LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||06/SET/2005 12:08 PM|
Sara, you words remind me of something I read years ago. "We don't say what we say, we say what people hear us say."
Here in Brazil I don't hear "gringo" very often. It is very common, however, in Mexico and Central America. I never liked the word. It's still like hearing, "I know you. You're a gringo, and all gringos are alike. I call you 'gringo' to remind you that you don't belong, that you're not welcome." Bear in mind that such nicknames are common in Spanish, but rare and often insulting in English. Americans normally do not call another person such names unless they are trying to insult.
I recall a Costa Rican years ago repeatedly calling me "gringo". I objected, and he gave me the usual speach of how the name was not being used as an insult. I said I understood, and I called him an "hijo de puta". I explained that I called only my closest friends by this name, that it was said with great respect and affection, and that it was certainly not said to offend or insult. He stared at me for a moment and replied, "I understand." He never referred to me again by my race or nationality. Oh, and I never called him that name again. Not even great respect and affection, and certainly not with any intention to offend or insult.
If people don't want to be called "neguinho" or "gordo" or "skinny" or "cripple" or "Redskin" or gringo", let's call them by names they prefer. What is the problem? It's a matter of respect, of courtesy, of good manners.
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