Saturday, July 14, 2007

You're what the French call, "Les incompetent"

Bonus points if you know what movie that's from...

There was an SNL sketch many years ago (Jimmy Smits was hosting) where they were in an office and trying to decide what they wanted to eat for lunch. They were mentioning a lot of Mexican dishes, and every time they did, they said them with this really exaggerated Spanish accent. This was during one of SNL's "not funny" periods, so it wasn't that entertaining.

BUT, it did get me thinking-- What makes it weird/funny for people who aren't native Spanish speakers to use an accent when saying Spanish words? When a person uses a French word or phrase, the expectation is that he/she will attempt to replicate the correct French pronunciation. What makes it different for Spanish?

Say my two examples out loud...
Example: Je ne sais quoi. If you know this phrase, chances are you said it much like a Parisian would.
Example: Enchilada. Not so much with this one. What's up with that?

My theory is because French is seen as being cooler and more sophisticated, and Spanish is not. Why? Because white people speak French, and brown people speak Spanish.

Which leads me to a somewhat related topic--Spaniards. When you think of a person from Spain, do you associate them more closely with Europe, or Latin America? Do Spainiards consider themselves "white"? For that matter, do lighter-skinned Europeans consider themselves "white", or is that a concept that stays within the borders of the U.S.A? Inquiring minds want to know.