Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guanajuato, Mexico -- The Most Hated Gringo in the World # 37 is one that will surely get me hated to the grave and maybe win the Academy Award for The Most Despised Gringo in the Universe.


I have heard in face to face Gringolandian confrontations (their face confronting mine) the bold proclamation that, "All our friends are Mexicans."

Now, on the surface that seem pretty innocuous, would you not agree? And, what would be wrong, if anything, with the statement assuming the statement is true?

In both of my books on learning Spanish and the countless articles I have written on second language acquisition, I've quoted often the shameful fact that more than 94% of Americans are absolutely incapable of speaking in another language other than English. Though one might be tempted to think that the thought of moving to Mexico might just be a highly motivating factor to learn Spanish, it is not. Sadly it is not. Tragically it is not.

Though I've never been able to find any real data on this, the anecdotal data plainly shows the vast majority of Americans who move to Mexico apparently will not learn Spanish.

That continues to shock me but they move here to Mexico with no linguistic skills and do not pursue Spanish study when they arrive. Some do, most do not.

At least two other writers I know, one personally, have reported the same linguistic aversions.

The "why" of it is varied but not the subject of this blog.

The point is if "all our friends are Mexicans" then how are the Gringos who make this statement communicating with the Mexicans with whom they claim, in some cases, a "best friendship status?"

The simple answer is they are friends with bilingual Mexicans.

I have asked the question, on more than one book, article, and blog, "How can they, the Gringolandian, know with any certainty that what they are being told about culture is right, wrong, a narrow myopic viewpoint, or simply true?

If you can't talk to the lady who sells you a taco, to the man who is a University Professor, then how can you piece together the puzzle to know whether or not you ever will have an accurate picture about anything in the Mexican culture?

A University Professor friend of mine, Mario, told us years ago to beware of the sincerity of bilingual Mexicans who want to be friends. He said some Mexicans who can speak English regard having a horde of American friends, especially those with money, as trophies. They can brag to their monolingual Mexican fellows that they have the Gringo so-and-so as friends. It is nothing more than a status thing.

There will exist in those situations a definite, red-flag bias in not telling you the truth about culture so as not to "turn you off." They will sense you want to hear nothing but light and love and perfection and will tell you so.

Sorry. That is how it is.



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