nucular and Latino

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 14 07:49:30 UTC 2001

At 8:19 AM -0500 11/14/01, Michael Newman wrote:
>Another odd thing with Latino/Latina is that whereas we have
>increasingly tended to avoid different sex reference forms such as
>Scotsman/Scotswoman and special female forms such as hostess,
>poetess, and especially Jewess and Negress, here we are  referring to
Not quite the same, given that -o and -a are parallel, so that the
feminine (female-referring) form is not morphologically marked in
Spanish the way -ess forms are in English.  (Yes, I'm aware that a
mixed group of people of Hispanic origin would be Latinos and not
Latinas, or that when used as an adjective it's "Latino" rather than
"Latina" (culture, food, etc.), and that the masculine is thus
semantically unmarked.  But morphologically, the two are equal.

As for the SNL satire Arnold recalls,
>i'm trying to remember the details of a Saturday Night Live (i think
>it was) sketch in which jimmy smits played a new hispanic american
>member of a law firm (i think it was), and the other guys in the
>office, all clearly monolingual english speakers, shifted to
>spanishoid pronunciations for ethnically marked words, starting with
>the smits character's name and working through food items they might
>have for lunch (i have a recollection of renditions of "burrito" with
>long, high-intensity trilled [r], but this might be an invention of
>mine), to the increasing bafflement, and smoldering anger, of the
>smits character.  i don't recall how the sketch ended.

--this is a direct reference to the ongoing NBC weekly show L.A. Law
that made Jimmy Smits famous.  He played a young Chicano lawyer
Victor Sifuentes, and he was particularly adept at the code-switching
device we've been discussing--switching from a totally assimilated
California English to a totally native Hispanic/Latino pronunciation
for his own name or that of other Hispanics/Latin{o/a}s he
encountered.  (His Chicano/East L.A. barrio background was a
recurrent theme.)  On the actual show, however, as opposed to the SNL
take-off, none of Victor's colleagues at the firm (McKenzie,
Brackman, Van Owen & Kuzack, with various permutations during the
life of the show) made any fervent attempt at the Spanishoid
pronunciation, not even Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey) when she was
Victor's lover.


More information about the Ads-l mailing list