6 Notes

  1. In some previous papers on this phenomenon (cf. Hill 1993b), and in several lectures, I referred to this system as ``Junk Spanish''. I found that this term was very frequently misunderstood as a reference to so-called ``Border Spanish'', the code-switching, somewhat Anglicized forms of Spanish that can be heard from some speakers in the U.S. Southwest. I am indebted to James Fernandez for a very convincing explanation of why this misunderstanding was so pervasive, and for the suggestion of ``Mock Spanish''. Fernandez points out that for English speakers the association between ``junk'' -- ruin and decline -- and the Mediterranean areas of Europe (and their colonial offshoots) is hundreds of years old. The use of ``junk'' plays into this system. ``Mock'' both avoids this metaphorical system and makes clearer the central function and social location of the register of English that I address here.
  2. The term ``Anglo'' is widely used in the Southwest for ``white people''. It is an all-encompassing term that includes Italians, Greeks, Irish, etc. Its existence (it is a short, monomorphemic element) is eloquent testimony to the social reality of this group, the members of which often like to argue that they are too diverse internally for such a single label. I will use this term for this social unit in the remainder of the paper.
  3. In Arizona, ``Official English'' legislation, pushed by the national organization U.S. English, took the form of an amendment to the state constitution that included particularly restrictive language, that in the business of ``the state and all its dependencies'' (which include the University of Arizona), officers of the state (which includes me), ``shall act in English and in no other language.'' The only exclusions were for the criminal courts, the teaching of foreign languages, and health and safety emergencies. Both the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have held this amendment to be in violation of the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution Woolard (1989) is an excellent treatment of the ideological foundations of a comparable statute passed in California.
  4. Mock Spanish continues to be a source of campus humor; I hear it frequently at the University of Arizona, and it is documented in the everyday usage of Anglo students at the University of California at San Diego in a project recently concluded by Kathryn Woolard and her students. I thank Kathryn Woolard for sharing with me these materials.
  5. Note, however, that KOHT's billboard does have an intertextual relationship with Mock Spanish, and is almost certainly based on a ``More X, less Y'' frame that comes from English. An unquestionably Mock Spanish usage of the same structure was passed on to me by my colleague Mara Rodrguez. A flyer advertising a Mexican-food restaurant features the slogan ``Mas Dinner, Less Dinero'' (``More dinner, less money''). This slogan echoes the Mock Spanish strategy of adding Spanish morphology to an English word to form the ``Dinner/Diner-o'' pun, and also makes a characteristic association of Spanish with cheapness. The rest of the text of the ad is entirely in English, and the two branches of the restaurant are located in Anglo neighborhoods on the north side of Tucson.
  6. This name borrows from ``Nouvelle Southwest Cuisine,'' a kind of food that includes items like lobster fajitas with mango salsa, and chiles rellenos stuffed with pistachio nuts, goat cheese, and sun- dried tomatoes.
  7. I take this expression from the work of Muriel Schulz (1975) on the historical semantic trajectory of words with female referents, such as ``queen'' (which has acquired the sense of ``transvestite'', in contrast to ``king'') and ``housewife'' (which has the contracted offshoot ``hussy'', in contrast to ``husband'', which has no such derogated relative).
  8. The correct use of the accent mark on the o here is nothing short of astonishing. Written Mock Spanish is usually orthographically absurd.
  9. ``John Connor'' has been ``raised up rough'' by an aunt and uncle, since his mother is locked in a lunatic asylum because she keeps talking about the first terminator. He is represented at the beginning of the film as running wild in the streets. I have no idea whether working-class white kids in Los Angeles today actually talk like John Connor. I do know, however, that the exposure of the screenwriters of such a film to the talk of kids is far more likely to be at the catered birthday party in Bel Air or in the parking lot of the Montessori School than on the actual mean streets of L.A.
  10. There is no doubt that ``Adios'' is also used, at least in the Southwest, when speakers wish merely to be ``warm'' rather than funny and insulting. In this case, the stereotype of ``Mexicans'' (or perhaps the stereotype is of some gruff old Anglo rancher from the 1860's who has helped you fight off the Apaches) is that of generosity and hospitality. This usage does not, of course, cancel out the force of the very common use of ``Adios'' to convey insult.
  11. I owe the ``Hasta la baby, vista'' example to Jodi Goldman, who found it in The Koala a satirical newspaper published by UCSD students, in the March 8, 1993 Edition. The phrase appears in an ad parodying the advertising for ``Terminator 2: Judgment Day''. I thank Kathryn Woolard for sending me the work of Ms. Goldman and other students.
  12. In the film, the miraculous properties of the terminator metal permit the pieces of the evil terminator's shattered body to flow together and reconstitute him; he comes after Schwarzenegger and his charges again! This detail is neglected by politicians who use ``Hasta la vista, baby'' as an expression for final dismissal.
  13. In Texas, the Democratic candidate Robert Krueger used ``Hasta la vista, baby'' in a television commercial where he dressed in a peculiar black suit apparently intended to allude to ``Zorro'', a sort of Robin-Hood-like Mexican bandit from 1950's television. This commercial was considered especially absurd, and did nothing to dispel Krueger's reputation as a panty-waist college professor who was hopelessly distant from the Schwarzenegger image.
  14. Illustrating the presence of such usages among elites, and attesting again to their geographical spread, I was informed by a colleague who teaches in a university in the northeastern U.S.(in a city with many Spanish speakers) that the graduate admissions committee in her department referred to the stack of rejected applications as the ``Nada pile''. They've now changed the name. At the other end of the social continuum, ``nada'' provides one of the few examples of Mock Spanish that I have heard from a person whom I would evaluate as perhaps working class. I was trying to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy in a nearby grocery store that is located in a neighborhood that is distinctly down-scale. When the pharmacist's assistant (who might have been 18 or 20) couldn't find my prescription, she returned to her register and told me ``Nada''.
  15. Spanish is, of course, by no means the only European language that is used as a source of ``softened'' scatological and obscene expressions for English speakers; one thinks immediately of Yiddish dreck and French merde. But Mock Spanish is a far more productive source. Another example along the same lines is a Mock Spanish version of the widely-distributed slogan ``Shit Happens'', seen on bumper stickers and other paraphernalia. Bumper stickers are available that read ``Caca Pasa''.
  16. It would be useful to have clear evidence that most English speakers believe that this word is Spanish (as opposed to, say, Old French). I believe that this is the case. I remember studying Mexico and learning that its ``haciendas'' had ``peons'' in the fifth or sixth grade!
  17. I am indebted to Jay Sanders for drawing my attention to the use of Mock Spanish by Southern California teens; he contributed to a course in Discourse Analysis tapes of young female friends of his (who were from Thousand Oaks, not Encino), chatting casually on the phone using unusually high frequencies of Mock Spanish. Pauly Shore has made several films since ``Encino Man'' that probably deserve attention as well.
  18. Note that `E' is used rather than ``epsilon'', since ``epsilon'' cannot reliably be represented on most WWW browsers. Currently, most browsers support HTML 2, which does not represent ``epsilon'', among many other characters. HTML 3 will resolve most font representation problems, but this specification is still incomplete and so not yet widely available in commercial WWW browsers. For this reason, note the following conventions. C hacheck is represented by `C', delta by `dh', epsilon by `E', schwa by `@', and theta by `th'. Dental t is represented by `T'.
  19. The pronunciation ``No problem@'' also exists; I have the impression that ``No problemo'' is more common.
  20. This personal ad may have been attempting a parody of a ``Sicilian Mafia'' usage. But the ``Arriba!'' definitively suggests that Mock Spanish has swamped ``Mock Sicilian''. I owe this example to Kathryn Woolard.
  21. I owe this suggestion about the relationship between Ivins and Briggs to Don Brenneis.
  22. There is another, more vulgar version of this greeting that I have not seen. I owe the description of it to Barbara Babcock, who received a card where the front showed Hawaiian hula dancers, face forward, and the word ``Muchas''. Opening the card revealed a rear view of the dancers, buttocks clearly visible through their grass skirts, and the word ``Grassy-ass''.
  23. The treatment of the Spanish syllable mu- as English ``moo'', complete with cow, is attested in several examples collected by Woolard's students at the University of California at San Diego. Jodi Goldman found a (presumably ``Christian'') bookmark featuring a picture of a cow reading a book entitled ``God is MOOOY BUENO''. Gina Gemello reported a billboard for Clover Dairy (in the San Francisco Bay area), that featured a cow saying ``Moooy Bueno.''
  24. I thank Gerardo López Cruz for providing me with a copy of his video of this skit. (N.B.: This clip is too long for inclusion or reproduction. --Editor.)
  25. I develop this point at greater length in Hill (1993a).
  26. Susan Philips found a card that actually shows a ``Mexican'' sleeping under an enormous sombrero, under the question, ``¿Cómo esta frijol?'' (Punctuation as in the original). Inside, the card reads: ``[English translation] How ya bean?'' (Of course it is printed on ``100% recycled paper''.)
  27. A particularly egregious example occurred on the 1994 Christmas gift wrap chosen by a local store, ``Table Talk.'' Many items in the store were prewrapped in a dark green paper that featured howling coyotes and striped snakes wearing bandanas, and a repeated figure of a ``Mexican'' asleep under his sombrero, leaning against a saguaro cactus. Diego Navarette reported to me that he actually complained at one Table Talk branch, and received an apology from the manager and a promise that the offending wrap would be withdrawn. However, when I visited the store just before Christmas, the offending wrap was still available for custom wrapping, and the prewrapped gifts were still stacked in the aisles as part of the Christmas decor.
  28. Dominique Louisor-White and Dolores Valencia Tanno (1994), of the Communications department at California State University at San Bernardino, found that Mexican-American television newscasters in the Los Angeles area were increasingly likely to choose fully Spanish pronunciations of names when reading the news, starting with the pronunciation of their own names, since they regarded the usual Anglicized pronunciations as disrespectful. (They often encountered opposition to their pronunciation from Anglo station managers.)
  29. Members of historical Spanish-speaking populations do not, in my experience, use Mock Spanish much when speaking English. I have heard such a usage only once, when a highly-placed Mexican American man, prominent and powerful in the Tucson community, said ``Adios'' as an Anglo subordinate left a meeting. Certainly such people code-switch frequently from English to Spanish when talking to other Spanish speakers. This codeswitching, however, is a completely different phenomenon from Mock Spanish.
  30. I do make a claim to a sense of humor. But I have stopped using Mock Spanish, and I urge others to avoid it as well. As soon as Spanish is used within English in such a way that de lujo is as common as de luxe, that camarones en mojo de ajo are as prestigious a dish as truite a la munière, and that señorita, like mademoiselle, can allude to good breeding as much as to erotic possibility, I'll go back to being as funny as possible with Spanish loan materials. Given the present context, I think that Mock Spanish is harmful -- it is humor at the expense of people who don't need any more problems.