VFest: Borderlands/Fronteras

How does the presence of Spanish, English, and indigenous languages influence the way people speak along the border? What evidence of this can you see in the pictures?

In my community, we don't live right on the border, but the border does affect us. The border is inside us. We negotiate our identities as border people every time we open our mouths. The line doesn't run through our communities, but we carry that line within ourselves. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to balance those two sides, those two selves, those two languages, are very valuable people. We have a great resource to offer both sides of the line, as mediators, as communicators, as people who are the front lines of this cultural struggle. --Enrique Lamadrid, Albuquerque, NM

? What does Enrique Lamadrid mean when he says "we carry that line within ourselves"? How can the ability to speak two languages give you the feeling of having "two selves"?

Along the border, jokes often illustrate the complexities of language. The border region is a rich source for bilingual humor. There are many jokes that revolve around the word buey, the "kindest translation" which, as Enrique Lamadrid explains, "would have to be an idiot." Here is a joke:
There were two rancheritos (ranch hands) from Chihuahua who came up to Albuquerque. The construction industry was real slow, and so they decided it might be better to go back to Mexico. They went to the Greyhound station. One fellow was eager to practice the new words of English he had learned.
Rancher: Miss, ticket us for Juárez, please.
Ticket agent: We don't go to Juárez. We go to El Paso though.
Rancher: Oh, okay, ticket us for El Paso, please.
Ticket agent: Is that one way ("way" pronounced like buey, "one buey")?
Rancher: No, somos dos. (Two idiots)
? What do you need to know to understand this joke? Does Enrique's comment about those who are "fortunate enough to balance two languages" make more sense now?

At the Festival in Washington, Carmen Moreno offered another example of the intermingling of Spanish and English:
We're talking about chicanismos. We say vamos a parkiar el carro. A parkiar? What is this? Chicanismos. It's easier to say parkiar el carro than estacionar el carro. --Carmen Moreno, Cathedral City, CA
? Carmen describes a "chicanismo" that turns an English word into Spanish by using Spanish grammar. Another way of creating new language is by changing a noun into a verb. In modern industry new words are always being invented, for example, "computerize." Can you create a new word from a noun?


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8 April 1996