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Brian

Aug 22, 2009, 4:37 PM

Post #1 of 33 (7566 views)

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Dialect and Language discussion - pulled from another thread . . .

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"Mexicans treat their fellow man (and woman) as fully functional human beings, worthy of respect...."

I'm not so sure that I can agree with this completely either. The indigenous people in Mexico, many of whom speak dialects rather than Spanish, receive less than equal treatment from their mestizo countrymen. I still remember Alma, my upper class Tijuana neighbor, telling my wife and I that we should hire a "muchacha de Oaxaca" to clean the house rather than a local woman because they can be paid lower wages and are more docile. The pollos from the southern parts of the country, who weren't able to cross La Linea successfully, were a dime a dozen.

Brian


(This post was edited by DavidMcL on Aug 26, 2009, 2:06 PM)



esperanza

Aug 22, 2009, 6:16 PM

Post #2 of 33 (7525 views)

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Re: [Brian] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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"...The indigenous people in Mexico, many of whom speak dialects rather than Spanish, receive less than equal treatment from their mestizo countrymen..."
Brian


Brian, the indigenous people of Mexico don't speak dialects. They speak distinct languages such as Purhépecha, Tzotzil, Nahua, Mayan, and many others. A dialect is derived from a mother language; each of the many indigenous languages of Mexico is a mother language.


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Brian

Aug 22, 2009, 6:27 PM

Post #3 of 33 (7515 views)

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Re: [esperanza] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Thanks, esperanza. I guess I have been misusing the word dialect for a long time. One is never too old to learn something new every day.

Brian


(This post was edited by Brian on Aug 22, 2009, 6:33 PM)


La Isla


Aug 22, 2009, 9:30 PM

Post #4 of 33 (7510 views)

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Re: [Brian] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Thanks, esperanza. I guess I have been misusing the word dialect for a long time. One is never too old to learn something new every day.

Brian


One reason you may have used "dialecto" to describe languages of indigenous people here is that many Mexicans use that word themselves. I've always thought of it as a sort of subtle put-down of native peoples, their languages, and their culture in general.


Zorba

Aug 22, 2009, 11:25 PM

Post #5 of 33 (7498 views)

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Re: [La Isla] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Personally, when I think of Mexicans "polite" is not one of the first words that comes to mind. When I think of the Japanese, most certainly. Americans, certainly not. Canadians, yes. And so on and so on. So, it is all relative I suppose. Perhaps, some people find Mexicans polite because they are coming straight from the U.S. or haven't lived elsewhere. Also, unless you are able to converse at an advanced level in the language, it is difficult to accurately judge. Who knows what someone may be saying or insinuating.

Having said that, there are certain norms of respect that are followed (such as using "Usted" etc.) which are primarily ceremonial. You may have a person dumping their garbage in front of your door which is very rude. Yet, when you confront them with it, they will be all polite, but will continue to dump their garbage or key your car or something.

If you asked a Mexican if they are polite, they would likely laugh and say no.


(This post was edited by Zorba on Aug 22, 2009, 11:29 PM)


ken_in_dfw

Aug 23, 2009, 8:17 AM

Post #6 of 33 (7467 views)

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Re: [Zorba] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Mexicans are polite in the same way that people from the southern U.S. are said to be "polite." They may smile and say "bless your heart" when they're really thinking what an idiot you are.

That said, I think there is a genuine warmth and gracious embrace of humanity - with all its flaws and foibles - among most Mexicans that seems to be lacking, or layered in cynicism, among people from the U.S. or people from most western European countries (with which I am most familiar).


BajaGringo


Aug 23, 2009, 10:38 AM

Post #7 of 33 (7444 views)

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Re: [ken_in_dfw] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Five years ago when my fourteen year old daughter passed away, my Mexican neighbors here in Baja surrounded me with love, support and countless acts of incredible kindness that I have never experienced north of the border. Mexico has it flaws but I will always be endeared to the warm and giving hearts of the family spirit here...


Our House Building Project in Mexico...
Lomas de San Martin
Loving Life on the Baja Peninsula


richmx2


Aug 23, 2009, 12:17 PM

Post #8 of 33 (7427 views)

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Re: [Zorba] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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"Personally, when I think of Mexicans "polite" is not one of the first words that comes to mind."

Spaniards have been saying "Polite as a Mexican" and the phase has been in print since at least 1618. As to Canadians, let us just say Mexican waiters, hotel maids, and tour operators often express a different opinion.


http://mexfiles.net
http://editorialmazatlan.com


La Isla


Aug 23, 2009, 12:55 PM

Post #9 of 33 (7424 views)

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Re: [ken_in_dfw] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Mexicans are polite in the same way that people from the southern U.S. are said to be "polite." They may smile and say "bless your heart" when they're really thinking what an idiot you are.

That said, I think there is a genuine warmth and gracious embrace of humanity - with all its flaws and foibles - among most Mexicans that seems to be lacking, or layered in cynicism, among people from the U.S. or people from most western European countries (with which I am most familiar).


You seem to be contradicting yourself here, ken. I think that part of, as you put it, the "genuine warmth and gracious embrace of humanity" that is part of personality of most Mexicans is expressed in the formalities of human intercourse that are so common here. Even if everyone who says "buenos días" to me is not entirely sincere, this acknowledgment of my existence and wish that I have a good day helps make my days happier. When I am back in the States, I miss these exchanges of greetings and smiles.


johanson


Aug 23, 2009, 1:09 PM

Post #10 of 33 (7419 views)

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Re: [richmx2] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Rich: I have to admit, I am confused, by your comment. Yes I understand what you mean :) And it is held by some of my fellow Americans here lakeside. But where I grew up near Seattle, the Canadians I knew tipped just as much as did my fellow Americans.

I just phoned two persons, one a caddy, and the other an owner of a restaurant here along the shores of Lake Chapala and their comments were that it had to do more with whether the person was a "naco" or not, not what country the person came from. And one of them made some jokes about the Quebequois but I think he may have been kidding.

In short they said that it had more to do with what class the person came from than what country he was from. And that is what I have noticed as well. But I "aint no" expert


(This post was edited by DavidMcL on Aug 23, 2009, 4:25 PM)


Gringal

Aug 23, 2009, 1:57 PM

Post #11 of 33 (7401 views)

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Re: [johanson] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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IMO, it's impossible to accurately say "Mexicans" or "norteamericanos" are/are not polite, kind, generous, nasty, devious, and all the other characteristics typical of humans. They vary, for any number of reasons. One fella will pick your pocket and another will follow you down the block to return the wallet you dropped in the store.

In the same vein, there is a certain level of hypocrisy between what men and women NOB say they think about sexual fidelity, respect for women, etc...........and what they do in real life. We pay a lot of lip service to certain ideals.
Mexicans are more out front about much of this.

And then......there's driving. Drunk driving, irresonsible driving...and finally road rage, where up north you can get shot for cutting in.

Perhaps the most obvious part of the difference is the use of force to shut down the noisy neighbors' party up NOB, while in Mexico......we suffer in silence. Ideally, we can pick a neighborhood where things quiet down at night most of the time. Or use ear plugs. Or, in our older years, take out the hearing aids.

On the treatment of animals.....it seems like the situation NOB has gone a bit overboard in the opposite direction. Pets are no longer dogs or cats.......they are members of the family. In the past few decades, the amount spent on them has skyrocketed. Perhaps it's because they remain in the "toddler" stage and never become teenagers. lol.

I think there has been some improvement in the treatment of animals in Mexico in recent years, but it is still sad to see some of the suffering.


ken_in_dfw

Aug 23, 2009, 2:16 PM

Post #12 of 33 (7399 views)

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Re: [La Isla] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Actually, la isla, I think you're making my point. There absolutely is a veneer of social graciousness, that is predicated on an outlook that society is more "civilized" when folks act nicely toward one another, regardless of how they really feel. That top layer, call it "being polite" if you will, is common among the old southern U.S. culture and Mexican culture, in my opinion.

But then there is a deeper layer of human warmth and genuine concern for one's fellow humans that is found in Mexican culture, that is not found in any part of the U.S. or in other so-called "developed" nations. This second layer enables folks in Mexico to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bench in El Jardin or to stop and lend assistance when they see an elderly person or a young mother struggling with bulky packages after getting off the bus.

But even that deeper layer should not be mistaken for the kind of hospitality that opens the doors to one's home and says, "Pásale." As others have noted here, it's really hard to be accepted as part of "la familia." No matter how long you may live in Mexico, that's a barrier that's hard to crack.

So I guess what I'm saying is that the social graces are more "layered" in Mexico than they are in a lot of other places. As most of you know, in the U.S., it's pretty much an on-off switch. Either you're "in" or you're not.

And although my visits to Mexico are all too brief, I know exactly what you mean about missing that social interaction that you get in Mexico. It's a way of life to which I find it all to easy to become addicted!


Judy in Ags


Aug 25, 2009, 8:10 PM

Post #13 of 33 (7301 views)

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Re: [esperanza] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Esperanza, I believe you are mistaken about the relationship of languages and dialects in Mexico. For example here is some information about Tzotzil, one of the languages you mentioned.

Dialects related to TZOTZIL, CHAMULA
There are 10 similar spoken languages and dialects which share the same ISO language code as TZOTZIL, CHAMULA: TZOTZIL, CHAMULA: Ixtapa
TZOTZIL, CHAMULA: Simo Jovel
TZOTZIL, CHAMULA: Totolapa
TZOTZIL: CHENALHO
TZOTZIL, CHENALHO: Mitontic
TZOTZIL, CHENALHO: San Pablo Chalchihuitan
TZOTZIL: HUIXTAN
TZOTZIL: SAN ANDRES
TZOTZIL: VENUSTIANO CARRANZA
TZOTZIL: ZINACANTAN


tonyburton


Aug 25, 2009, 8:28 PM

Post #14 of 33 (7295 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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I believe you are both right, but perhaps talking at cross purposes.
There are more than 60 languages, many of which also have numerous dialects.
See, for example, http://www.mexconnect.com/...ill-spoken-in-mexico


RickS


Aug 25, 2009, 9:00 PM

Post #15 of 33 (7283 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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.... and according to Wikipedia, "There are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects, although a number of rough measures exist, which sometimes render contradictory results. The exact distinction is therefore a subjective one, dependent on the user's frame of reference."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect


Judy in Ags


Aug 26, 2009, 8:39 AM

Post #16 of 33 (7250 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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My point, exactly Tony. The only way a language could remain pure without breaking into dialects would be if it were spoken exclusively in one small area--even then the language would continue to evolve, of course.


richmx2


Aug 26, 2009, 10:22 AM

Post #17 of 33 (7225 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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I think you all are missing the point. A dialect is a variant within a language, and there's no hard and fast rule on when a dialect becomes a separate language (is Espanglish a dialect of English, of Spanish, or a separate language, por exemplo), but the point here is that a Tzotzil speaker is not using a "dialect" of Spanish, but a different language, from a different language family. "Dialect" is often used politically and culturally to suggest the speaker and culture of the minority is of lesser value than the majority culture.


http://mexfiles.net
http://editorialmazatlan.com


Judy in Ags


Aug 26, 2009, 10:55 AM

Post #18 of 33 (7219 views)

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Re: [richmx2] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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I don't really want to belabor this since we're not even on the original topic of this thread.

I don't disagree with you, richmx2, as to the definition (or lack of) of "dialect." I just can't buy into Esperanza statement that,

"Brian, the indigenous people of Mexico don't speak dialects. They speak distinct languages such as Purhépecha, Tzotzil, Nahua, Mayan, and many others. A dialect is derived from a mother language; each of the many indigenous languages of Mexico is a mother language."


BTW, my husband I have do have a linguistics background, so I don't think I'm speaking off the top of my head.


BajaGringo


Aug 26, 2009, 11:03 AM

Post #19 of 33 (7214 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Thank for that Judy - I was just about to ask how we ended up going from Reasons to Move to dialects???


Our House Building Project in Mexico...
Lomas de San Martin
Loving Life on the Baja Peninsula


esperanza

Aug 26, 2009, 12:04 PM

Post #20 of 33 (7204 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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I don't really want to belabor this since we're not even on the original topic of this thread.

I don't disagree with you, richmx2, as to the definition (or lack of) of "dialect." I just can't buy into Esperanza statement that,

"Brian, the indigenous people of Mexico don't speak dialects. They speak distinct languages such as Purhépecha, Tzotzil, Nahua, Mayan, and many others. A dialect is derived from a mother language; each of the many indigenous languages of Mexico is a mother language."


BTW, my husband I have do have a linguistics background, so I don't think I'm speaking off the top of my head.

Brian's post about dialects read, "The indigenous people in Mexico, many of whom speak dialects rather than Spanish, receive less than equal treatment from their mestizo countrymen."

I inferred from what he wrote that he meant that indigenous people speak dialects of Spanish. I stand by my reply to his post. Indigenous languages are not dialects of Spanish.


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BajaGringo


Aug 26, 2009, 12:26 PM

Post #21 of 33 (7205 views)

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Re: [esperanza] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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OK - now you got me on the dialect tangent. Do they actually speak the original indigenous language still in those regions as in centuries past? What happens when Spanish and an indigenous language blend into a third language? Is that a dialect or a new language? if it is a dialect which language is it a dialect of? Both?


Our House Building Project in Mexico...
Lomas de San Martin
Loving Life on the Baja Peninsula


(This post was edited by BajaGringo on Aug 26, 2009, 1:28 PM)


tonyburton


Aug 26, 2009, 1:22 PM

Post #22 of 33 (7196 views)

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Re: [BajaGringo] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Yes, many indigenous people in Mexico still speak unadulterated "original" indigenous languages.
When Spanish and an indigenous language blend, yes, it would be considered a dialect (of whichever language was the dominant one in the fusion) until such time as the differences between the dialect and both Spanish and the other language were major, and met the particular definition of language (as opposed to dialect) being applied. As was said previously in this thread, the precise dividing line between dialect and language varies from authority to authority, and is not set in stone.


jl1

Aug 26, 2009, 2:36 PM

Post #23 of 33 (7172 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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This is to all of the above: The primary purpose of language is communication. It is sometimes fun to engage in the kind of mental gymnastics this thread has engendered, but I think we all know what the OP meant.


Georgia


Aug 26, 2009, 5:09 PM

Post #24 of 33 (7134 views)

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Re: [Gringal] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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A Mexican friend once asked why Mexicans had so many children and fewer pets, while norteamericanos had more pets than children. I responded that our pets don't ask for money. He was more than a little amused.


richmx2


Aug 26, 2009, 5:35 PM

Post #25 of 33 (7119 views)

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Re: [BajaGringo] trying to decide whether or not to move...

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Do we speak the English of Chaucer? Or even the New England Puritans?

Of course, modern Nahuatl, Tzotlin, Mixtec, etc.... as well as Spanish, are not "pure" in the sense that they haven't changed since the 16th century.

As to dialects, what's the big deal. Everyone speaks some dialect. There are 27 recognized different dialects of English just within just the United States alone. Usually, one can understand other dialects of your own language, but not always. I can understand Indic (the main Indian English dialect) with no problem, but some north of England dialects, as well as some Caribbean ones... no. I've watched British movies set in the north of England, where I've had to read the Spanish subtitles to understand the dialogue. And, in Mexico City, I had Jamaican neighbors who I understood better if we communicated in Spanish.

As to "mixed languages" -- no hard and fast rule, but creoles are common throughout the world -- Espanglish might be a creole, might be a dialect. And, just to confuse things, even Espanglish has regional variations.


http://mexfiles.net
http://editorialmazatlan.com
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