I get asked a lot of questions (don’t we all, though?). Here are a few of the most common ones and the proper responses.
Q: Why don’t they just learn English?
A: I’ll assume they is referring to Hispanics. Well, Hispanics are learning English. In April, the Pew Hispanic Center released a study entitled When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity. Among foreign-born Hispanics, 38% were bilingual and 24% are English dominant. Among U.S.-born Hispanics, more than half (51%) are English dominant.
Hispanics also believe learning English is important. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) Hispanics say adult Hispanic immigrants need to learn English to succeed in the U.S. One of the major problems is that English is a royal pain in el culo to learn.
For example… I unsuccessfully tried explaining the following 2 English concepts this past week during a English as a Second Language (ESL) session.
Close (the door), Close (too close to call), Clothes (do you really pronounce the “th” ? Huh? Do ya? Huh?), Glenn Close (rabbit cooker… and yes, Glenn is a man’s name in nearly every other case.). This is very hard to do.
Night, Fight, Right, Might, Sight, Tight, Light… Eight. Doh! Best answer I came up with… “Yeah, well it gets worse. Ahem… Bite, Write, Kite, White….
Q: Are you the only Spanish-speaking redhead on Earth?
A: No. There is a famous redheaded boxer from Guadalajara named Saúl Álvarez. He is the current WBC Light Middleweight Champion. His nickname is El Canelo, in a reference to Cinnamon. No Opie Taylor references for Saúl. And then there is the famous El Chapulín Colorado – The Red Grasshopper.
El Chapulín was created and played by Roberto Gómez Bolaños, a successful Mexican comedian and TV show producer. The popularity of El Chapulín extends beyond borders in Latin America. The Simpsons has a character based off of El Chapulín – The Bumble Bee Man. National Gypsum, in a marketing move to target the Hispanic demographic (good move) acquired the El Chapulín rights and are putting him to use selling 5/8” drywall.
Q: I feel Hispanics often talk s*** about me in Spanish while on site. Are they?
A: Good question, one that requires 2 answers.
UNO: Probably. If you only talk to Hispanics on the jobsite when things go wrong or you need something done immediately… Then yeah, they are probably talking s*** about you. Can you blame them? Do you like people who only try to communicate with you when they need something? Ok, then. Be nice. Start saying hello.
DOS: No, they’re not. Get over yourself. If you’re so paranoid about it, learn a few words in Spanish and use them. Get them wondering just exactly how much you know…. Or quit with the games altogether and just speak to them. Most Hispanics on the job speak better English than you do Spanish.
Q: Why is it so hard to understand Sofia Vergara?
A: Two reasons. UNO: Because you are distracted by her beauty. I’ll leave it at that. DOS: In Spanish, the English letter I is pronounced as an English E. So, when the Modern Family estrella wants to say, “Phil, Listen to him – he’s sick.” it sounds like, “FEEEL, LEEEE-sin to EEEEM, EEEEES SEEEEK.”
Q: Why are so many cars named with Spanish words?
A: Because statistically it’s been proven Americans prefer to buy cars with names that end in a vowel. As far as you know. And because Henry Ford’s Playbook says so: Page 67, paragraph 4 verse 1: “When devising upon an automobile’s name, thou shalt first visit a Spanish diccionario prior to all other committances and strenuations.”
- Buick Verano (summer)
- Honda del sol (of the sun)
- Chevy Nova (don’t go)
- Kia Río (river)
- Buick Terraza (deck, terrace)
- Nissan Murano (swine)
- GMC Sierra (saw)
- Hyundai Santa Fe (saint faith)
- Chevy El Camino (the way)
- Cadillac El Dorado (the golden one)
- Hyundai Tiburon (shark)
- Audi Cuattro (four)
- Lamborghini Diablo (devil)
- Lamborghini Murcielago (bat)
This could go on all night… I won’t even discuss Isuzu’s Hombre and Amigo…
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.
Categories: Jobsite Leadership