Acceptable Blackface; The Selective Spanish Accent

As I sit here watching Jose Diaz-Balart, I’m struck yet again by a leftist dynamic that’s as painfully annoying as it is divisively pandering.

Jose’s English is impeccable, but when he says words that have a Latino origin…he uses a Spanish accent.

And he’s not alone.

A quick Twitter search reveals at least a few instances over the years of me calling leftists out for their selective Spanish accents. To the best of my ability in 140 characters, I’d propose a relevant challenge…

sa1

sa2

sa3

sa4

And while it’s not exactly the same as the selective Spanish accent, I was thrilled when Jonah Goldberg correctly cited Obama’s rendition of the word Pakistan as “POCK-ee STAN.” (Though I’d argue “BOCK-ee STAN” might be more accurate.)

Still, the outliers from other languages aside — it’s the selective Spanish accent that’s far more prevalent.

Is this a critical dynamic that merits a ton of focus? Not yet, but as 63.2 million people in America are non-English speaking (at home if not entirely) — it’s an ingredient in what’s becoming a critical dynamic that merits a ton of focus.

And as noted in a previous piece called “Appreciation For English Is RACIST!“…

There is no greater conduit to shared values, expressions of organic diversity and ultimately unity than that which exists amid linguistic communication.

In the United States, that conduit exists foremost as the English language.

Valuing a single language with which a nation’s people can communicate, understand each other and ultimately unite if not evolve based on shared understanding…is not racist. In the US that language is English. If others want it to be Spanish, cool. But let’s agree on one and then not apologize for lamenting the inability or unwillingness of some to adhere to it.

So whether it’s just annoying because they’re pandering, or potentially destructive as an ingredient in the larger conversation about having a single language in the US — I don’t know.

But any time I hear Obama say “Llllllatino” instead of just “Latino,” or Jose Diaz-Balart say “Telaymmmuundo” instead of just “Telemundo”…it grates on me.

If English is your second language, of course there’s often going to be an accent. But when people who have perfect English selectively employ a Spanish accent, well — I’ll let a fantastic, hilarious and very appropriate old Saturday Night Live skit finish that thought and this piece for me…

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2 comments

  1. The point is whether it is done in JD-B’s case because he sees them as being Spanish words, and as a native Spanish speaker, pronounces them accordingly– or it’s done as some sort of attempt to appease Latinos, all the worse when done by Anglos. Now, if you have been around Spanish speakers as I have, and want to use a Spanish word, and you DO have a better-than-“BYOO-WAYNOZE DYE-ASS” accent when attempting Spanish (as I do), It’s common courtesy to want to try to pronounce a word properly if you know how. If you don’t, then don’t try it. Excuse your bad pronunciation.

    Of course, I am dealing here with conversations conducted in ENGLISH, in which the odd Spanish word MAY here and there creep in. And the same could be said about the use of any language around native speakers. That it happens, in THIS instance, to be about a minority which seems to resist linguistic assimilation due to the steadiness of the influx of those who speak ONE particular language, and that much greater accommodation seems to be given THEM, is the more pertinent issue here, not whether words are to be pronounced in any particular way when they are not “native-English” words or words of such long-standing use in English that they have lost their “foreignness” (e.g., “Loss Anjeliss” as opposed to “Loace Ahn[g]-hell-ess”).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually got a reply out of Jose one time (pretended to be a curious lefty) and he said he tries to do it for all languages….i.e. to appease. Again, if it’s EASL (English as 2nd language)….obviously there’s going to be an accent. What grates on me is when people with perfect English — like, President Obama, for example — stress Spanish accents on words of Latino origin. If you’re speaking Spanish, that’s one thing. But if you’re speaking English perfectly but then say “LLlllllllllatino”…I cringe a bit. And while it does grate on me, and I do think there’s a larger issue imminently at play with respect to having a single language that allows for unity and understanding…I want and need to close this response with this: Did you watch the SNL skit? Because it’s as apt as it is hilarious and I doubt they’d ever do one like that in this day and age. : )

      Like

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