Language ills

¡Ask A Mexican!

Dear Mexican: Why don’t Mexicans ever drop their Spanish? Even third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans still speak the language to some degree or another. I speak Japanese, but I’m losing it quickly, and when my mother passes on, so will my language. The typical Asian-American kid may attend Chinese, Korean or Japanese school on Saturdays, but guess what? They do it because their parents force them to attend, and I bet they speak English during recess.

—Feeling a Bit Nippy

Dear Chinita: What’s it matter to you if Mexicans hold on to some Spanish? Those third- and fourth-generation wabs also speak English—a 2006 study by professors Douglas S. Massey of Princeton and Rubén G. Rumbaut and Frank D. Bean of the University of California, Irvine, found an overwhelming majority of Mexican-Americans prefer the language of Shakespeare by the second generation. If anything, the fact that many Mexicans continue to maintain some level of Spanish fluency long after their parents hopped the fence is just proof they’ve assimilated into America. See, Spanish has kept a longer presence in the United States than English. The country’s oldest continually inhabited city (anything by American Indians doesn’t count, of course) is St. Augustine, Fla., founded by Spaniards in 1565, 21 years before the English crown even bothered to explore the Americas. The oldest American capital is Santa Fe, founded in 1609, over 150 years before the United States’ birth. And we all know that Spanish is the native language of the southwest United States, has a presence in the names of various new suburban developments and continuously has been spoken all these centuries—and you have a problem with Mexicans continuing to speak en español, Nippy? Chula chinita, Spanish is the American language—English is just an intruder that Mexicans learn with ease.

What is it with Mexican gardeners? They lop off trees into coat racks, and shear off irises and lilies. It’s all slash and mow and blow. The Mexican gardener where I rent says he doesn’t know plant names, just takes care of them. Sort of like one-night stands. Why can’t Mexicans act classy like the old Japanese gardeners? It makes my green thumb ache.

—Doña Verde

Dear Miss Green: What you describe as lopping, shearing, mowing and slashing is called “pruning” in horticultural parlance; blow, meanwhile, describes your pendejadas. Seriously: What do you mean Mexican gardeners aren’t regal like their Japanese counterparts of yore? Both drive beat-up trucks. Both were unduly represented in gardening due to proud gardening traditions in their mother cultures and lack of other job opportunities as a result of discrimination. Mexican and Japanese gardeners made good livings and tended to quickly graduate from beautifying one home to running their own businesses. And while the phenomenon of Japanese and Mexican gardeners could very well be limited to Southern California, the rest of America—especially you urban New York cabrones—take note: as Mexicans invade your neighborhoods and steal the service-sector jobs gabachos occupied for generations, take solace in knowing that Mexicans will do the work with the same care but cheaper, harder and without a water break.

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