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.


  1. Anonymous10:56 PM

    1. That sketch was hilarious! What's wrong with you?

    2. The "je ne sais quoi" vs "enchilada" difference has to do with contact and repetition (we hear Spanish-speakers say it regularly), but actually, if you get too far from the source, you lose even the trace "enchiLAHda" and it turns into an enchiLADDA.

    3. SpANiards. And yes they do.

  2. Anonymous3:06 PM

    home alone!

  3. Anonymous1:10 PM

    this was home alone one when david s cousin the girl told him that when he asked about how to arrange his suitcase before leaving to paris !

  4. home alone!

  5. Anonymous1:05 PM

    Home alone

  6. frenchy5:49 PM

    You're what the French call les incompetent. I think it all goes back to class when Elizabeth I and before were around, people in court could speak French and therefore seen a higher class so would pronounce it properly. In fact that's probably rubbish! People who can speak French will always pronouce it properly as they can because they'd just sound stupid otherwise.

  7. frenchy6:05 PM

    Also what do you see as brown? My mother is Spanish my father is French, My grandad is Jamaican and I was raised in the UK...suppose brown? Calling someone a Spaniard would probably be more something in South America and in Europe you would say someone from Spain is Spanish. Latin American would be South America. That's just my ideas and it seems obvious, but maybe I'm not getting it.

  8. Anonymous12:25 PM

    kevin your such a disease!

  9. There are two reasons why someone might take more effort in pronouncing French correctly. For one thing, the nasal vowels (IN-COM-pe-TENT) sound humorous to some English speakers. For another, people of similar age to the character in the film may be taking French in school from a teacher who drills them in correct pronunciation.

  10. doowangle1:01 AM

    Lmao @ somehow making somethimg that simple somehow about race. Talk about a victim complex! France is seen as probably the most cultured nation percapita in the world. Would you seriously even attempt to deny that france is heads and tails more cultured and sophisticated than mexico?

    Would you deny that the french language sounds much more pleasent and artful than spanish? How does that have ANYTHING to do with race?

    1. It's the leftie agenda, it is has thoroughly thoroughly flooded through the whole of academia. The linguists, who call themselves scientists, insist the judged beauty of every accent of every language to ever exist is "arbitrary" and therefore necessarily purely a produce of our preconceptions about the races or class of people who speak them. Nevermind that accents from "posche" metropolitian cities like New York get as much derision as the laziest south hillbilly accent (directly contradicting their predictions) or that speakers of language which have no preconceptions about a place and people can still make judgements about an accent (words clearly separated and enunciated vs sloshed together)....

  11. Kevin your what the French call les incompetent home alone