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Clarity of the Spanish Language



     Bruno Lopez, a Knight Fellow from Mexico, questions my eulogy of the clarity of the Spanish language. He writes:
     "I am not that sure about the general "clarity" of Spanish that you mentioned. I've covered news in all of Central America, Cuba and in my country Mexico and many times - even in my own nation - I have come across people whose Spanish I cannot fully understand or to whom I cannot make myself understood. Its embarrassing to me. Once I speak slowly, or they do they same we can more or less understand each other, or they might even tune into the "Chilango" Spanish, the way Mexicans from the capital city speak, and then we can more or less move along. Its like launching a shared protocol derived from the fact that this Mexico City Spanish is part of a dominant culture spread by the soaps and the other programs produced by Televisa, Mexico's giant television network which has been accused in Guatemala and Colombia of being "culturally imperialistic".
     My comment: I know about "lunfardo", the language of the port area of Buenos Aires, but "chilango"? It is not in the dictionary of the Spaniush Academy, the huge four-volume dictionary of Corominas, or the big Larousse. Bruno Lopez must enlighten us. It is true that in my travels throughout Latin America, I have dealt mostly with intellectuals, business people, etc, whereas Bruno has probably dealt also with people who spoke native languages too. The lowland Spanish of places like Cuba and Venezuela is slovenly. When I was in the Canary Islands I found where their pronunciation came from. However, listening to TV from many countries, I have been struck by the clarity with which simple people speak Spanish.
     As for the imperialism of Televisa, that is a bigger story than just language. I want to talk to Bruno Lopez about it.

Ronald Hilton - 02/14/99


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