Mi espanish, it’s not so good’o anymore

Alright I need a spell check here. I was walking to the post office last week to mail out some christmas cards and I took a snap shot of this tag. Now, when I first saw it I immediately questioned the idiot cholos spelling. I’m pretty sure lefty and Chile (?) weren’t much help in helping him spell. So what which one is it ? Huero or Guero ? But there’s an bigger underlying dilemma brought up in my conundrum to figure out the correct spelling, I’m forgetting my spanish !!!!!!!! English is my second language, but it turned into my primary language once I mastered it. I learned to read and write in spanish first, but when I “moved” to the states I was immersed with the english language thanks to television and friends at school. That and lack of practice make the problem worse. Being bilingual is an asset and even though I may forget words at times, I’m still proficient in spanish. I guess you can say I’m outta practice since I stopped living with my parents more than a year ago. Of course I poke fun of friends who are Mexican but can’t speak a lick of spanish because their parents for whatever reason didn’t teach it to them. The obvious solution is to practice it more, but english is what everyone speaks unless you’re a parental figure. It’s embarrassing to forget how to spell and pronounce certain words or not be able to translate them. Last time that happened to me was when I was trying to say vegeterania (vegetarian). 🙁

17 thoughts on “Mi espanish, it’s not so good’o anymore

  1. It says CHILD you dork, I’ve seen people use Huero for Guero, I’ve also seen Hueropuppet, which is a combination of Huero and puppet obviously.

  2. huero, ra.

    (Del dialect. gorar, empollar, incubar).

    1. adj. Vano, vacío y sin sustancia.

    salir ~ algo.

    1. loc. verb. coloq. frustrarse (‖ malograrse).

    huevo huero

    güero, ra.

    1. adj. Méx. Dicho de una persona: Que tiene los cabellos rubios. U. t. c. s.

    Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados

    para cualquier duda consulta


  4. “their parents for whatever reason didnt teach them”

    Oooh that is a big one. And a huge component of the chicano-paisano divide. For decades latino kids who acted more mexican and spoke spanish were clowned by chicano kids as being too “paisa”, as was the style of the time for minorities in America. The whole assimilate or die thing was big in America until white guilt killed that kind of outright ethnocentrism in the 60s and 70s. Brown kids were beaten or punished by parents and public institutions for speaking spanish, and basically the only way a mexicano could move up the american social ladder back then (some say it never ended) was to totally whitewash themselves in a anglophilic society.

    So a whole generation of mexicanos (generally those of the pre 1970s migrations, specifically 1910s revolutionary and 1950s peso devaluation migrations from mexico) who came here and existed in American society were brutally forced into this anglocentric mindframe until the chicano pride movement of the 60/70s, which is a chingo on the brain. So their kids werent taught spanish, red and blond hair dye was pushed hard, and everyone had spanish-french-jewish lineage (according to their abuela) in the barrio.

    Fast forward to the 70s and 80s when newer influxes of mexicanos/latinos began changing the people living in the barrio, this attitude amongst the chicano population began to shift. The newer paisanos held did not have the decades of racism or such codified anglocentric social norms of prior generations, and held onto their culture and mother tongue much more (as well as had less embarassment about it, this is also a crucial aspect that explains the why there is a higher level of social betterment among paisano mexicanos than chicanos). As the new waves of paisanos filled our barrios, the tradition of chicano-choloish kids clowning the more paisa kids flipped full force, the once “shamed chuntero” kids now clowning the “pocho whitebread” chicanos who had lost much of their motherculture generations before they had a choice.

    I grew up during that script flip, and enjoyed seeing genuine non-gangster (or overcompensatory mexica headscalper) Latino pride come into fashion, as well as the shunning of americanized Latinos. Of course a lot of people then turn and say how this shunning of americanization (or better yet, the loss of Latino culture) hinders Latinos from assimilation into mainstream society (which is true from a purely pragmatic non social standpoint), but that issue should also be viewed as a response to centuries of anti-nonwhite behavior by America’s ruling demographic, which it is as well.

    I personally have been plagued by being a member of the initial Americanized chicanos. I hated seeing chicano kids clown paisano kids for maintaining their mothertongue, and loved to se the roles reverse despite it having negative effects on how I was personally treated. My abuela raised me on spanish as a baby (at my chicana power mom’s request, as my abuela taught very little spanish to her and my tias) and then stopped totally once I hit school years. So my spanish sucks, and I have tried strenuously to regain it for the sake of my 2 small children. I speak spanish, but far from fluently, and grew up being clowned as the only project kid who was not bilingual, as well as clowned for speaking english in a chicano accent as well in college.

    To be mexican in LA and speak little spanish is horrific, embarrassing and extremely ostracising. Like i said, i can get by, and have tried for years to get back on the bilingual wagon, with slow hard earned progress. My older son is now 6 and I have actually stepped up my game so he gets it , which he does. I grew up seeing my mom (who is also light) go thru embarassment for this, and have dealt with “porque no hablas” from resentful mothers of ex-girfriends for days.

    The F’d upo thing about it is that so many chicanos have gone oreo, or harassed paisanos for their spanish so much that the backlash is cemented in paisano-chicano interaction. So many paisanos assume that us that dont speak spanish so well made the choice to refuse spanish or are stuck up mexican haters, while on the flip side many chicanos who fall for the whole assimilation thing now (often incorrectly) conote that paisano resentment at non spanish speakers equates a reluctance to exist in mainstream society. Not 3 weeks ago I had to calm my mom down after she and my tia were all worked up (fueled by embarassment) for being laughed at about their spanish while buying masa at a tamaleria. It is a very damaging experience to go through life being laughed at for something you have little control of, and oftentimes is what signifies “how mexican” you are. In fact, it gets so debilitating that many stuck in this reality who actually understand Spanish get too nervous to speak it in public for fear of being laughed at(I used to be this way before I gathered my cajones and plowed though). This fear creates situations where non-latinos are actually more comfortable than latinos who know spanish but grow up with this mental complex.

    My dos centavos on that.

  5. “To be mexican in LA and speak little spanish is horrific, embarrassing and extremely ostracising.”

    To be honest, this is why despite coming from three generations of English speakers, I’m able to communicate in Spanish. I really didn’t have much of a choice if I were to continue to live in urban Los Angeles. Like you, my great-grandmother taught me Spanish when I was a baby which has helped me immensely throughout my life. My English speaking Chicana mom was a huge supporter of bilingual education and put me in ESL classes so I’d learn in both languages but only until the second grade. After that, I forgot all my Spanish and fast.
    As a punk rock teenager no one could figure out my ethnicity so no one expected me to speak Spanish nor did I really need to. Once my hair went back to it’s original dark color (and my ethnicity became fairly obvious), I took a job in Boyle Heights and the sad reality of my limited Spanish hit me in the face. I got teased, made fun of and mocked for my pocha Spanish. Luckily, the language came back pretty quick – or at least the ability to communicate and I’ve always had a somewhat good accent. My verb conjugation and feminine/masculine pronoun use are pretty horrendous though! 🙂
    Anyways, when paisas start giving me that look like how come I talk all messed up, I tell them I come from three generations of English speakers and aren’t they proud of me for being able to speak what I do? Most of the time they are impressed and then I warn them to teach their kids Spanish or they’ll sound like me! Anyways, it’s tough to get shit on by both sides but in the end, it makes you a stronger person and not so thin-skinned and that’s probably the most valuable skill to have in this world.

  6. I was born in East LA and raised in Mexico. When I came back, I was immediately put in ESL classes. I couldn’t understand how Mexican kids who were darker than I was were calling me a wetback. These kids were probably first and second generation at the most in the Montebello School District. It was tough to be mocked by your own, but fortunately I had great teachers with the Chicano attitude that helped me forge ahead and not be embarrased of speaking English. Despite my limited English proficiency, I was able to rank 26 out of 590 students at Schurr High School, get a decent SAT score (better than many monolingual students) and be accepted into a four year university.

    I still remember those assholes that used to mock me — I remember giving one of them a quarter at the 7/11 (10 years after graduation) and I told him, “I am the wetback you used to mock in high school.” His face got red, and did not look at me in the eyes anymore. I still see him standing at the 7/11 asking for money, but he doesn’t ask me for any. Que bonita es la venganza!

    I remember many people refused to speak Spanish despite their f’g nopalote en la frente. I began to see a turn around in these attitudes in the early 90’s. I remember an incident at JCPenney’s while shopping with my dad. My dad told me in Spanish to ask a woman working there for the fitting rooms — before I had a chance to ask the woman, in English of course, she replied — I don’t speak Spanish. She was very Mexican looking. My dad told me — dile a esta hija de la chingada, que no le estoy preguntando si habla español, si no que donde estan los vestidores. The woman got very red (don’t know if she was embarrased and/or angry) and right away she pointed to the fitting rooms without me asking in English.

    Anyway, I look back and see why my mom is afraid of speaking English, yet she understands it. It was tougher for her in ’60s and ’70s when she was young.

  7. Urbanista, I understand it must’ve been tough to be an ESL student in Montebello, of all crappy places to go to school (I went to Schurr for one semester). At the same time, did it really matter that the people who gave you shit were darker or more Mexican looking than you? Would it have been okay if they were fair-skinned? I’m confused by this.

  8. chimatli… I was trying to say that they had the nopal on their forehead… it was pretty ironic.

  9. I can empathize with how frustrating it is for a brown person to harass you for speaking spanish, especially in communities like Monkeybello where the whole “Im an american of mexican descent” self hatred thing is popular. Not like its any better for a white or black person to act jerkish towards spanish speakers, but getting it from your own raza kind of takes you by suprise as the bulk of latinos dont trip like that.

    Funny how many Schurr kids there are here, I went there after getting kicked out of LAUSD. For some reason that is where I really began to pick up spanish again, through interaction with the ESL kids. Like chimatli, I made the choice to reintroduce Spanish into my (and my younger family members’) vocabulary. When I was younger I had asked my abuela to reteach me spanish, but that ended up just being her making fun of me for speaking wrong to the point where it further damaged my speaking from embarassment. I remember the turning point for me was getting in an accident on the 710 with a truck driver from mexico who wanted to fight and didnt speak a lick of english or have any papeles.

    I totally agree with you chimatli about how to handle anyone clowning my bad spanish, and I implore my familia to do the same rather than get pissed or disengage out of embarassment. Most people appreciate it and if they still act estupido they are probably miserable no matter who they interact with.

  10. I ended up at Schurr after I decided to move back in with my mom because I was getting into too much trouble with my city friends. I admit, I lasted less than a semester at that horrible school and ended up at a flunky continuation in Alhambra where my only work for the whole time was to read the biography of Nixon’s hatchet man, Charles Colson. I also enjoyed chatting with the cholas. 🙂

    Anyways, I think Urbanista brings up some interesting and touchy issues. I often think to myself, if I did not look so Mexican i.e. morena, it would’ve been easy for me to fall into the assimilation camp like my half-white cousins who I think don’t even consider themselves Latino. But unlike my fair skinned cousins, I didn’t have a choice because I look Mexican, I was treated like a Mexican and inevitably, it started defining my identity. That’s why my brother and I are the only ones of our generation to speak Spanish. Plus, my parents were Chicano activists and pro-Raza power. I was even sometimes chided for being a coconut because of my love for British pop bands. Anyways, Urbanista is right to criticize his ignorant classmates for calling Mexicanos and paisas, wetbacks. On the other hand, paisas and other Latino immigrants should be aware that living in the US for many generations doesn’t make your skin any whiter and nopal or no nopal, some of us are not a self-hating Mexicans for not speaking Spanish.

  11. @urbanista – you and your dad need to chill out and enjoy your anger less.

    That dude at the 7-11 hated himself for being brown when he was mocking you, and look what it got him. It’s sad more than anything else.

    I’m Asian, and had some animosity toward Asian immigrants back in the early 80s when they were coming over in large numbers. (They were messing with my assimilation!) I got over it.

    Also, I know there’s a lot to hate about Montebello, or even other suburbs of LA, but I think, for Latinos, whether they’re into assimilation, or think they’re indigenous rebels, it’s a pretty good situation. In other parts of the country, it seems like there are fewer options for brown people, economically and socially.

    If you don’t want to be a sell-out middle class Chicano, you can be a non-sell-out middle class Chicano.

  12. Alienation…

    no anger here at all — but not sure if people enjoy anger. I was just pointing out how screwed up it “used” to be in the 80’s. What exactly was it that recent Asians screwed in regards to your assimilation? Some of my best friends in high school were Asians — we started in the ESL classes communicating with our dictionaries(English/Spanish, Mandarin/English, etc. etc…).

  13. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, there were conflicts between the Asian Americans and the new immigrants and refugees, mostly because the AAs were racist against the newcomers. There were all these different elements to it: inter-ethnic, inter-class, inter-generation. I think that AAs were resentful, because, after around 80 years in America, AAs felt they were breaking into the mainstream and assimilating, and believed that the newcomers were going to undermine this trend. So they got a little racist against immigrant Asians. We’re not talking “hate crimes” but, there’s just some anti-immigrant sentiment.

    I know this sounds like AAs are being dicks, and they basically were, but, older AAs come from a really different context that newcomers. I’ll explain later.

  14. Hey or the youngster from my neighborhood who spelled Bago instead of VAGO!! One of the veteranos set him straight.

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