Mock Spanish

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Mock Spanish is used to describe a variety of Spanish-inspired phrases common in some otherwise monolingual Anglo-American circles. The term "Mock Spanish" has been popularized by anthropologist-linguist Jane H. Hill of the University of Arizona, most recognizably in relation to the catchphrase, "Hasta la vista, baby", from the film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.[1] Hill argues that the incorporation of pseudo-Spanish terms like "hasty banana" (for hasta mañana), "buenos nachos" (for buenas noches), "el cheapo", "no problemo", "hasta la bye-bye", and other humorous uses constitute a type of covert racism.[2]

Hill found that Mock Spanish was especially prevalent "among middle- and upper-income, college-educated whites".[2] She discovered that many of those who make use of Mock Spanish in their casual speech consider it harmless or even flattering, while native Spanish speakers are likely to find it insulting. She presented an argument that Mock Spanish depends on the covert indexing of negative stereotypes of Spanish speakers and that it can only be accurately interpreted if negative stereotypes about Hispanophones can be accessed.[2]

In José, can you see?, Ana Celia Zentella describes mock Spanish as one half of a double-standard in which Hispanics are expected to conform to the linguistic norms of English while Anglo-Americans are free to ignore all grammatical aspects of the Spanish language they are borrowing from. According to Zentella, "Latin(a)s are visibly constrained by rigid norms of linguistic purity, but white linguistic disorder goes unchallenged; in fact, white linguistic disorder is essential to a congenial persona, and passes as multicultural 'with-it-ness.'"[3]

Hill contrasts mock Spanish with two other registers of "Anglo Spanish" that she refers to as "Nouvelle Spanish" (largely used to provide a Spanish flavor for marketing purposes, e.g. "the land of mañana" used to describe the Southwest or "Hair Casa" as the name of a beauty salon) and "Cowboy Spanish" (loanwords for region-specific objects and concepts, such as coyote, mesa, and tamale).[2]


  1. ^ Hill, Jane H. (1993). "Hasta La Vista, Baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest". Critique of Anthropology, 13(2):145-176.
  2. ^ a b c d Hill, Jane H. (1995-10-09). "Mock Spanish: A Site For The Indexical Reproduction Of Racism In American English". Language & Culture, Symposium 2. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  3. ^ Zentella, Ana Celia (2003). "'José can you see': Latin@ responses to racist discourse" (PDF). In Doris Sommer. Bilingual Games. New York: Palgrave Press. ISBN 978-1-4039-6012-2. 

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