CVIndependent

Fri06232017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

15 Mar 2017

Ask a Mexican: Why Can't Americans Pronounce Spanish-Named Cities Correctly?

Written by 

Dear Mexican: In my hometown of Playa Larga (Long Beach, Calif.), natives refer to a major avenida in our villa, Junipero Avenue (named for Father Junipero Serra, accused native genocider, a candidate for sainthood—but I digress), as Juan-a-pear-o. There is no “Juan” in Junipero, but that’s how everyone in this town pronounces it. People who reside on that street, real estate agents, residents, business owners—I even heard a former mayor pronounce it that way.

Why do white Americans (and even some Guatemalan Americans) bend over backward to pronounce Junipero as Juan-a-pear-o, to sound as though they know how to pronounce it as a Spanish speaker would, yet it is the most garbled malapropism of the word (which should be pronounced “hoo-NEE-pear-o”)?

Hombre Blanco de Playa Larga

Dear Gabacho From Long Beach: I’ve gotta say that in my lifetime of living in Southern California, I’ve never heard nadie pronounce Junipero as you say people mispronounce it—the malapropism I hear is “June-IH-pear-oh,” a fascinating medley of the proper accent placement on the third-to-last syllable in Junípero’s Spanish incarnation, and a rigid following of English grammatical structure.

This is the wonderful world of the grammatical gabacho colonizing of the American Southwest, where Yankees decided to keep many of the original Spanish names of territories, cities and geographical landmarks, and then Anglicize them—”Tex-as” instead of Teh-haas,” “Loss An-ju-less” instead of “Loce AHNG-heh-les,” or “A-ri-zone-ah” instead of “Hell-on-Earth.” (OK, in fairness to the Sonoran dog, I’m just talking about the parts of the state where Arpayaso and Ducey roam.)

Custodians of Cervantes, of course, cringe at gabachos’ mongrelization of Spanish-language place names, and that’s a beautiful thing: Remember that one of the few cardinal rules of this columna is that language is fluid, and anyone who tries to box it in or get their chonis in a bunch about it is as deluded as Rick Santorum.

Dear Mexican: Why is every overweight, tattooed, goateed, bead-wearing, late-model-Tahoe-driving, non-educated enchilada in Texas a University of Texas fan? Why not A&M or Tech? Or Baylor? (That’s obvious.)

And one more thing: Please stop becoming belligerently drunk and taking it personally when the team on your Walmart 3XL T-shirt loses. You have no personal ties to the team, so quit throwing up gang signs and using profanity in an atmosphere that’s meant to be fun. The drunk 19-year-old college kid means no harm when he screams, “Boomer!” so grow up and get a life.

Frustrated Educated Okie

Dear Gabacho: “Enchilada” as a slur against Mexicans? The 1950s called—they want their ethnic insult back.

As for the fan question: It’s the same reason no one outside of Oklahoma gives a shit about the Sooners. Subway alumni like winners in football, and the Longhorns are the epitome of a winning program in the Lone Star State, while the Aggies, Red Raiders, UTEP Miners, Texas Christian University, the University of Houston and Texas’ many other college football programs haven’t exhibited such gridiron dominance over the years. The Sooners haven’t dominated college football since the days of Barry Switzer—you really expect non-Okies to give a damn about a third-rate university that played in something called the Russell Athletic Bowl?

By the way, your Baylor dig is lost on me. Because Baylor is a private university? USC (the Trojans’ USC, not the Gamecocks one) is private and has more than a few wab alumni. Typical Sooner solipsism—but what else can we expect from a university that named itself after invading illegals? Go Cowboys (both the Dallas and Oklahoma State variants)!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.