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Gringal

Apr 14, 2009, 9:51 AM

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GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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I don't know about the rest of you, but I know what my Mexican neighbors call us behind our backs...either with a shrug or a sneer. You know, too, don't you?

So, the pedantic types have chastised the acceptance of the appellation "Gringo" so harshly that now I am considering abandoning the tag I've used for lo, these five years, and switch to something more expat-acceptable. Originally, I thought it was a pretty good pun, based on "grin", since I don't take life too seriously, and of course, gender, as in "gal".

What do some of you old-timers, think about "Tweety" with a picture of a budgie? Good fit?
Or should I continue to offend the sensibilities of the expatly-correct?



bournemouth

Apr 14, 2009, 10:09 AM

Post #2 of 45 (7452 views)

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Re: [Gringal] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Just to continue to "offend" - think of the enjoyment you will get from it!


yucatandreamer


Apr 14, 2009, 10:26 AM

Post #3 of 45 (7447 views)

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Re: [Gringal] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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One of the best things about living in Mexico is leaving behind all those people who felt it was not only their right but their duty to lecture on how to think and behave. Nothing wrong with Gringal. Those that are offended actually enjoy having their knickers in a twist. It makes them feel alve.


wendy devlin

Apr 14, 2009, 1:37 PM

Post #4 of 45 (7416 views)

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Re: [yucatandreamer] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Mae West may have said.
(although I can't find the quote anywhere, today looking)

"Call me anything, honey. But call me!"


Hound Dog

Apr 14, 2009, 1:45 PM

Post #5 of 45 (7410 views)

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Re: [Gringal] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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So, the pedantic types have chastised the acceptance of the appellation "Gringo" so harshly that now I am considering abandoning the tag I've used for lo, these five years, and switch to something more expat-acceptable.

Pedantic types? Pedantic Types!

I thought you were my friend Gringal but I know of no one hereabouts as vocally objecting to the widespread use of the term "gringo" as is The Dawg and The Dawg is an old underachieving redneck boy from the backwoods of Alabama raised in her public schools including the University of Alabama which was required by law in those days (the 1960s) to enroll any white boy who graduated from the state´s public schools even with a "D" average as I had and, I might add, maintained throughout four years at Alabama´s business college and fellow students in my chosen classes were so dumb half the Alabama football team including the charming but intellectually untalented Joe Namath, were my classmates. Any professor who failed one of Bear Bryant´s boys in those days was soon heading for the Tennessee border with considerable tar and feathers to remove upon his arrival in that fine state.

More shortly. Dawg must run an errand for his Jefa.


Gringal

Apr 14, 2009, 2:32 PM

Post #6 of 45 (7398 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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I figgered you'd be chiming in there sooner or later. And coming from a "hound dog". REALLY !! Snuffle, snuffle, howl. (You know that your "friends" don't necessarily agree with you.)

You really think any ordinary Mexican refers to us pale skinned, often blue eyed, furriners as "estranjeros"? C'mon.

Well, maybe not "tweetybird", but something equally innocuous, maybe? Politically and expatially correct suggestions welcome.


Ustlach


Apr 14, 2009, 2:37 PM

Post #7 of 45 (7396 views)

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Re: [Gringal] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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I almost always refer to myself as a gringo and it never fails to get at least a grin out of the Mexicans I deal with.

When I ring the bell at my dentist's gate to gain admission to her garage so I can walk sideways past her dirty old Bocho, I always announce myself: soy el gringo con una cita a las ... whatever time the appointment is for. After she stops snickering, or is it sniggering, the receptionist pushes the buzzer and in I go.

I just told the guy mowing my neighbor's lawn that I am the gringo who lives in the house across the street and could he come and mow my lawn, too.

As if any of these people need to be told I am a gringo. If they can see me, they know. Blond and gray hair, blue eyes, light skin, floopy hat to shade against the sun, shorts, Hard Rock t-shirt, sandles. Which Mexican answers to that description? Of course I am a gringo.

It disarms them and breaks the ice.

Hey, I find the Germans' way of calling us "Ami's" (short for "Amerikaner") far more offensive, because of the WAY they say it and because I know they don't like us, in general. Mexicans don't feel that way about gringos. They like us, even admire us, certainly envy us, and most of them want to be friends, or at least recipients of our generosity.

If a Mexican wants to insult or vent about a gringo or gringa, he has a plethora of adjectives he can stick on front of the word, or behind it, depending, and then you know.

No one has ever called me a p____e gringo, not to my face. So I assume all is well. I call myself a gringo, and they think it is cute.


Hound Dog

Apr 14, 2009, 3:00 PM

Post #8 of 45 (7389 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Mae West may have said.
(although I can't find the quote anywhere, today looking)

"Call me anything, honey. But call me!"


Thank you Wendy. You have defined the problem most articulately.

There was a famous actress in France in the 1930s who famously collaborated with the nazis in WW11 and was, as were many men and women in France, disgraced after the war and made to be humiliated in the public realm largely by having their heads shaved.

Her most famous quote when she was accused of collaboration with the hated nazis was somethng like this:

"My heart belongs to France but my *ss is universal."

That´s cute isn´t it. Such a cheap "*ss". A person selling their "*ss" for butter and lard and wine and cognac and bread and foie gras and all the things we will no longer prize when we rot in our graves with those we sold down the river a thousand times to nourish ourselves while they wasted away in concentration camps eating gruel.

When I had my recent bout with billirubin I discovered something. When you are diseased you lose your taste for everything you prized. It makes no difference how succulent the dish may have been in the past. It is now without value in any sense. In fact it becomes hard and unpleasant to ingest.

I grew up in a devoutly racist society to the point they had encoded insignificance and encouraged morbid self-hatred among a permanent underclass meant to serve their "betters". I saw black people who made up about half that society in my home town go from being referred to in racially insulting terms to "colored folk" and boys and girls and happy folk who loved to sing and dance and I will tell you that the most harmless seeming term used as exclusionary is poison to the human spirit.

Right, fellow "Gringos" and countrymen and countrywomen who deride yourselves with negative descrpitive terms?

No even one person I have ever met in in Chiapas, whether of indigenous or mestizo descent, would ever use that word "gringo" to or about a foreigner in mixed company and among the few times I have used it myself I caused obvious and profound embarrassment among by Mexican friends and acquaintances.

Call yourselves anything you wish but at least show some personal dignity when posting publicy and refrain from calling yourslves "colored boys". It is unbecoming and hurts all of your status; not just you. Don´t be a Stepin Fetchit.


Hound Dog

Apr 14, 2009, 3:08 PM

Post #9 of 45 (7384 views)

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Re: [GringoinSonora] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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 I almost always refer to myself as a gringo and it never fails to get at least a grin out of the Mexicans I deal with.

That´s because you have embarrased them and yourself.

Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland) always got a grin or even an outright guffaw from his patronizing white audience when he exclaimed

"Yahsuh Mr. Chan. Feets don´t fail me now!"

As Roger Rabbit would say:

"Pulleeze".







esperanza

Apr 14, 2009, 3:15 PM

Post #10 of 45 (7379 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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What my friend the Dog said goes double for me.

If I'm speaking English, any foreigner is just that: a foreigner. Doesn't matter his/her origin.

If I'm speaking Spanish, any foreigner is an extranjero(a).

I simply cannot understand why any foreigner would call him or herself a name that is so deprecatory and ugly.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Gringal

Apr 14, 2009, 3:25 PM

Post #11 of 45 (7370 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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I think the Dawg is drawing comparisons that don't fit, such as comparing the names the ruling class called the black people in the South. Or trying to compare the customs of his Chiapas area with those here in lakeside. Or trying to tie it in with issues from WWII.

We expats are NOT the ruling class in Mexico, nor are we a downtrodden minority who should look for offense if none is meant. When it is meant, we know it. People don't really need language to understand one another.

When I refer to another foreigner, I don't use the term "gringo" or "gringa", lest they be one of those offended. Who knows? My own levity in taking the tag "gringal" is not something I recommend to anyone else. However I have noticed that most people take themselves and their "dignity" entirely too seriously. If you have a solid sense of your own worth in the world, you don't need to make a great issue about it.

Now, how does "Goddespirit" sound? Too 70's?


(This post was edited by Gringal on Apr 14, 2009, 3:43 PM)


sioux4noff

Apr 14, 2009, 3:32 PM

Post #12 of 45 (7368 views)

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Re: [esperanza] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Maybe it's because there are so many of us gringos in this area, but I hear people using it in a way that is not offensive.
For instance, I call my friend at work and when the person answering the phone (who I also know) calls to tell him, she refers to me as tu amiga la gringa. I've aske both of them if they thought the term was derogatory and they said basically no, it's just a description like your short friend, or your fat friend, etc.
I frequent a restaurant run by a dark-skinned woman people call la negrita. Certainly not fashionable with some folks, but no problem in (at least this part of) Mexico. She has told me she has many clientes gringos even tho it is predominantly a local neighborhood place. Serving among other dishes - gringas. For us cannibals, it seems.
Other times I have heard people who I am acquainted with use the term gringo, and not in a derogatory way, and they also seem to lump those from Canada and the US in the gringo bucket together
So, maybe it is not as big a deal here as it is in Chiapas. But I'll keep it in mind when I travel there.


wendy devlin

Apr 14, 2009, 3:41 PM

Post #13 of 45 (7363 views)

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Re: [Gringal] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Your faint praise, is music to my ears, Bubba.

However, an accomplished wordsmith as yourself might readily recognize the difference between the noun, 'gringo' and the host of adjectives that could be evoked, to describe that noun.

For me, personally, there's often a world of difference between a Mexican amigo or acquaintenance from calling me a 'gringa' than a 'pin#che gringa'.

Like you and Esperanza, am aware of moving in certain social circles where the noun 'gringo' would generally be considered, close to a swear word and an insult. In other social circles, of my acquaintenance, the negative context would not be implied, but more viewed, as a descriptive, adjective identifying me, as 'not Mexican' and usually used in a familial or affectionate context.

You guys, live full-time in Mexico. I don't. Maybe my idea would change.

However my basic premise boils down to: do you define yourself. Within a relative social context.
Or do you allow others to 'define' by noun or adjective to define who you are.
And be involved, unduly. Being offended or pleased by that description.

A rose by any other name. Would smell as sweet.


wendy devlin

Apr 14, 2009, 3:48 PM

Post #14 of 45 (7363 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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There are two posts between my post and Bubba's and Esperanza's.
Two other people that live full-time in Mexico.

Seems that the definition of this word, will largely be an individual perception.


esperanza

Apr 14, 2009, 5:19 PM

Post #15 of 45 (7341 views)

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Re: [Gringal] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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When I refer to another foreigner, I don't use the term "gringo" or "gringa", lest they be one of those offended...However I have noticed that most people take themselves and their "dignity" entirely too seriously. If you have a solid sense of your own worth in the world, you don't need to make a great issue about it.

I think that it's a huge and really slippery leap from objecting to the word 'gringo' to suggesting that such an objection is due to a failure to have a solid sense of your own worth in the world. A sense of humor is one thing, and a sense of propriety is another. A sense of one's self in the world is so apart from either of those that it doesn't enter the realm of this conversation.

Ninety-nine times out of 100 when I have heard Mexicans use the word 'gringo' it's in a way that is deprecatory or worse, usually preceded by 'pinche'--in other words, designed to be taken as an offense. At Lake Chapala, in Pátzcuaro, in Morelia's small foreign community, and in San Miguel de Allende, every foreigner with whom I've conversed uses 'gringo' to describe him or herself as well as to describe other foreigners. My question remains: why would people elect to describe themselves in a manner that is used to deprecate their group or themselves as individuals within that group?

I'm just very puzzled by the foreign inability to develop cultural literacy about this word. In polite Mexican society--without regard for social class, 'polite society' cuts across social classes--'gringo' is simply not a word that is used to describe a foreigner.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Hound Dog

Apr 14, 2009, 5:36 PM

Post #16 of 45 (7331 views)

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Re: [esperanza] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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I am quite pleased we are having this discussion.

It is worth continuing but I lack the energy tonight.

Tomorrow I would like to move us off of the subject of African Americans and European Americans and Mexicans of many stripes and move on to various other ethnic confrontations around the world as I am off to Fance which is also full of ethnic confrontations and you guys can stew in your own juice.

It´s easy in the short run to ignore ethnic insults but just ask European Jews or Serbs or Albanians or Turkish Armenians where that leads you in the long run.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Apr 14, 2009, 5:38 PM)


sioux4noff

Apr 14, 2009, 6:08 PM

Post #17 of 45 (7319 views)

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Re: [esperanza] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Quote
If I'm speaking English, any foreigner is just that: a foreigner. Doesn't matter his/her origin.

If I'm speaking Spanish, any foreigner is an extranjero(a).


Certainly that makes sense.
How do you refer to a foreigner from the USA?
I have heard Mexicans of all education levels refer to people from the US as americanos, but there are those (particularly on this board it seems) who vehemently say no, that is not correct.
I've never heard a Mexican, a Canadian or anyone from a South American country refer to themselves as an American. So, yeah, American can refer to anyone from North or South America, but could common usage actual prevail vs geographical correctness?
People from New York City refer to themselves as New Yorkers, as to people who are from Albany, NY. All are correctly New Yorkers and that seems to work out.


Gringal

Apr 14, 2009, 6:08 PM

Post #18 of 45 (7319 views)

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Re: [esperanza] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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"I think that it's a huge and really slippery leap from objecting to the word 'gringo' to suggesting that such an objection is due to a failure to have a solid sense of your own worth in the world. "

With all due respect, Esperanza, that is not precisely what I said or even intended to imply. You or I can object to a label, or not. It does not bother me to be labeled since labels in general have nothing to do with me. They are other peoples' perceptions and I don't internalize them. One can have a very solid sense of self-worth and at the same time be very upset by someone else's using derogatory labels. Another person with an equally solid sense of self-worth can simply not care. We are all different.

Some people are more concerned than others with this matter, as evidenced by the various posts on this thread. I think we have just about exhausted the subject and I, for one, are ready to agree to disagree, agreeably.

I am glad that the subject provoked some lively discussion and came out of the shadows.


johanson


Apr 14, 2009, 6:10 PM

Post #19 of 45 (7315 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Yo no soy Gringo, yo soy pinche gringo, guey (wey). It's really great to see the old group posting here again. It's like the good old days. Welcome back.


And darn I have to head north to Seattle and then to "The Island" for 7 weeks if the sun ever comes out up in WA and BC

Again it's great to have you all back and active.

As you know, I am in bad health, (I'm sober, a dangerous condition) I'm heading to the bar, at least I think that is what I call my kitchen and have a line of diet coke actually diet Pepsi, (it tastes better and is cheaper than coke) mixed with a great diuretic, called Bacardi Rum.

Have a good night all. And welcome back


RickS


Apr 14, 2009, 6:20 PM

Post #20 of 45 (7311 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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And I was hoping that we could all just agree to disagree and move on. I'm tired of the subject and the Dawg's just plain tired.

But then I thought, 'you don't have to read these posts any more'.... so have at it, ya'll.


esperanza

Apr 14, 2009, 6:43 PM

Post #21 of 45 (7308 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Quote
If I'm speaking English, any foreigner is just that: a foreigner. Doesn't matter his/her origin.

If I'm speaking Spanish, any foreigner is an extranjero(a).

Certainly that makes sense.
How do you refer to a foreigner from the USA?
I have heard Mexicans of all education levels refer to people from the US as americanos, but there are those (particularly on this board it seems) who vehemently say no, that is not correct.
I've never heard a Mexican, a Canadian or anyone from a South American country refer to themselves as an American. So, yeah, American can refer to anyone from North or South America, but could common usage actual prevail vs geographical correctness?
People from New York City refer to themselves as New Yorkers, as to people who are from Albany, NY. All are correctly New Yorkers and that seems to work out.

A foreigner from the United States of America is an estadounidense.

A foreigner from Canada is a canadiense.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









bournemouth

Apr 14, 2009, 7:02 PM

Post #22 of 45 (7302 views)

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Re: [esperanza] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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But extranjero/a is so much easier to say than "estadounidense".


Papirex


Apr 14, 2009, 7:05 PM

Post #23 of 45 (7301 views)

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Re: [esperanza] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Esperanza, I think it is a mixture of ignorance and misinformation. Most Mexicans are very polite unless they have reason to dislike someone. If an English speaking person asks a Mexican if the word Gringo is denigrating or insulting, they will almost always smile and answer no, it is just an easy word to use.


I learned in the 1930s the true meaning of the word from some of my Mexican-American classmates in grammar school. There were, and are many Hispanic families in Napa County California. Those families had been there for over 200 years, since what was then called “Alta California” was a part of Spain before there was a country called México.


Here is a little story I will tell on myself. My Mexican wife and I were married in the mid 1980s. I had been to México many times, and I lived on the border in Brownsville, Texas in the 1970s. After our marriage in Alaska we made a trip to her home town of México City to meet most of her family.


Of course, they were giving me the grand tour of the city, visits to the museums, pyramids, floating gardens, cathedrals, etc. One of the places they wanted me to see was the Monte de Piedad, That is the government owned national pawnshop. It was fascinating, There were many valuable items for sale there at very low prices, fine jewelry, genuine Rolex watches for around $1,000 Dollars, etc.


People were selling their family treasures because the mid 1980s was the time of the most severe Peso devaluation in recent memory, 1994 was mild, but more dramatic because the Peso lost half its value virtually overnight. The Peso dropped from about 32 to the US Dollar in 1982 to over 3.000 to the Dollar by early 1994 before the “New Pesos” were issued. Those are the same Pesos we use today.


Anyway, there was a very pretty and very drunk American woman in The Monte de Piedad that decided that she was going to take me home with her. She made pass after pass at me right in front of Doris and her family. I did my best to shake her off, and I finally got rid of her.


After the woman left, Doris looked at me and asked, “What is wrong with that woman?” I answered, “A gringa.” Doris and her whole family broke out in laughter, They all realized then that I know the meaning of gringo and gringa.


I have never been called a gringo, if I ever am, I will know I am being insulted.


People that are not really fluent in colloquial Spanish believe it is an innocuous word. It is not.


Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


sioux4noff

Apr 14, 2009, 7:11 PM

Post #24 of 45 (7296 views)

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Re: [Papirex] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Quote

If they were truly polite, they would tell you that yes, it is insulting and you should not use it.
I have asked Mexicans about other terms and been told that they are not nice to use, but are commonly used.
I believe those I have asked about the word "gringo" I know well enough to trust their answers.


jerezano

Apr 15, 2009, 7:51 AM

Post #25 of 45 (7235 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?

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Hello,

This subject of gringo and gringa as well as other appelations is fascinating. It seems to me that we should be sensitive to where we live here in Mexico. That's the key.

Here in Zacatecas where I have lived for some 21 years now I have been called without being insulted everything from bollilo to Gabacho with gringo being the most common. The only time I was really insulted was when I was called an "eminence gris" during the short Panama incursion.

And without being insulted doesn't mean that I am just insensitive and don't know when I'm being insulted. The only time I really felt insulted by the word gringo was in a bank when a Canadian stranger called me a pinche gringo. But then I quickly realized he didn't know what he was saying. So did the rest of the people who had gone absolutely silent on hearing what he said.

How did we all realize that he wasn't trying to insult me but didn't know what he was saying? Easy. By his attitude. He was actually trying to be friendly.

Regions have different customs. Here in Zacatecas where so many of the Mexican men have lived and worked in the US, gringo just happens to be a convenient way of describing us. Just as in Orange County California the word Gabacho is the most common.

And perhaps there in Chiapas as Houn' Dawg has said gringo is an insulting term. And other posters say much the same for other regions.

But my take is the one gringal has posted. Consider the attitude and the local use.

After all, "Merry Widow" doesn't sound bad at all unless we realize what it means when said as an insult . Politically correct term for such a woman here in Zacatecas es "una mujer galante." Viuda alegre is not used probably because it is considered insulting.

Hasta luego, el gringo jerezano.
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