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21 May 2014

Ask a Mexican: Why Do Some Mexicans Who Can Speak English Insist on Speaking Spanish?

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Dear Mexican: I’m a half-mexicana, half-gabacha working as an appointment-scheduler in a medical office. I’m one of a handful of schedulers there who speak Spanish. I’ve noticed that about seven to eight times out of 10, when a Spanish-speaking patient calls and gets one of the schedulers who doesn’t speak español, and waits for myself or someone else to call them back, the patient actually speaks English well. Since mi mamá mexicana always told me to never assume someone can’t speak English, I call back speaking in English, and they respond in English.

I don’t mind speaking Spanish with any of my patients—in fact, I’m happy I can be of service—but it makes me wonder why would anyone would want to wait and waste precious time to get their health situated by not speaking English (given they have the capability). Some of my patients really need the help, and I am ready para hablar, but others patients have better English skills than several of the gabachas I know.

Appointment Desk, This Is Chiquita Curiosa. How Can I Help You?

Dear Pocha: Sometimes, Mexicans who can speak English pretend not to so they can gain an advantage over their gabacho adverseries—the classic “No espeak English” ruse when trying to get out of a situation or trying to make the gabachos think they’re a stupid Mexican. Other times, the English-knowing Mexican will still prefer Spanish, because they can be more exact. That seems to be the case here, given you’re a medical professional, and some Mexican health practices just don’t translate well into the King’s English—how do you tell your doctor, for instance, that your mom’s remedy for a broken clavicle is Vicks and 7-Up?

For those of us living in California, the FIFA World Cup is a big deal. Since we have such a huge Mexican population that has been here a while, is it a safe bet that they root for the U.S. team and the one from Mexico? I know that I tend to place my hopes on Mexico once the Americans get the boot in the first round.

Couldn’t we get a little more love going for our SoCal community by making our support in the World Cup more international?

Soccer Gabacho

Dear Gabacho: Historically, no Mexican in the U.S. would ever root for los Estados Unidos—not so much because it was considered traitorous, but mostly because the team was middling at best, and uber-gabacho. That has changed in the past generation, as the U.S. has not only become a mid-level power that consistently whips Mexico’s ass on the pitch, but also because the squad is now diverse.

At the same time, El Tri has underachieved behind the fresa foot of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández (“Little Pea,” so nicknamed for the size of his huevos), the most overrated Mexican since Maná. Most Mexican Americans will still root for Mexico over the U.S., but there’s at least a grudging respect for the norteamericano side—and at least brown members of Uncle Sam’s Army don’t get pelted with urine bags anymore … much.

Nevertheless, I don’t see a fruitful Mundial for either team, so Mexicans will probably do what they did during the last Cup: suddenly discover their Spanish roots, and go for the goal-getting gachupines.

¡ASK A MEXICAN! VIDEOS ARE BACK!

Gentle cabrones: After a years-long hiatus, I’ve relaunched the video version of this columna. Follow my weekly rants on Twitter by clicking the hashtag #askamexican, and ask away. Enjoy!

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!

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