Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Any American soccer fan knows that Mexican national team players tend to be sore losers. It’s always somebody else’s fault that they lost, no team ever plays better than them. But Mexican national team goalie Osvaldo Sanchez recently took classlessness to another level.

After Mexico’s win against Peru, American reporter Luis Arroyave of the Chicago Herald Tribune went to interview Sanchez in Spanish. Arroyave is of Latin descent and, while he speaks and understands Spanish perfectly, being American he naturally speaks with an American accent. Sanchez preceded to mock Arroyave by answering his questions in an exaggerated American accent (and the surrounding reporters laughed).

What a classless guy. I really feel for Arroyave and have suffered similar experiences when I was living in Chile. Where do some people get off? Once, upon checking into a hostel in Argentina, the woman working the front desk told me my accent sounded a terrible mixture of a Chilean and American accent. Really? How many other travelers checking in that day spoke any Spanish? One? Two? And not to toot my own horn but after a year in Chile my Spanish was pretty damn good, I can guarantee I spoke better than any other person in the hostel. So excuse me if I speak with an accent.

On that very same trip I took a long bus ride and put my bags in the baggage compartment below. Upon arriving to our destination a bus terminal worker began unloading the compartment. When he unloaded my bag I asked him to pass it to me. He heard my American accent and, as he gave me my bag, said, “I need teep.” That’s right, in making fun of my accent he mispronounced the word “tip.” Everybody else, who naturally spoke very little or no English, burst out laughing. I was going to say something to the guy but then thought better of it and just walked away.

But how much of a jerk off do you have to be? If somebody respects your culture enough to take the time to learn your language (and learning a language is far from easy), you should at least show them a modicum of respect and not make fun of their accent. It’s very simple really: I don’t speak like a native because, just like the aforementioned reporter, I am NOT a native.

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