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Why Do Mexicans-Americans Speak English with an Accent?
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Dear Mexican: I’m listening to a podcast on “Gravy.” The segment is Bluegrass tacos. You were interviewed and a few statements bothered me. “The US can take half of Mexico. They can make us peons, force us to move up North.” Is this a common shared view of America(ns) in your community? If so, very disappointing that in 2017, you would express this bias/prejudice against this amazing country. How were you forced to move North? Do you recognize/appreciate all the opportunities that this country has given you and other Mexicans that have came here? Would like to know your views. My initial opinion of you is that you are holding onto the “we are an oppressed people, and can’t believe what America has done to us.” There is always a “great” country to the South that offers so much more without the oppression that has openings for residency. Let me know what you think.

Ticked Off in Tulsa

Dear Gabacho: You know what I think? You’re a pendejo. The podcast is called Gravy, and it’s an extension of the James Beard-winning food journal, for which I write a column called “Good Ol’ Chico” where write about the Latino South. And what you call “bias/prejudice” are straight-up facts. The United States did steal half of Mexico, but you don’t have to take my word—just ask Ulysses S. Grant, who said that the Mexican-American War was “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” I don’t have to “hold on” to the idea that Mexicans are oppressed—we know it’s true every time whiny gabachos like yourself insist that we love this country just like you. The cool thing, though, is that we don’t let pendejos like you get in the way of creating a better America. Finally ever heard of a little chingadera called NAFTA—you know, the one thing Donald Trump gets right? It not only stole jobs from American workers, it upended Mexico’s economy, forcing millions of people to el Norte. And, yes, they were forced—just like the Irish were forced to leave Eire due to the brutal British, or the Jews who fled pogroms, or the Okies who got out of the Dust Bowl for a better chance at life. My, how quickly Oklahomans forget their own history—sad that a Mexican has to teach you about your own people, but that happens only in America.


I always noticed that some second-generation, even third-generation Mexican-Americans speak English with an accent. I understand that English might not be their first language. But why do some Americans like Cheech Marin or Danny Trejo, who’ve been here for more generations, still have an accent, and a first-generation wab like me has been told I speak English like a white person, whatever that means?

Pocho Pero Paisa


Dear Pocho: Trejo and Cheech have an accent the way a mick in Southie has an accent, or the way characters on Fargo speak in their own unique way. It’s regional American English—in their case, Chicano English borne by generations of assimilation in the Southwest. Us children of modern-day Mexicans sometimes get that accent, sometimes don’t, because we learn English as a second language, not as our primary one. The most prominent practitioner of Chicano English is George Lopez, who once tried to make this column into a television show, then let the option lapse. Hey, George: let’s take more meetings, you know?


Ask the Mexican at [email protected], be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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  1. BradinIN says:

    This is the dumbest this webzine has to offer. What low level bs.

  2. every gus column ever:
    heh, white penpalo, you are merde, and your country is ca ca, and we just want to fuck your woman and take all your shit, so just shut up and take it, gazpacho, ’cause we are like the greatest peoples ever, and you are poop-on-a-stick ! (sprinkle in some upside down exclamation points for no good reason)
    geez, you aren’t a revolutionary, you’re just a chauvinist, selfish shithead, plain and simple…
    last column of yours i bother ‘reading’ (as if there is any substance worth reading), you are just a bitter sack of bile with nothing but your hate to define yourself… not even worth it as a sick ‘joke’, of sorts… whatever puts beans in your piehole, huh, gus ? ? ?
    (by the way, i am all for ‘hate’, but yours is a twisted, perverted, self-indulgent hate of no consequence to society…)

    • Replies: @flayotters
  3. “…George Lopez, who once tried to make this column into a television show, then let the option lapse.

    I think Lopez is a horse’s ass, but even he could see that Gus’ column isn’t funny, and would be a dud as TV show.

    • Replies: @NoseytheDuke
  4. Sam McGowan says: • Website

    Actually, many Mexican-Americans speak English without an accent. I was surprised when I went in the military and met men from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona who spoke English the same as any other American. Some even have Southern accents. I suspect the accents by people like Cheech are affected.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  5. @Sam McGowan

    “Some even have Southern accents. I suspect the accents by people like Cheech are affected.”

    I tend to agree. I know this “Pocha” “drag em baby” (came to States at about age three, 35 y/0 now) that speaks English with a very peculiar (to about two rural NC counties) Southern drawl. (can still speak Mexican Spanish pretty well) You could put her on the haystack for a skit on Hee Haw with a little make up and hairdresser work. The “affecteds” (majority I suspect) you speak of are largely influenced by pata raja padres, S. Califas Valley Girl/low riderism, Gloria Estefan, J. Lo, Cheech Marin, Jorge Ramos ad nauseam.

    But all that said, Gus and his column are as Art Guerilla has characterized.

  6. “The United States did steal half of Mexico”

    The half mexico didn’t want, the half that Mexico would not police, that half that no one really lived in, the half that the Spanish stole ….and by extension Mexico……from the natives….how fucking long is this childish “stolen land” meme going to go on? The USA could have taken all of fucking Mexico if we wanted.

    Do you think you could ever stop hating on the USA? Probably not because then what would you do for a living.

  7. @Sgt. Joe Friday

    Perhaps the opening to the show could show him walking the short walk from the US side at Chula Vista to the Mexican side in Tijuana with a facial close-up half-way across when the first full hit of the raw sewerage stench hits. I’ve always considered it the olfactory equivalent of a “Welcome to Mexico” sign.

  8. Mexico only held what is now the American southwest for about seventeen years. Before that the Spanish held it for a couple of centuries, and before that it had been inhabited for thousands of years by American Indian tribes. During the Mexican occupation, hardly any Mexicans actually lived in the region, and they were greatly outnumbered by the Amerind tribes which neither recognized nor accepted the authority of the Mexican government. The United States, however, having held the region for more than 160 years now, populated the land with its citizens, built infrastructure, and created a prosperous land where there had once been mostly desert and wilderness.

    That land never really belonged to Mexico. Quit accusing us of stealing it. It was never yours in the first place.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @The Plutonium Kid

    That land never really belonged to Mexico. Quit accusing us of stealing it. It was never yours in the first place.

    Who cares what Mexicans think? It’s ours now.

  10. cici says:

    why do southerners still speak with a “southern accent”…..they lost the civil war didn’t they…how many years ago?…..oh, and why do new englanders do that nasal thing?… sounds so unamerican to those of us whom speak like real americans!

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