Friday, June 16, 2017

on Mexico City's queer Spanish... Escándala!



I've been wanting to write this entry for quite a while, but I needed a picture of the ad you see above and, when I decided I was going to write this, I couldn't find any of them anymore! Luckily, I finally found one at a Metrobús stop. And what is it? It's an ad for an LGBTQ website called "Escándala".

Since I came back to Mexico City I've noticed many changes – I mean, obviously, I was away for some 12 years! And one of the more interesting ones has been language. Especially queer language. Unsurprisingly, Mexico City has had a queer sociolect for a long time. It went from the most simple – changing adjectives and nouns to the gender opposite to the speaker ("estoy preocupadA" said by a male, for example) – to more strange ones, like adding a "ts" sound at the end of words ending in "r" and pronouncing that "r" as in American English (amoRTS instead of amor). But these traits could are almost even sound archaic by now.

Nowadays queer Mexico City people have gone very creative with language. In addition to that  – now less used – change of final "r" to "rts", they have embraced a Mexico City pronunciation of final "r" which, to the untrained ear, may sound kind of like a "sh". In truth, this pronunciation involves a rather rare sound that Mexico City seems to share with some varieties of Turkish: ɾ̞̊.

Let me try to explain that very strange International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol there and its sound. The sound starts like a normal tap "r" (as in "pero", not as in "perro"; that's the ɾ IPA symbol) but it only approximates the gum ridge (thereby failing to make a tap; the IPA symbol for the tongue being somewhat lower than expected is ◌̞) and it is pronounced without voice or vibration of the vocal cords (which gives it a quality similar to "sh", instead of sounding more like "zh"; the symbol for devoicing is ◌̥, which can be placed above the consonant if needed). Anyhow, like I said, for the untrained ear it simply sounds kind of "sh". You can see people representing this sound by spelling it "rs" ("amors" instead of "amor").

But they've also expanded on the use of female endings ("preocupadA" instead of "preocupadO") and nouns ("amigA" instead of "amigO"). This queer slang now even replaces many "o" sounds with "a" sounds, not worrying if that creates a non-existing word or even an ungrammatical one!

  • "¡Dias mía!" instead of "¡Dios mío!" ("Oh my god!"). And no, it doesn't turn it into "Oh my goddess!", which would be "Diosa mía!"
  • "¡Escándala!" instead of "¡Escándalo" ("What a scandal!"). I mean, "scandal" is naturally genderless, right? It's like writing "scandalette" or something akin!
  • "Vamas" instead of "Vamos" (Let's go). Again, "let's goette"? "let's goess"? 
There are tons of examples like these. And plenty of them in that website I mentioned (Escándala). Totally ungrammatical. And absolutely delightful and fun, adding a whole new layer to language expression. And should the Real Academia de la Lengua Española raise its ugly head and threaten with excommunication, you should just simply reply – accompanied by dramatic finger wagging – "No, mi ciela" (I'm afraid not, "sweetheartess").

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