Archive for July, 2012

Que Dijo?

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Life Stories
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I don’t understand how learning something can be seen as a deficiency.  For some reason in our country, the Greatest Country of all, we don’t value bilingual or multilingual education enough to make it mandatory.  We’re so badass that we think everyone should just learn English.  Even the poorest Countries around the world teach a minimum of two languages.  I see some changes happening and we’re trying to do our part to help but we ALL need to get involved.  We were lucky though, even if  we had to go through some phases of being teased and embarrassed, we learned two languages.  We had no choice, we grew up translating for our parents, grandparents and even family friends all of the time.  Most sentences started with, “Que dijo?” or “Dile que…”.  It was normal for us, whether we were at the grocery store, on the phone or translating an important letter.  We learned to fight with the Cable Companies and Telemarketers at an early age, that’s why we’re so good at it!  Although I do remember when the Telemarketers got smart and hired Bilingual Reps!  I remember my dad saying, “Dile que no hablo ingles” and I said, “ya le dije” Dad: “y Que Dijo?” Me: “que el habla español”, I can’t tell you what my Dad said next, but I can tell you he was Pissed when I handed him the phone.  Being bilingual has opened so many doors in my life and I’m just so very thankful that my parents always pushed us to be proud of our Heritage and our Language.

In case you didn’t know, I’m a big Documentary Fan.  One film that really sticks out to me regarding this topic is the Academy Award Winning HBO Film “Strangers No More”.  If you have an opportunity to watch it, do it, I highly recommend it.


Growing up Bilingual in America you learn a lot of crazy words and phrases.  You hear both English and Spanish words butchered all of the time.  You need to know a bit of both to make sense of it all, and even then it’s tough.  Like when my cousin told me, “man, ando bien llanta”.  I was like, “what the heck is that?”  He said, “I’m tired”.  Or when my buddy Armando told me about this great sandwich place called Choloski.  I’d never heard of it, so when he told me where it was I realized he was talking about Schlotzky’s!  I also remember my parents taking us to a nice park with a little Creek where we would spend hours swimming.  The name of that place was “El Pee Pan”, or so I thought.  I always wondered why people called it that but just assumed that it was just because a bunch of kids probably pee’d there.  When I finally drove by there as an adult I saw a sign out front that read “The Pig Pen”, it finally clicked! This is a very small example of what we grow up hearing and as you can imagine it can be very entertaining!

Some of my other favorite words/phrases include Humenteer parties (Home Interior Parties), Feeling Sams (Ceiling Fans), Murmir(Dormir), Chootio (Shoot/Tiro)

Oh and my Chicano/Gringo Friends if it’s hot outside and you want to express how uncomfortable you are please don’t say, “estoy bien caliente”, just a piece of friendly advice.  That’s not what that means 🙂


Posted: July 20, 2012 in Life Stories

Although we were teased at times, we found ways of taking advantage of our language at an early age.  All of us Spanish Speaking kids would always talk “in secret”, or at least that’s what the teachers thought.  We were always getting in trouble for communicating in Spanish; Like we were saying something bad or planning some crime or something.  We would get the occasional, “this is America, you should speak in English”.  This came from the teachers as well as the students.  But we didn’t care because when we hit the Cafeteria, it was ON!!  Our “speaking in code” became a VIP pass.  It’s like there was an instant connection between you and the lunch ladies.  In fact some of them were my moms friends, so you knew you were going to get hooked up!  “Hi Mijo you want an extra panecito or some more pollito?”, no problem!  The food was good too, they would actually cook in the cafeterias, so we grew up healthy (maybe too healthy).  Our little tray was packed when we went to our seat.  Then, the trading began!  I guess that was when I learned to barter.  My parents may not have spent money on Fruit Roll Ups or Oreo Cookies, but we found a way to get some!  Those were the days.  BTW, the VIP pass still works today, you should see the omelets I get at work!

I grew up in the West Texas Town of Abilene. There weren’t very many Latinos where I grew up so speaking Spanish wasn’t too hip. I remember that some of the kids would tease us because we spoke Spanish. Even some Latino kids that didn’t speak Spanish would make fun of us. They actually made us ashamed of knowing a second language. I remember that I didn’t want my mom to come to some school functions because I didn’t want people to know that she didn’t speak English well. It’s crazy that people who grew up in that Era decided to stop speaking Spanish altogether and now pass that down to their children because they’re afraid to be teased. We are in a New Era now, I’m sure there are kids that will always tease but more people are embracing a multilingual education.