Eugene Weekly : ¡Ask A Mexican! : 4.24.08



Dear Readers: The paperback version of my book is out in stores now, cheap enough so that even a Guatemalan can afford it. Buy, por favor! Now, on to the preguntas…


Dear Mexican: Lately, I’ve been hearing how punks and metalheads in Mexico are trying to beat up emos because it’s been said emos makes Mexican culture look bad. As a metalhead, I support this because I don’t see the point in being emo since they are very sensitive and guys dress like girls, but I still believe everyone has the right to be whatever they decide to be, no matter how bad it seems to people. What’s your perspective on this issue — do you think it’s a good thing or it is a bad thing? And do you agree that the emo trend is a poison to the Mexican culture?

Mosh ‘Til You Die


Dear Wab: The emo riots that have spread across Mexico for the past month have been a source of joy and frustration for the Mexican. On one mano — as I told Wired reporter Alexis Madrigal for his fine story on the madness — I’m loving the clusterfuck that feuding Mexican emos, metaleros, punketos and other modern types presents to the gabacho mind, which still largely thinks Mexico is one giant, continent-spanning sombrero. I personally don’t like emo, but not because I think it’s somehow not “Mexican” — last I checked, the punk and metal movements that spawned the movimiento anti-emo didn’t originate south of the border, either. And those pendejos going after wabs in Dashboard Confessional T-shirts embody the worst tendencies of the Mexican character: intolerant of anything it doesn’t consider “Mexican,” preferring to bully weaklings instead of facing the big niños, and hopelessly outdated. Oigan, anti-emo folks: Hating emos is so 1998. Porque no you guys go after a true Mexican plague — like, say, your immigrant-producing economy?


Dear Readers: The paperback edition of ¡Ask a Mexican! (releasted on April 22) differs from the hardcover that appeared last May in that it contains an extra chapter of new preguntas and a new cover. Double the fun at nearly half the cost—why don’t you have a copy in your hands?


Why is it that Mexicans have the impulse to preface any English word that begins with the letter S with the letter E? Estupid, espeaker, esit and esleep, espeak eslowly — what’s the deal?

Johnny Chingas


Dear Wab: Linguistics at trabajo, amigo: it’s a form of prothesis, the placing of a vowel at the front of a word. In the case de eSpanish, plopping an e before any English word estarting with an s is a legacy of the language’s long-ago esplit with Latin, which esaw medieval eSpaniards adding a prothetic e to Latin loan words that began with an s-led consonant cluster: schola (school) turned to escuela, for instance, or stella (star) to estrella. When Mexicans espeak English, they naturally apply their native tongue’s linguistic rule to the esecond language. Gabachos can laugh all they want at the quirk, but let he who casts the first estone try to pronounce “¿Hablas japonés en México con tu xoloitzcuintli lleno, gitano zorrero?” correctly without sounding like a pendejo.


PS: Seriously, gentle readers: buy my book! I need to comprar a new identity!



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Gustavo Arellano is an investigative reporter on staff at the OC Weekly in Orange County, California. His “¡Ask a Mexican!” column began in 2004 and today is syndicated in 32 publications nationwide. He is also the author of a book by the same name. An extensive interview with Arellano can be found in the EW archives online for Nov. 29, 2007. Arellano can be contacted at


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