Why are you speaking to me in Spanish?
I live in the United States of America. I’m born and raised here. I’m naturally bilingual and have studied and spoken other languages as well.
But, I’m living in Florida. Sometimes it’s like living in a third world Latin American country. I go into a lot of stores or businesses and I’m greeted or approached in Spanish. Why?
Yes, I look somewhat Hispanic and have no shame or embarrassment about my ethnicity. But I do feel insulted when at first sight the presumption is that I probably don’t speak the language of the U.S., or that I haven’t learned it yet. They, other Hispanics, look at you, and figure that since your’re probably a Hispanic you’re also probably uneducated, unlike them of course, who work a great $7.00 an hour job at the quickie mart.
Not too long ago I was t the mall. As I passed by the Japanese Teriyaki joint in the food court one of the Asian dudes looks at my wife and I and goes “Pollo, Pollo, delicioso!” I stop, look at him and say “Sumimasen, Nihongoga deskimaska?” He looked perplexed, I could tell he probably wasn’t Japanese but Korean. But I say again, “Ano, Nihongo ga wakarimaska? at which his faced changed to embarrassment cause he probably doesn’t speak any Asian language. He fell silent looking around and away, then I said to him “Why are you Speaking to me in Spanish? Dude you work for a Japanese joint and you don’t speak Japanese, and you presume I don’t speak English here in America, that’s weird!” Several people in line smiled at the whole interaction.
If you address someone in English, and then they signal that they don’t understand, and you speak their language then ok, switch languages to help or complete the transaction. But don’t profile anyone as being less intelligent than you by being condescending.
I don’t like it. It’s not like it’s done in love. It reduces the relationship of merchant/customer to one of familiarity. So they don’t have to deal with you respectfully and professionally, after all, you’re a Hispanic! We’re like “familia!”
I resent not being given the professional and respectful courtesy given to a White person, a Black person, or to an Asian or Middle Eastern individual. We’re not “familia.” I didn’t see white people at the mall being yelled to “Pollo, Pollo…” Why, because it would be insulting.
In a Spanish country it’d be OK to presume everyone around spoke Spanish.
However, it is ignorant to presume it here, and that act of ignorance perpetuates the reason to address potential Hispanics in Spanish, as if they are also ignorant and might not know the language.
Why is this happening? Have Floridian Hispanics demonstrated they can’t learn to speak English so much for so long that they have invoked this condescension? Is their expectation of each other so low that they won’t chance blowing up each other’s little Latino brain with English?
Floridian Hispanics, it’s your fault.
I’m an American. I wasn’t born and raised in Puerto Rico, or Peru, or the Dominican Republic. My English and Spanish are exceptionally fluent and I’m more literate than most. My Japanese language skill is middling but I’ve even been complimented on that. My French is passable, and my American Sign Language has helped out often.
I may take up Portuguese this week! Hmm, I do look a little Portuguese too…