RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Fri May 12 14:02:52 UTC 2006

In a message dated 5/12/06 9:37:25 AM, mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU writes:

> could be, but if it's always feminine--not just in the (la) pizza
> case--I think that's because the "mexicana" itself would be a
> shortening of "alla mexicana", which it turn would be a shortening of
> the "alla moda mexicana".  Otherwise, we'd expect an equal number of
> "mexicano", "franceso", and such.  Which would then allow for

Not necessarily. I can think of a couple of reasons why one gender could be 
selected more frequently than the other, including dialect variation, frozen 
forms, and mere chance. It could also be that there is a general tendency to use 
the feminine form of the adjective with menu items--especially given that a 
lot of these menu items are surely made up by people who know no Spanish at 
all. In English, collocations such as "American fries," "Italian meatballs," and 
"Canadian bacon" MEAN 'potatoes fried in a way that originated in the United 
States', 'meatballs made the way Italians make them', and 'meat that Canadians 
call "bacon" but that is made from beef rather than pork'. The "mexicana/o" 
dishes have similarly wide semantic interpretations, have the apparent simple 
syntactic form Noun + Adjective, and are in many cases put together by folks who 
don't know any Spanish. Trying to find some kind of underlying syntactic 
explanation for, say, PERRO CALIENTE AMERICANA (0 Google hits, but only because, I 
would guess, nobody in California has thought of it yet) strikes me as way 
too subtle--as someone said of the prose style of Henry James: a whale in 
pursuit of a pea.

Barry's original examples ("Scallopine Mexican Woman," etc.) look to me like 
something that was generated by some kind of online translating device.

The American Dialect Society -

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