Sunday, January 31, 2016

Whither the Language of Cervantes?

While waiting to pick my daughter up from her friend's Bat Mitzvah, I turned on the radio only to find one of the most annoying programs, Latino USA, on air, and immediately turned the dial, but with nothing else to listen to I turned it back. Here's what I learned:
  • If your thought languages with grammatical gender (the only real kind) would be resistant to "gender-neutralization" you were wrong — Latinx: The Ungendering of the Spanish Language. My experience in both Chile and among Nuyoricans is that transvestism is more far more common among latinos (or latinx, now) that it is among anglos.
  • We are supposed to find heartwarming this story of a gay Guatemalan illegal migrant who gets "asylum" and becomes the country's only Mam language court interpreter, whom tax-payers now fly around the country to make defendents feel happy to hear their own language spoken in American courts of law — The Accidental Interpreter.
  • A editor suggests that American pop songs sing about being wronged while Spanish-language pop songs sing about saying sorry — Before 'Sorry' There Was 'Perdón:' The Definitive Theory on Latino Apology Anthems. The author also suggests that latino boyfriends do not follow John Wayne counsel, "Never apologize, mister, it's a sign of weakness," but rather are in a constant state of apology. Machismo, I've long believed, whether partcied by the Hispanics who gave us the term or attempted by Mohammedans or even East Asians, is in reality a mask for a diseased mama-boy deeply beta culture.
My relation with the Castilian is complex. I studied it in middle and high school, along with the language of my Germanic forebears. (I believe I was the only student in my school to study two languages.) I went on to major in it after testing the waters (but not drinking them) for a couple of months south-of-the-border in anticipation of a possible draft during George Bush père's war. I later studied literature much further south in Chile.

Now that my kids are of an age to choose a foreign language, I have guided them towards more culturally prestigious languages, that of neighboring Quebec for my daughter and that of Ancient Rome for my son. While Nuyoricans have contributed nothing lasting to world culture, even the brightest lights of the Hispanosphere like Miguel de Cervantes and Pedro Calderón de la Barca are mere footnotes. See this — Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment Database Goes Public.

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Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


I'm taking German and Italian myself now.

As for Spanish, my late grandmother always insisted that whatever it is that gets spoken in Latin America is almost a different language from what she learned in her native Spain. ("Like American English and British English?" I asked. A little she said, but intensify it about ten times. I supposed you'd have to be a "real" Spanish speaker to get it.) In any case, you're right that it doesn't seem to be a huge cultural force any longer. "From evening isles fanastical rings faint the Spanish gun," G.K. Chesterton wrote in Lepanto--and perhaps we can now say the same of the Spanish tongue.

February 1, 2016 at 11:29 PM  

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