Sunday, September 7, 2008


Living on the border gives one a unique prospective. Most people who live on the border speak English or Spanish or both. Not only are different languages spoken but there are languages within the languages. For example, the now popular Spanglish (which my family uses so often entire conversations switch languages multiple times midsentence). The other languages are kinds of paralanguages which includes accents.

For many on the border, we've grown accustomed to hearing two very different accents and we know what words are trying to be  spoken, but others won't be able to understand and may even be offended. Por ejemplo, a person  with a strong Mexican accent (and I say Mexican because the Mexican version of Spanish is much different than Argentina's, Puerto Rico's, or Spain's) trying to say a couple of commonly used English words. What I always find amusing is the pronunciation of the word "beach" which for those who've never heard it ends up being said as "bich" and the word "focus" as "fukus" sometimes offending others.

This is a two way street. For those unfamiliar with Spanish and trying to use a common word, such as the word for kitchen "cocina" ends up being said as "kochina" and like the previous examples is a bad word. And even though there are more sounds in English, many Americans can't roll their R's nor pronounce LL as a Y so "tortilla" ends up as "torttillia."

And yes I am not making this up. I've heard these words mispronounced as well as numerous other words but I'm not really upset about this. In fact I'm glad that people are trying to speak two languages. For many Americans, they've never even tried to become bilingual. The rest of the world speaks two, at least three languages, but Americans only bother to speak English.

Living on the border gives you a unique prospective. Canadians speak English and French. Mexicans speak English and Spanish. Americans speak English. I hope this change soon. Learn a new language. You don't have to be perfect but learn enough about it so that you can understand it. Not only am I trying to better my Spanish but I'm also trying to learn Japanese which is a difficult language to teach yourself especially since it comes from a different branch of the language tree, but it is at least a start and I'm picking it up fairly quickly.

Learn Spanish. Learn French. Learn German. Learn Arabic. Learn Farsi. Learn Mandarin. Learn Malay. Learn Cantonese. Learn Japanese. Learn something so that Americans can start to change how the rest of the world views us.


Bill Chapman said...

You didn't write, "Learn Esperanto" but maybe you should have done so.

Take a look at

Oscar Veliz said...

I didn't put "Learn Esperanto" because it is not an official language that has been recognized by a country. I also didn't put "Learn Klingon" nor "Learn Elvish" for the same reason.

Cristina Ramírez said...

Oscar, I am sooo glad to see that you are keeping up with your blog. You are doing a better job than me. I am so busy with other writing that I haven't focused on my blog; I should. I was looking on your blog because I am using the response you got from Eliot Shapleigh! Thanks for keeping up the writing, Oscar! Mrs. R

Daniel said...

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