El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Posts Tagged ‘English

Don’t Hate Me ’cause I’m American (if you must hate me hate me because I am me)

with 3 comments

A few years ago I cut an article out of The News, the Mexico City English language daily newspaper. I like The News, it disappeared for awhile and is now back in a little different style. It must have been a slow news day back then because they published the article under the heading SOUNDOFF, which translates, roughly, to SHOOTYOURMOUTHOFF. The article was written by an American student studying in Canada. It has the headline; “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m American” I added the subtitle because I’m a smart arse. You could tell he was a college student because he actually included the sentence: “Yet I am constantly castigated by your presumptuous and quotidian fulmination.”  Man, dey sure must talk funny up dere in Canada, ay?

After securely saving this article for more than four years, I recently found it folded up and tucked into a pocket in an old notebook. I’d like to share it with you today for several reasons, not the least of which is that I assume the author has finished college by now and has a real job somewhere reading dictionaries. I should add the disclaimer that I don’t have anything against this guy because he is an American. Although technically, Canadians, Mexicans and even Hugo Chavez may be considered Americans, too, since they all live in the Western Hemisphere which is composed of the continents referred to as “the Americas”. But I don’t want to quibble (I have been waiting for the opportunity to use the word “quibble” ever since I started reading the dictionary!) The New York Times style book claims that the terms “American”, “America” and the “United States” refer, in general usage, to the “United States of America”. I know that some ultra-nationalist Mexicans don’t like to hear that because their country is officially called “The United States of Mexico” (but trust me, no one gets the two nations confused) and, surprisingly, at least to me, there was, at one time, an entity called the “United States of Central America”. (But I think that last one only existed for about 30 minutes, before there were several revolutions, probably precipitated by those damn Canadians.)

The author claims to be “a rather identifiable American” although in his picture he kind of looks like a French guy and he has a very French name, let’s just call him “J. P.”. He was attending classes at a University in western Canada, which may explain why Canucks “hated” him so much–the only people Canadians “hate” more than Americans are the French. It’s like a double whammy, a French guy from the U.S! But I digress….

So I am just going to present the original article in its entirety (really, I should say, as it was originally published in The News, as I have to presume it was edited somewhat, at least I hope it was. I doubt that   J. P.  will ever see this but if he does he is welcome to offer any additional material he may feel is pertinent). The text of the article will be in red, since, for all I know, the Canadians may be Communist sympathizers, too.  Of course I reserve the right to add any smart arse comments of my own, (in black), otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

Read the rest of this entry »

The “Harming-them All” School of English

leave a comment »

Another name-brand franchise patito. True-to-form, this one’s tucked into a junky-looking building on a side street across from a shopping center parking lot. Its cheap, back-lit sign is the only light on the block. The narrow one-way street in front serves mainly as a short-cut for harried commuters trying to skirt the afternoon traffic that piles up across el centro. https://i2.wp.com/katiejeffreys.com/ducky/ducky30.jpg

Yes, more than just another crummy, store-front patito, “Harming-them All” really lives up to its pseudonym. Of course the foundation of any patito is built on reams of useless, outrageously over-priced material. This place doesn’t even bother to have their crap printed anymore–it’s all just photo-copied (of course it is still over-priced).

“Harming-them All” is a real triple-threat: They throw poorly-prepared (and even more poorly-paid) “teachers” into classes of up to 30 students and then make certain that any student that can pay is passed up to the next level–whether or not they actually learned anything. The idea is that they don’t want the students to learn too much so they can keep them hanging on and hook them into the full course.

It works something like this: 18 levels–18 months. The students have to buy new material at different levels throughout the course. You can be bi-lingual in one and a half years. And if you’re not they will just “tweak” your test scores and present you with a certificate of completion that is pretty much worthless anyway. “Thank-you very much for giving us your hard-earned cash, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by El Fomentador

September 3, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Simplified Spanglish; Donde es Doktoro Esperanto?

with 7 comments

Hey, how about that Esperanto? And no, I’m not talking about a first baseman from the Dodgers, or the latest coffee concoction from Starbucks (although it sounds like it might taste good), but that attempt at creating an international language, by Pole Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof (1859-1917). He first published his work in 1887 using the pseudonym “Doktoro Esperanto” (‘Doctor Hopeful’). “Doktoro Esperanto”, what a great pen name, sounds kind of like some guy that el Santo el Emascarado del Plata might run into in the lucha libre ring.                                                           https://i0.wp.com/curiousexpeditions.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/639229040_19d841fb0a.jpg

Zamenhof began working on his idea as a teenager. Living in eastern Europe he had  variety in his language background. Russian was used in his home. Yiddish, Polish and Hebrew were used in the community. French, German, English, Greek and Latin were taught in the schools.

In his later life he proposed a world religion. He called it Homaranismo, which means “member of the human race”. This guy was full of good intentions, as his religion was predicated on peace, tolerance, and the unity of peoples. Not a bad place to start!
Read the rest of this entry »