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30 Jul 2014

Ask a Mexican: Why Can't Gabachos Pronounce Spanish Words Properly?

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Dear Mexican: Why is it that so many gringos/gabachos constantly slaughter Spanish words? Spanish is easy to pronounce (and spell) compared to English. The vowels are always pronounced the same way. In English, vowels vary a lot—which is difficult for new learners. All of the other letters of the alphabet are pronounced the same way, except for a few, such as “J” (guttural-sounding) and “X” (like the aspired “J”). But “H” is always silent; “Y” is like “I”; and double “ll” is pronounced “yah.” And don’t get me started about how common expressions like “vamonos” became “mosey.” Or how “calabozo” became “calaboose,” and “vaquero” became “buckaroo,” etc.

Llamame Frustrado

Dear Call Me Frustrated: Don’t be too hard on gabachos. You simplify Spanish a bit too much—don’t forget that “X” sounds like “ch” when placed at the beginning of words; that we love to elide (you try getting a gaba to translate “No, pos ’ta pa’lla”), and that trilling your “Rs” in rr ain’t exactly easy. In fairness, Americans do know Mexican Spanish, from borracho to chichis to chica caliente to guac, torts, chimis. And the recently concluded World Cup taught American sports fans the wonder that is “Eh … PU-TO!” (“Hey … FAG-GOT!” chanted at the opposing portero after every goal kick).

All other non-Mexicans in los Estados Unidos will slowly learn Spanish as their numbers decline and Mexicans increase—after all, they don’t want to be economically retarded like non-English-speaking Mexicans, do they? Besides, the only gabachos who should already know Spanish are those who live in the American Southwest—they’ve only had about 165 years to learn it, so give them a break.

As far as I can tell, Mexican food is all the same thing, based on one simple concept. Take a tortilla; lay it out; pile it up with meat, lettuce, tomato and maybe some cilantro; and it’s called a tostada. Fold it in half, and now it’s a taco. Roll it up, and it’s a burrito. Throw the burrito in the deep fryer, and now you have a chimichanga. The only REAL choice anybody has with Mexican food, besides the amount of hot sauce, is the tortilla (corn or flour) and the kind of meat.

Is that all that Mexico could come up with for the country’s cooking heritage?

Culinary Boredom in Salinas

Dear Gabacha: Wow, what did tortillas ever do to you? Not only are you pendeja, but you’re retrependeja. For chrissakes, you don’t even know the Mexican-food writings of your hometown hero, John Steinbeck. When he was going around the country while writing Travels With Charley, the Homer from Salinas wrote to his wife that he had prepared a bowl of pozole (he called it “pissoli”), which doesn’t involve tortillas (though it can) or meat (though it can). He also loved Bohemia beer, writing, “Ah, Bohemia beer and the Pyramid of the Sun; entire civilizations have created less.”

Finally, tamales make many appearances in his works, from Tortilla Flat to The Pastures of Heaven and more. Besides, what’s gabacho food if not bread, a choice of meat, and gallons of corn syrup?

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!

1 comment

  • Comment Link Antonio Tuesday, 11 November 2014 08:02 posted by Antonio

    Yeah well, the "take a tortilla and fill it with meat" philosophy of Mexican food is analog to the the "take bread and fill it with meat" philosophy of American food. That's why it's become popular here.
    BUT, those are not the only dishes in Mexico, just the ones popular in here. Mexican food also has lots and lots of different soups, stews and other dishes that don't involve tortillas per se (but we eat them with tortillas because we love them) and are not well known here.
    For example, there's barbacoa, birria and cochinita pibil, all which are meat cooked in different spices. They don't involve corn at all, but when you eat them you'll probably have some tortillas and roll some tacos with them. Or mole. Or romeritos. Or pescado zarandeado. Or aguachile. Or alambres. Or...
    And that's not even counting the variety of traditional desserts and pastries.

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