Mexican Spanish

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mexican Spanish
Español mexicano
Native to Mexico
Native speakers
105 million  (2011)[1]
Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Mexican Spanish (Spanish: español mexicano) is the Spanish language as spoken in the North American country of Mexico and in various parts of the United States and Canada where there are communities of Mexican origin.

Spanish was brought to Mexico as of 16th century. As in all other Spanish-speaking countries, (including Spain), different variations of the language and accents exist in Mexico, because of both historical and sociological reasons. However, the best known varieties outside of Mexico are both the educated and vernacular (working class) variations of Central Mexico, as Mexico City, the capital of the country, hosts most of the mass communication media with international projection. Because of this reason, most of the dubbing identified abroad with the label "Mexican Spanish" or "Latin American Spanish" actually corresponds to the Central Mexican variation.

As a result of Mexico City's central role in the colonial administration of New Spain, the population of the city included relatively large numbers of speakers from Spain. Mexico City (Tenochtitlan) had also been the capital of the Aztec Empire whereas the whole Central Mexico hosted also many other Nahuatl speaking cultures, thus many speakers of Nahuatl continued to live there and in the surrounding regions, outnumbering the Spanish-speakers. Consequently, Mexico City tended historically to exercise a standardizing effect over the entire central region of the country, more or less, evolving into a distinctive dialect of Spanish which incorporated a significant number of hispanicized Nahuatl words and cultural markers. Nowadays, the manner of speaking of the people of the State of Mexico influences the way people speak in the central region of the country.

Variation[edit]

The territory of contemporary Mexico is not coextensive with what might be termed Mexican Spanish. First, the Spanish of the Yucatán Peninsula is distinct from all other forms, both in intonation and in the incorporation of Mayan words. The Spanish spoken in the areas that border Guatemala resembles the variation of Central American Spanish spoken in that country, where the voseo is used. Secondly, many Mexicans stayed in Texas after its independence from Mexico and continuously speak Spanish which remained a language widely used in Texas, where it is identified as Tex-Mex. Thirdly, after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo many Mexicans remained in the territory ceded to the U.S. and continued to speak Spanish within their communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. A Spanish linguistic variety known as Ladino (one of several uses of the term Ladino) is still spoken in parts of New Mexico (for example, in the town of La Mesilla in the south, as well as in northern areas of the state). And also, the waves of 19th and 20th century migration from Mexico to the United States (mostly to the formerly Mexican-controlled Southwest) have very much contributed to making Mexican Spanish the most widely spoken variety of Spanish in the United States as Mexican Spanish is considered to be the standard dialect of Spanish in the U.S., except on the East Coast, where Caribbean Spanish is most common (e.g. Miami, where there is an important Cuban community, and the Northeastern U.S., where there are many significant Puerto Rican and Dominican communities). The Spanish spoken in the Gulf coastal areas of Veracruz and Tabasco and in the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, is also distinctive—at least at the level of vernacular speech—as the Spanish spoken there exhibits more Caribbean phonetic traits than that spoken in the rest of Mexico; Cuban Americans and Puerto Rican Americans who live with Mexican Americans with origins from those areas hear a Spanish dialect from Mexican Americans similar to theirs.

Regarding the evolution of the Spanish spoken in Mexico, the Swedish linguist Bertil Malmberg points out that in Central Mexican Spanish, unlike most variations of the other Spanish-speaking countries, the vowels lose strength, while consonants are fully pronounced. Malmberg explains this by the influence of the consonant-complex Nahuatl language through bilingual speakers and place names. However, there are currently more than 50 native Mexican languages spoken throughout the country and they all contribute to the diversity of accents found all over Mexico.[2] For instance, the tonal or "sing song" quality of some forms of Mexican Spanish derives from some of the indigenous languages such as Nahuatl and Zapotec which, like Chinese, include tonality in their standard form; the tonal sound and over lengthening of the vowels in some forms of Mexican Spanish was particularly strong in mestizos who spoke one of the native Mexican languages as their first language and Spanish as second language and is still spoken by mestizos (born to one native Mexican parent and one white Mexican parent or one foreign white parent in modern time) who speak one of the native Mexican languages as their first language and Spanish as second language. However, the strength of the consonants in Mexican Spanish is not necessarily from native Mexican influence, especially since other Romance languages, most notably Italian (which is replete with double consonants), also have strengthened consonants, and Mexican Spanish dates from the 16th century.

Phonetics[edit]

Consonants[edit]

The consonants of Mexican Spanish
  Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal Labio-
velar
Plosive p [p]
b, v [b]
t [t]
d [d]
  c, qu [k]
g, gu [ɡ]
cu []
gu, gü, hu [ɡʷ]
Approximant b, v [β] d [ð]   i, hi, y [j] g, gu [ɣ] u, hu [w]
gu, gü, hu [ɣʷ]
Affricate   tl []
tz [ts]
ch []
y []
y [ɟʝ] ~ [ʝ]  
Fricative f [f] c, s, z [s]
s, z [z]
x [ʃ] j, g, x [x] j, g, s, x [h] ju [] ~ []
Nasal m, n [m] n, m [n]   ñ, n [ɲ] n [ŋ]
Lateral l [l]
Trill   r, rr [r]    
Tap   r [ɾ]    
10 varieties of Mexican Spanish.
  Norteño del (Nor-)este (eastern northern variant)
  Norteño del (Nor-)oeste(western northern variant)
  Bajacaliforniano (peninsular northern variant)
  Occidental (western variant)
  Bajío (lowlands variant)
  Altiplano (central variant)
  Sureño Central (central southern variant)
  Costeño (coastal variant)
  Chiapaneco (south-eastern variant, similar to Central American Spanish)
  Penisular Oriental (eastern penisular variant)

Affricates[edit]

Due to influence from local languages like Nahuatl, Mexican Spanish also has a voiceless alveolar affricate [t͡s] and a lateral alveolar affricate [t͡ɬ] represented by the respective digraphs /tz/ and /tl/,[3] like in the word tlapalería [t͡ɬapaleˈɾia] ('hardware store') and coatzacoalquense [koat͡sakoalˈkense] ('from Coatzacoalcos').

Fricatives[edit]

In addition to the usual fricatives of other American Spanish dialects ([f], [s], [x]), Mexican Spanish also has [ʃ][3] mostly in words from indigenous languages. The [ʃ], represented orthographically as x, is commonly found in words of Nahuatl or Mayan languages such as Xola [ˈʃola]. The spelling x also represents two other pronunciations: [x] (also mostly in place names) as in México [ˈmexiko], and (in words of Greco-Latin origin) [ks] as in anexar [anekˈsar]. In many Nahuatl words in which x originally represented [ʃ], the pronunciation has changed to [x] (e.g. Jalapa/Xalapa [xaˈlapa]). In words of Zapotec origin x is pronounced as [ʒ].[4]

Regarding the pronunciation of the phoneme /x/, the articulation in most of Mexico is velar [x], as in caja [ˈkaxa] ('box'). On some dialects of the coastal regions, the normal articulation is glottal [h], as in most Caribbean and Pacific coast dialects, Canarian, and most dialects in Andalusia and Extremadura in Spain, thus México, Jalapa, and caja are respectively pronounced [ˈmehiko], [haˈlapa], and [ˈkaha]. Note however that in other Spanish variations in the coastal regions the articulation is also [x]. In dialects of Oaxaca, much of Chiapas and the southern Highland and interior regions, the pronunciation of /x/ is uvular [χ]. This is identical to the Mayan pronunciation of the dorsal fricative which, contrary to the Spanish romanization x, in Mayan languages is commonly represented by j. In Spanish spelling before the conquest of Mexico, the letter x represented /ʃ/. Historical shifts have moved this articulation to the back of the mouth.

In Northern Western Mexican Spanish, Peninsular Oriental, Oaxaqueño and in eastern variants influenced by Mayan languages [tʃ], represented by ch, tends to be deaffricated to [ʃ], a phonetic feature typical of both Mayan languages and southwestern Andalusian Spanish dialects.

In most variants of Mexican Spanish the letter y is pronounced as either a palatal fricative [ʝ] or approximant [j] in most cases; after a pause, it's instead an affricate [ɟʝ ~ dʒ]. The letters ll follow the same pronunciation as y in many dialects (see yeísmo).

In the Occidental, Bajío, Central Southern and Peninsular Oriental variants of Mexican Spanish z is pronounced as [z] rather than like in some southern Spanish variations where the letters s and z are both pronounced as [s] (seseo), or as [s] and [θ] (distinción, in most of Spain), respectively.[citation needed] In the Defeño variant z can be pronounced interchangeably between [z] and [s] although a very sibilant [s] seems to be preferred.[citation needed] The pronunciation of z as [z] in the Defeño dialect seems to be a recent innovation originating in the 1980s influenced from American media.[citation needed] In words of Zapotec origin it is pronounced as /z/ as it is in the Zapotec language and many speakers in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas differentiate the letter z from s. A common feature of most Mexican Spanish dialects is seseo wherein s, z, and c (before e & i) are all pronounced as /s/; this feature is very common to other Latin American Spanish dialects and also common to Canarian and many Andalusian Spanish dialects. The pronunciation of Mexican Spanish z as [z] in the Spanish of Oaxaca is derived from both seseo and Zapotec pronunciation.[citation needed]

Also present in most of the interior of Mexico is the preservation (absence of debuccalization) of syllable-final /s/; this, combined with frequent unstressed vowel reduction, gives the sibilant /s/ a special prominence. This situation contrasts with that in the coastal areas, on both the Pacific and the Gulf Coastal sides, where the weakening or debuccalization of syllable-final /s/ is a sociolinguistic marker, reflecting the tension between the Mexico City norm and the historical tendency towards consonantal weakening characteristic of coastal areas in Spanish America, dialects of both the Pacific and the Gulf Coast have received more influences from Andalusian and Canarian Spanish dialects.

Vowels[edit]

As most Spanish dialects and varieties, Mexican Spanish has 5 vowels: two high vowels (/i, u/), two mid vowels (/e, o/) and one open vowel (/a/).

A striking feature of Mexican Spanish, particularly in that of central Mexico, is the high rate of unstressed vowel reduction and elision, as in /ˈtɾasts/ (trastos, 'cooking utensils'). This process is most frequent when a vowel is in contact with the sound /s/, so that /s/+ vowel + /s/ is the construction when the vowel is most frequently affected.[5][6][7] It can be the case that the words pesos, pesas, and peces are pronounced the same /ˈpesəs/. The vowels are slightly less frequently reduced or eliminated in the constructions /t, p, k, d/ + vowel + /s/, so that the words pastas, pastes, and pastos may also be pronounced the same /ˈpasts/.

Morphology[edit]

Mexican Spanish is a tuteante form of the language (i.e. using and its traditional verb forms for the second person familiar), voseo being confined to some parts of the state of Chiapas, where the local Spanish rather belongs to the Central American region. In Chiapas, the verb forms corresponding to vos are the same as in Guatemala—in other words, the present indicative and subjunctive have oxytone forms with monophthongal endings (cantás/-és, comés/-ás, subís/-ás); the imperative has no final /d/; there is sociolinguistic variation in the future between forms in -ás and forms in -és/-ís (the latter being the less prestigious of the alternants); and the remaining vos forms are identical to those that go with in standard Spanish.

Vosotros (Second Person Plural, in English "you all"). Vosotros is only in current usage in Spain and can also be found in certain archaic texts in Mexico. It sounds odd to Mexican ears. However, since it is used in many Spanish-language bibles throughout the country, most Mexicans are familiar with the form and understand it. Nevertheless, like in the rest of Spanish America, it has fallen out of everyday use.

An interesting feature of Mexican Spanish, found mainly in Central Mexico, is the frequent use of diminutive suffixes with many nouns, adverbs and adjectives, even where no semantic diminution of size or intensity is implied. Most frequent is the -ito/ita suffix, which replaces the final vowel on words that have one. Words ending with -n use the suffix -cito/cita. Use of the diminutive does not necessarily denote small size, but rather often implies an affectionate attitude; thus one may speak of "una casita grande" ('a nice, big house').

When the diminutive suffix is applied to an adjective, often a near-equivalent idea can be expressed in English by "nice and [adjective]". So, for example, a mattress (un colchón) described as "blandito" might be "nice and soft", while calling it "blando" might be heard to mean "too soft".

Frequent use of the diminutive is found across all socioeconomic classes, but its "excessive" use is commonly associated with lower-class speech.[citation needed]

Some prefixes and suffixes[edit]

In some regions of Mexico, the diminutive suffix -ito is also used to form affectives to express politeness or submission (cafecito, meaning little coffee; cabecita, meaning little head; chavito, meaning little young boy), and is attached to names (Marquitos, meaning little Marcos; Juanito, meaning little Juan) denoting affection. In the northern parts of the country, the suffix -ito is often replaced on informal situations by '-illo" (cafecillo, cabecilla, morrillo, Juanillo).

In Spanish, the "-ísimo" is used as a suffix to emphasize the original meaning of adjectives; it is equivalent to the Italian/Latin/Portuguese "issimo/íssimo". For instance, the word "grande", which means literally big, can be emphasized (grandísimo) therefore meaning "very big".

The suffix "-ote" is typically used in Mexico as the augmentative ending; thus making nouns bigger, larger, more powerful, etc. For example, the word "camión" by itself literally means "bus"; adding the suffix, camionzote means "big or long bus". It can be repeated just as in the case of the suffix "-ito" and "-ísimo", therefore camionzotototote means "very very very big bus".

The suffix "-uco" or "-ucho" and its feminine counterparts "-uca" and "-ucha" respectively, are used as a disparaging form of a noun; for example, the word casa, meaning "house", can be modified with that suffix (casucha) to change the word's meaning to make it more disparaging, and sometimes offensive; so the word "casucha" is often a shanty, hut or hovel. With the word madera (wood), for example, it is often used with the other suffix (-uca: maderuca) and it means rotten, ugly wood.

Other suffixes include, but are not limited to: "-azo" as in "carrazo", which refers to a very impressive car (carro) such as a Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz; "-ón", for example "narizón", meaning "big-nosed" (nariz = "nose"), or "patona", a female with large legs (patas). Some others include "-udo", as in "narizudo", also meaning "big-nosed"; the prefix "a-" or "en-" used with the suffix "-ado", as in "acamado" or "engentado", meaning, respectively, someone who is tired of being in bed, and someone who is tired of being in crowds and with many people.

It is also common to add a ch- to form diminutives, e.g. Isabel → Chabela, José María → Chema, Cerveza (beer) → Chela, Concepción → Conchita, Sin Dientes (without teeth) → Chimuela. This is common in, but not exclusive to, Mexican Spanish.

Syntax[edit]

Some syntactic patterns that sound very "non-standard" to the Peninsular ear are routine in Mexican Spanish. First and foremost is the more or less conventionalized ellipsis of the negative particle "no" in clauses containing the preposition "hasta" (until):

  • Hasta que me tomé la pastilla se me quitó el dolor. ('Until I took the pill, the pain did not go away.')

In this case, the sentence has the sense indicated by the English translation only if the main verb is implicitly understood as being negated.

A departure from Peninsular usage (which Mexico shares with many other areas of Spanish America) involves using interrogative "qué" in conjunction with the quantifier "tan(to)"[8] ("Qué tan" "Qué tanto" = How):

  • ¿Qué tan graves son los daños? (How serious are the damages?) (Whereas in Spain the question would be posed as "¿Hay muchos daños?") (Is there a lot of damage?)
  • ¿Qué tan buen cocinero eres? (How good a cook are you?) (Whereas in Spain the question would be posed as "¿Eres buen cocinero?") (Are you a good cook?)

Note that phenomena relating to bilingualism are likely to be encountered among bilinguals whose primary language is not Spanish or in isolated rural regions where the syntactic influence of indigenous languages has been important historically. One of the most discussed of these phenomena is the redundant use of verbal clitics, particularly "lo", a tendency that is encountered in language contact areas throughout Latin America.

Another departure from Peninsular Spanish is that of the preference for the use of the preposition "por" instead of "durante", that in Mexico, as well as in some other regions of the Spanish Americas, is commonly used to convey a time duration or span. For example, whereas in Peninsular Spanish using "por" in a sentence such as Fue el presidente de la compañía por veinte años (He was the president of the company for twenty years) would sound odd and even incorrect—the preferred sentence being in that case Fue el presidente de la compañía durante veinte años—that use of "por" is widespread in Mexican Spanish, to the point that "durante" is quite uncommonly used.

A new way of talking, influenced by the way people from the State of Mexico ask questions, is present more or less recently in central Mexico. Whereas in Mexico city people used to ask: ¿Quieres...? (Would you like...?) nowadays, due to such (negative) influence, tends to ask: ¿No quieres...? (Wouldn't you like...?) This phenomenon exists in other European languages. For instance, French has a curious way of dealing with negative questions. If you ask a question in the affirmative, «Est-ce que vous voudriez manger quelques choses" You would answer "Oui". However, should you pose the question in the negative; «Ne voudriez-vous pas manger quelques choses», the affirmative answer would be «si,si». Answering «oui» denotes "Yes, I wouldn't want anything to eat".

Media influence in Mexico and abroad[edit]

Historically, Mexico has produced many comical shows, soap operas, drama series, family shows and game shows that have been very successful not only on the national level both also in all Latin America, Brazil, Spain, other countries of Europe and Asia[9] (e.g. El Chavo del Ocho). A common and recurrent feature of these shows is the exaggeration of the characters and presenters way of speech or accents in order to remark personality traits and stereotypes, which often resulted in the caricaturing of the Mexican culture and people [10](e.g. El Chapulín Colorado and María Mercedes, see also the Spanish entry for El Chavo del Ocho). The Mexican audience understands and enjoys such caricaturing, characterizations, exaggerations and distortions of the language and ways of speech, since the national audience understands that it is completely intentional and for comical, dramatical, ironical or even satirical purposes and it has become part of the pop culture of the country. However, it seems that this sometimes confuses the Spanish speaking audiences from other countries, which are not aware of that trait of Mexican media and modern culture, and erroneously identify the distorted ways of speech and accents in the media as authentic, everyday, 'normal' Mexican Spanish. The intentional distortion of the ways of speech is also patent in the Mexican dubbing of some animated foreign films for kids like Pixar's, DreamWorks' or Disney's, and also in comical films like those of the Canadian actor Jim Carrey.[11]

The media of the USA has also influenced modern Mexican Spanish and culture,[12] in particular that of the easy-going middle and high classes in the largest cities of Central Mexico. Nowadays, such influence has extended also to the rest of the country. Since the late 60's and 70's, but more strongly during the 80's, the so-called Valley English displayed in the USA media influenced the way of speech and intonation of a large part of the middle and high classes, which adopted it as a symbol of social status, cosmopolitan background and modernity. Because of this, many of the slang and neologisms used in Valley English and other varieties of USA English associated with yuppie speech were incorporated as slang into this "high status" Spanish either as direct translations or as adaptations, e.g. "as if" became "como que", "whatever" became "como sea (wey)", "it sucks" became "No mames", "sucker" became "mamón", "faggoty" or "faggot" became "puto" (which was and is still considered a strong word in educated speech and so little used)[13] or "puñal", "bar out" became "madrear/putear", "grotesque/gross" became "grueso" and "it is gross" became "está grueso", "Surely!" became "seguro", "fresh" became "fresco", "groovy" became "gruvy", "Valley girl/preppy" became "fresa", etc. Although as in English, many of these words exist in standard Mexican Spanish, their over repetition and the particular intonation of the emerging variety was foreign to standard Spanish, but correlates well with that of Valspeak/yuppie English, e.g. "como sea" would be often pronounced as "como seaaaaa", "seguro" as "seguuuuuroooo" and "grueso" as "gruééésó".[citation needed] The resulting variation of Mexican Spanish has become known as "Fresa" and is used by a large part of the middle and high classes. Note however that a large part of the Mexican middle and high classes (e.g. politicians, businessmen, medics, lawyers, professors, etc.) and most of the working class continues speaking standard or educated regional variations of Mexican Spanish and regards "Fresa" as over pretentious and actually uneducated, even when by adaptation it has become a natural way of speaking for their counterparts. Note that a similar situation occurred in Spain, where words like "flipar","boom","jet-set" and "jersey" were introduced in a similar way.[14]

Perhaps the most clear indicator of the synthetic origin of the Fresa speech/accent is the fact that the fathers and/or grandfathers of fresa speakers have either neutral/standard or educated regional accents (i.e. not fresa) while at the same time their families have been longstanding members of the high and middle classes. This phenomena also occurs in the USA among speakers of Valspeak or yuppie English, e.g. the well known case of young Hollywood celebrities that come from business, artist or musician families.[15]

Besides the Valspeak and yuppie English, the influence of the USA rock and pop music and culture has also influenced the Fresa Spanish. The English spoken by celebrities like Paris Hilton would roughly correspond to its equivalent in the USA. Notice however, that in more formal environments and circumstances, rather than high class or cosmopolitan the Fresa variation is considered superficial or artificial and even second-rate by academics and the culturally conservative middle and high classes, which prefer the standard neutral variation or the educated regional variations of Mexican Spanish. Because of this, in the past many everyday speakers of "Fresa" tended to disregard completely this way of speech when giving conferences or public speeches (for instance inside universities or enterprises) and adopted standard or educated regional variations. This occurred because the "fresa" variation its associated slang was not accepted as a high status statement by the intellectual elite which often regards it as synthetic and artificial, and thus "fake" and over-pretentious;[16][17] and furthermore, sometimes discriminatory and racist.[18] In fact, the disregard of the educated elite and population in general was so high, that during the 70's, the Mexican comedian Luis de Alba, caricatured and mocked both the accent, ways of speech and attitudes of the Fresa subculture through is character "El Pirruris". De Alba had attended college in a private university where the Fresa subculture is known to exist and he based the 'Pirruris' character on the mannerisms he observed on some of his classmates.[19]

On the other hand and as the counterpart of the Fresa speech, the Mexican media and in particular the comical shows and soap operas also often caricature the ways of speaking of the working class, through what is known as the "Naco" speak, e.g. in very popular shows like "La hora pico" (prime time) and La Familia P. Luche. Originally, this way of speaking roughly corresponded to the lowest urban social classes of the Capital[20] but it has also extended to the rest of the country. Note however that the "Naco" speech is also an extreme stereotype/subculture and it does not corresponds to the actual way of speaking of the Mexican working class, which also uses standard proper Mexican Spanish. On the other hand, the "Naco" dialect incorporates a lot of slang, double sense words or rude words and phrases, many of them proper Spanish words; however, the meaning associated to them greatly diverges from the original one, such that even Mexicans not used to it would have to infer their meaning from the context, particular intonation or similarity with other words or phrases. Phrases now considered very Mexican like "¿Qué pedo?" (literally "What's farting?") which is used often in informal speech in place of the formal "¿Qué pasó?" or "¿Qué pasa?" ("What happens?" or "What's going on?") were previously considered really uneducated if not non-sensical. Here the mere fact that "pasó" (happens) begins with a strong "p" (e.g. when used for expressing surprise, shock or even to express happiness for seeing someone) has been enough to replace it by the more shocking "pedo" ("fart") in "Naco" speech.[citation needed] In Mexico city, speakers of this variation would also use expressions like "¿Qué pasión?" ("What passion?") or "¿Qué paraguas?" ("What umbrellas?", insinuating both an erection and a greeting, "Naco" speech uses a lot of erotic and non-erotic double sense, which was also a feature of the nahuatl culture in Central Mexico[21]) just because of the sound similarity of these words with "pasó/pasa" (i.e. they begin with "pas" and "pa" respectively). This probably occurs because of early influence of the Nahuatl language in the Central Spanish variation.[22] Nahuatl is an agglutinative language, so composed word are often similar in their root word or lexeme, differing only in the added words or suffixes. This feature led to the creation of hybrid words[23] with nahuatl roots and Spanish suffixes and also influenced the Spanish slang in Central Mexico. Nowadays the "Naco" and "Fresa" speeches have influenced each other. "Fresas" adopted very early "Naco" (low class) expressions to pose as rude and rebel, whereas "Nacos" were also influenced by the USA and Mexican media and the "Fresa" subculture. So, nowadays phrases like "¿Qué pedo?" and "Wey/Güey" are used in very informal speech by speakers of all ages and social statuses, even when they are still considered uneducated and vulgar.

Finally, the Chicano culture of the USA has also influenced Mexican Spanish, particularly close to the USA border, such that English words like "truck" have become "troca", "parking" have become "parquear", and "winnie" is sometimes used instead of "salchicha" (sausage), see Spanglish.

Lexicon[edit]

Mexican Spanish retains a number of words that are considered archaic in Spain.

Also, there are a number of words widely used in Mexico which have Nahuatl, Mayan or other native origins, in particular names for flora, fauna and toponyms. Some of these words are used in most, or all, Spanish-speaking countries, like chocolate and aguacate (avocado), and some are only used in Mexico. An example of the latter would be guajolote, for "turkey" (although pavo is also used, as in other Spanish-speaking countries) which comes from the Nahuatl huaxōlōtl /waˈʃoːloːt͡ɬ/. Other examples would be papalote for "kite", from the Nahuatl pāpālōtl /paːˈpaːloːt͡ɬ/ for "butterfly"; and jitomate for "tomato" from the Nahuatl xītomatl /ʃiːˈtomat͡ɬ/ (see List of Spanish words of Nahuatl origin for a more complete list). Other usages that are unique to colloquial Mexican Spanish include:

  • Pelo chino means curly hair.[24] The word chino derives from the Spanish word cochino, meaning "pig".[24] The phrase referenced the casta known as chino which was an Indian and African mix whose hair was curly.[24] This term is sometimes mistakenly thought to derive from the word chino meaning "Chinese".[24]
  • Chichis means teats from the Nahuatl word for breasts chīchīhualli /tʃiːtʃiːwɑlːi/.[citation needed]
  • "¿Mande?" (Roughly translated, a formal "(you) order?"; from mandar, 'to order'). Also used as an equivalent to "(beg your) pardon?"
  • The use of "¿Qué?" ("What?") on its own is sometimes considered impolite, unless it is accompanied by a verb: "¿Qué dijiste?" ("What did you say?") or "¿Qué pasó?" ("What happened?"). Otherwise "¿Cómo?" ("How?") is preferred.
  • Ahorita: Literally "right now", used to say something should happen within an indeterminate, largely context-dependent period of time.
  • Chingadera [or chingado (-a) followed by what is being referred to]: any unspecified object (considered vulgar), damned as in damned thing.
  • Chingar: to screw/ruin/rob/steal/fuck/work/eat (vulgar), approaches the versatility of the English term "fuck" in Spanish. Considered vulgar.
  • "¿Cómo (la) ves?": Literally "How do you see (it)?", means "What do you think (about something)?"
  • "Escuincle" From the Nahuatl word for dog itzcuīntli /it͡skʷiːnt͡ɬi/, used to refer to a bratty child. Can be used in plural "escuincles"
  • Bronca: Literally "aggressive woman or girl or wild female animal", commonly used amongst young people; means "fight" or "problem". Also can mean just "wild, untame", as for example unpasteurised milk is referred to "leche bronca", i.e. wild milk.
  • Güey' "Wey" or "Buey":(Literally, "ox") Dude, guy, but also used as "dumb", "asinine", "moron", etc. NOT to be confused with "Huey" from the Aztec title "Huey Tlatoani", in which "Huey" is a term of reverence.
  • Güero: light-haired and/or light-skinned person. Not considered offensive.
  • Naco A boorish and/or uneducated person (pejorative).
  • Órale: similar to the English expression "Wow". It is sometimes used instead of "Okay."
  • "¿Qué onda?" (literally, "What's the vibe"?) is commonly used as a "What's up?"
  • Padre: Literally "father," used as an adjective to denote something being "cool", attractive, good, fun, etc.: "Esta música está muy padre." ("This music is really cool."). Chido is also used for the same intention.
  • Pinche: Literally means "kitchen assistant". Used as "fucking" (vulgar): "Quita tu pinche cara de aquí." ("Take your fucking face away from here.")
  • Pedo: Literally "fart", used for the same or when there is a problem as in "Hay un pedo", or it can mean "situation" as in the greeting "¿Qué pedo güey?" ("What's the situation dude?"). It can also mean "drunk", and "estar pedo" means "to be drunk". A "peda" is a party or reunion with significant amounts of alcohol and also refers to the state of drunkenness.
  • Popote: (drinking) straw from the Nahuatl word for a plant for making brooms or a straw popōtl /popoːt͡ɬ/[citation needed]
  • En un momento.Literally means "in a moment". Usually used as "hold on a second" or "one moment".
  • Hablar: Used instead of llamar in the sense of "call" (on the telephone).
  • Macho: A Nahuatl word machō /ˈmat͡ʃo/ whose translation in Spanish is "Ejemplar", meaning "someone to be imitated" in English.[25]
  • Chavo(a)/Chamaco(a)/Chilpayate all refer to a child, teen, or youngster. Huerco(a), Morro(a), Plebe are used in the northern parts of the country. All these terms but Chilpayate are usually found in their diminutives: Chavito(a), Chamaquito(a), Huerquito(a), Morrito(a).
  • Este: Literally, "this." Used in Mexican Spanish as a filler word, similar to "um" or "you know" in American English.

Note however that most of the words above are considered informal (e.g. Chavo(a),Padre, Güero) or rude (Pinche, Naco, Chingadera, etc.) and are mostly used as slang among friends or in informal settings.

Similar dialects[edit]

The small amount of Spanish spoken in the Philippines has traditionally been influenced by Mexican Spanish (as the territory was initially administered for the Spanish crown by Mexico City and later controlled by Acapulco). Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole language in the Philippines, is based on Mexican Spanish.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mexican Spanish at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ "Descubren en México cinco nuevas lenguas indígenas" (Newspaper) (in Spanish). El Universal. May 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  3. ^ a b Lope Blanch (2004:29)
  4. ^ Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1), doi:10.1017/s0025100308003344 
  5. ^ Canfield (1981:61)
  6. ^ Cotton & Sharp (1988:154–155)
  7. ^ Lope Blanch (1972:53)
  8. ^ Kany, p. 330
  9. ^ http://www.juridicas.unam.mx/publica/librev/rev/polis/cont/20001/pr/pr11.pdf
  10. ^ Orozco-Goméz Guillermo (2006), Nueva Época, La telenovela en mexico: ¿de una expresión cultural a un simple producto para la mercadotecnia?, Núm. 6, pp. 11-35 pdf in Spanish
  11. ^ http://fel.uqroo.mx/adminfile/files/memorias/Articulos_Mem_FONAEL_IV/Aviles_Cota_Marylia.pdf
  12. ^ Manzo-Robledo Francisco, Cultura Mexicana Light, http://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/especulo/numero31/cmlight.html
  13. ^ http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=335524
  14. ^ http://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/18872/1/Felix_Rodriguez_Anglicisms.pdf
  15. ^ Goggans Janice W. & Di Franco Aaron, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures: The Pacific Region, Greenwood 2004, pp. 281
  16. ^ Monsivaís Carlos, Léperos y catrines, nacos y yupis,Mitos Mexicanos, Taurus, 2001, pp. 214,216-218, http://www.mty.itesm.mx/dhcs/deptos/ri/ri-802/lecturas/nvas.lecs/sal/leperos.html
  17. ^ Rajunov Daniel (2012), La bacanal de los fresas, Puro Cuento, Volumen 2, Vassar College, Departamento de Estudios Hispánicos,http://hispanicstudies.vassar.edu/docs/puro-cuento-2011-2012.pdf
  18. ^ Baéz-Jorge Félix, Los indios, los nacos, los otros (apuntes sobre el prejuicio racial y la discriminación en México), http://cdigital.uv.mx/bitstream/123456789/539/1/2002121P21.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.observamedios.com/Site/VistaMonTV.aspx?id=1655&fec=20120605&tipo=TV
  20. ^ Delfín Guillaumin, La cultura mexicana a través de los ojos de Monsiváis: el naco, ¿El actual salvaje urbano de la Ciudad de México?, http://www.ciberjob.org/etnohistoria/naco.htm
  21. ^ Johansson Patrick (2006). Dialogía, Metáforas y Albures en Cantos Eróticos Nahuas del Siglo XVI. Revista de Literaturas Populares, Año VI, Num. I, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UNAM
  22. ^ http://cvc.cervantes.es/literatura/aih/pdf/02/aih_02_1_014.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.historicas.unam.mx/publicaciones/revistas/nahuatl/pdf/ecn07/097.pdf
  24. ^ a b c d Hernández Cuevas, M.P. The Mexican Colonial Term "Chino" Is a Referent of Afrodescendant. The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.5, no.5, June 2012.
  25. ^ Rémi, Siméon. Diccionario de la lengua náhuatl o mexicana. Siglo XXI Editores, S.A. de C.V., 2004. pp. 246, 258 ISBN 968-23-0573-X. Macho: distinguished, illustrious, ... as a passive voice of Mati: uel macho ó nouian macho, evident, well known, notorious; qualli ipam macho, he is good, well behaved.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Jergas de habla hispana—A Spanish dictionary specializing in dialectal and colloquial variants of Spanish, featuring all Spanish-language countries including Mexico.
  • Latin American Spanish—This is the universal and somewhat arbitrary name that is given to idiomatic and native expressions and to the specific vocabulary of the Spanish language in Latin America.
  • Güey Spanish—Mexican slang dictionary and flashcards.
  • Mexican Spanish slang—Several hundred words of Mexican slang and English meanings.