A Bilingual Product?

Snobby Ahi

I decided to start documenting some of the bilingual products that catch my eye and make me laugh such as this one. Our family from Ecuador brought us some Ahi casero. We use it with ceviche and it is quite yummy.

It is brand names like this one, SNOB, that make me wonder if marketers are actually thinking about our global economy. In addition to the fact that English is a highly sought out language in business. So maybe the products have been around for decades, but still it’s something to think about.

It doesn’t just happen with English words. There’s MENSA, the high IQ society, which means the equivalent to dummy in Spanish! This one may even take the cake. Kind of makes you wonder about the founders IQ, no?

These are just a few of the bilingual words that catch my eye and make me laugh. They always have. I, now, finally have a venue to share it with!

Be on the look out for bilingual products and share them with me. I plan on posting more that catch my attention.

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Language Instinct-it’s not just the title of the book I have started reading.

It’s something that invigorates all of my senses…..I was having lunch with someone I did not know at all at Las Manitas. She was interviewing me for a Spanish teacher position. As we were discussing our experiences with language she mentioned a book called, Language Instinct by Steven Pinker. I was intrigued simply by her brief summary of the book. In a nutshell, the writer of the book claims that “language” is something we all possess, it’s an innate characteristic amongst humans. One of the over-arching questions I have as I am delving into the first chapter is, “What about those individuals who can’t speak?” I am thinking of someone I know who cannot utter a word. She makes sounds, but has never uttered a word. Maybe Pinker’s definition of “language” is a very broad one. Maybe it’s anyone that can make a sound, even if its a single phoneme coming out of their mouth. If that’s true then our instincts have varying strengths…

*I declined the teaching position. My other instinct was telling me to venture towards something else or maybe something less time consuming.

Originally published post on 9/6/2008

I'm bien pocha!

There is so much I could say about this…so much. In fact there are so many other words I could use instead of “pocha,” like bien gringa or bien whitewashed. It seems like the older I get and the more experiences that shape who I am now as a 34 year old woman the further I have gotten from where I came from. I grew up in Santa Ana, CA. Santana. An anomaly of a city in Orange County. It is a Mexican city. When I left I dressed like a mexicana from Santana (don’t get me wrong I wasn’t a chola), let’t just say that a year later my sisters and I did not go through a bottle of aqua net hair spray a week like we did when we were in Santa Ana.

My mom said that one of the many reasons we left was because we were starting to sound like the ghetto mexicanas. We ended up moving to a predominately White city. This is when I began to change. This is when the word “pocha” was used to describe who I was by fellow Mexicanos.

What exactly does “bien pocha” mean anyway? That I am missing or lacking some sort of cultural or ethnic identifier, like speaking Spanish as well as a native speaker?  I hate to sound upset about the phrase, but after so many years of trying to figure out exactly what it means to be pocha it can get a little frustrating. I guess my only understanding of it is that I am not Mexican enough and very American.

Well, fine, that’s exactly what I am. So, if this is one reason that makes me “bien pocha” then I am. I am guilty. I am bien pocha.

Inherited meanings as part of our culture.

I just finished reading a chapter from a very intense book for one of my classes. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will share that it talked about how culture can influence the way we think, feel, and see the world. Not just the world, things, people, it can even influence how we interpret the meaning of experiences.

Everyone has heard the saying that the same two people growing up in the same home can have VERY different experiences and stories to share. What I am trying to share is somewhere along those lines.

So, inherited meanings can…mask our view of the world….or they can reveal a particular view. For example, I grew up in a very Latino neighborhood in southern California and for the longest time I thought everyone celebrated Easter the way my family did. We crack eggs shells (cascarones) on each others heads. I’m not exactly sure about the history of that tradition. I think it is a Texas-Mexican tradition, but I may be wrong. Either way, what I am saying is I believe we inherit both good and bad ideals or interpretations of our the world. Whether we are referring to our opinions about Spanglish, what a woman is supposed to look like, or the roles we are supposed to become, it is all inherited and it is all evident in the way we speak, dress, and make our way in this world.

Spanglish…why the controversy?

This is definitely a topic I plan on exploring and writing more about. I recently posted on Facebook, me encanta el espanglish, and got some pretty negative comments about it. I guess I forget that not everybody is learning about language acquisition as much as someone who is pursuing a doctorate in the field. Now, I’m not trying to be aloof with that statement I’m just trying to figure out why some people can react with such…hmm…negative feelings towards a language. A language spoken by people who make up, as it is in my case, the state of Texas. It really is not much different than the way language works in other parts of the world. I bet if people knew that the same thing happens with more “sophisticated” languages they wouldn’t feel as much animosity towards Spanglish.

Here are two small facts about Spanglish:

People who are considered well-balanced bilinguals are the ones who can code-switch or use Spanglish more effectively than those who aren’t.

There is a method to using Spanglish. From my understanding many times people are conjugating verbs. In other words, you can’t just use a word here or there and say you are fluent in Spanglish.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I hope my bebita learns how to say truck in English, camion in Spanish or French (same spelling, different accent), and troca in Spanglish! Afterall isn’t it better to have four labels for one object than just one or two. I think so!

My mother is an alien….

No really she is! She’s an alien. She even speaks a little funny, you know with an accent. No she’s not from Mars, but she is an alien: a resident alien. When I was little we would look through her wallet, like any curious child, and would find her resident alien card. My sisters and I would laugh about how our mother was an “alien”.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why do we choose such awkward or harsh words like “alien” to label individuals like my mother who found a way to live  in this country in order to have a better life? I mean really, alien? Talk about the government sending a message, like you can live here, but remember you are not part of us. It’s like they are saying, you, my dear, are different and don’t really belong here. And they argue about residents not assimilating fast enough!

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating. Maybe the term is just outdated and at one point it wasn’t so harsh, so awkward. Ummm, nope, alien has always meant alien! There have been changes as to how we address people in this country. For instance, I am hearing more undocumented vs. illegal immigrant, but then again this also poses some sort of tension. It’s as if these people don’t exist. They don’t have documents. I’m sure they have birth certificates, cedulas, and marriage certificates. They may just not have the “right” ones.

Now, I know there are logical reasons for the labels. Every country needs to have some sort of keeping track of who their residents are etc etc. I just wish they would choose different terms or consider the terms they are using a little better. I’m not scarred by the fact that my mother is an alien, but as a child I didn’t fully understand why she was referred to as one. The message I got was that she didn’t fully belong, therefore I didn’t fully belong to this country.

Viva la nursing

There is not a single person that could have described the kind of intimacy that exists between a baby and a mother while nursing. It is the little nuances that occur that make nursing so special and such a unique experience. When I have tried to describe these little moments I have shared with my baby to others the sentiment, the context, the emotions are nearly impossible to translate.

Sure there are a long list of benefits to nursing, but in my opinion, the single most important one is the emotional attachment that forms between baby and mama. Think about it. Baby’s only way of communicating are through coo’s and crying, for the most part. The looks Sabrina gives me while nursing communicate so much more. Recently, she started reaching to touch my face while she nurses. So, I say, Viva la nursing! And to new mommies my one tip to you is to try and get as much support those first few weeks and months into nursing. I couldn’t have been successful without the help of my husband, a lactation consultant, my doula, a leche league leader, and some dear girlfriends. It may not be as difficult for some women as it was for me, but for those of you who may be struggling or worried about being able to nurse make sure you tap into all your communities resources before throwing in the formula. Viva la nursing!!