Culture

When Your First Language Is Spanish, But English Has Taken Over Your Life

Is Spanish your first language? Maybe, like so many of us, you started off speaking exclusively Spanish, picking up English later on at school, and then… FORGOT IT ALL. But don’t feel alone in this, fellow pochos / gringozados.

It’s a pretty common issue, so let’s vent about it together:

1. You end up doing a lot of smiling and nodding.

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Credit: Logo

? I have no idea what’s going on. ?

2. You miss out on precious, precious chisme.

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Credit: Televisa

This one hurts the most. Tía Concha did WHAT with WHOM back in the day? 

3. Speaking to a relative on the phone becomes an awkward, horrifying nightmare.

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Credit: Paramount Pictures

“Habla con tu tía.”

NoooOoOoOoooooOoOooooooo…

4. Your older relatives judge you…

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Credit: CW

?

5. …And your younger relatives bond with you more closely.

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Because chances are pretty good that you’re all in the same boat now (the HMS Niños Americanizados).

6. You basically only remember old nursery rhymes, kids’ songs and prayers.

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“Angel de mi sana sana ranita, dulce compania…”

7. You hear a lot about how you’re so “shy” now.

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But, really, you’re just not sure how to say what you want to say!

8. Although Spanish definitely comes more easily when you’re mad or talking to a pet/baby.

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Credit: YouTube / Pri-Fla-E-Marcelinha Dos Santos Iwama

Don’t ask me why these things are true; they just are.

9. You mostly speak Spanish by what “sounds” right…

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Because, for you, Spanish isn’t about grammar rules, it’s just about a feeling.

10. …Which can get hella confusing.

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Estoy bueno. I mean, estoy bien. Soy bien. Both?

11. …And also leads to you avoiding verbs like the plague.

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Don’t worry: You’re not the only one feeling the pain of conjugation.

12. Sometimes, you even mix languages up.

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Très bueno indeed.

13. Accents will be the death of you.

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Sure, you can understand perfect “newscaster Spanish,” but throw in a fast-talking Cuban or an Argentine swapping “ll’s” for “jjjjhhhjggg’s” and you’re @#$%ed.

14. And you become self-conscious about your own accent when speaking Spanish.

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It used to be so perfect! Let’s just blame television for this. Deal? Deal.

15. Children’s movies with subtitles become a lifesaver.

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What better way to relearn the Spanish you’ve woefully forgotten than by listening to “The Circle of Life” in español.

16. You sometimes feel like a huge @#$%ing disappointment.

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You can’t help it. You wish you were better at this!

17. But you know this doesn’t define you.

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And you’re still completely, perfectly Latino, no matter what level of Spanish (or Portuguese, lest we forget our Brazilian cousins) you speak. <3


READ: 5 Beautifully Perverse Responses To Use When Someone Makes You Speak Spanish

So, tell us. How’s your Spanish these days? 

Language Learning App Duolingo Has Been Teaching Phrases Like ‘He has to be detained right now’ In Spanish

Things That Matter

Language Learning App Duolingo Has Been Teaching Phrases Like ‘He has to be detained right now’ In Spanish

Mitú / Unsplash

It seems like everyday we uncover stories of discrimination and racism towards communities of color. This week the story stems from the most unthinkable source. One of the world’s most popular language-learning apps, Duolingo, served up two very problematic sentences to a user. His girlfriend took to Twitter to let everyone know.

Needless to say that Twitter was not having it.

Two xenophobic statements popped up on a user’s language-learning app and this is why they’re hurtful.

The fact that sentences like: “Are they legal?” and “He has to be detained right now.” can appear on Duolingo has us floored. They may not be explicitly referring to immigration issues, but the choice of words used is loaded with anti-immigration rhetoric. The word “illegal” carries major stigma in a time of pervasive and systematic civil rights violations against immigrants in the United States. Not to mention the weight that a phrase like “He has to be detained right now” carries in a country where at least 2,654 migrant children – and perhaps thousands more – were taken from their parents and held in government custody while their parents were criminally prosecuted for crossing the border unlawfully.

Duolingo was quick to respond to the backlash on Twitter, arguing that the sentence “Are they legal?” did not refer to people but rather questioned the legality of objects namely “firearms.”

In Spanish, “ellos” refers to people, the sentence is clearly about humans.

However, as several Spanish-speaking users noted on the social platform, the structure of the sentence in Spanish, “¿Son ellos legales?”, leaves no room for doubt on whether or not it’s referring to things as opposed to people. If we go back to Spanish grammar 101, Duolingo should know that the use of the plural personal pronoun “ellos” (they) instead of the demonstratives: “eso/esas” or “aquello” (those or that), to point to things, like guns or drugs, make it clear that this sentence is questioning the legality of a human subject. In simpler words, in Spanish “ellos”: refers to people, “esos” to things.

As one twitter user pointed out, “the exercise is not only grammatically incorrect, it leaves it open to a dangerous interpretation.”

Duolingo crowdsources its content from volunteers, and no scarcely anybody moderates what makes it onto the app.

What’s more, it looks like Duolingo’s been slipping on their content for a while now. According to an article published last year on the apps crowdsourcing’s strategy; “The startup has built one of the world’s most popular language-learning apps while only hiring a handful of translators.” Each day the platform serves up millions of sentences, “almost all of them created by its 300 or so volunteers.”

According to Quartz, “more than half” of Duolingo’s employees work in engineering, while “just three people manage the volunteer community”. The app makes this system work by appointing “volunteer moderators”, who apply through the website to oversee content in each language. The company claims that volunteers “are vetted for language skills, and then trained on subjects from pedagogy to guidance dealing with gender, diversity, and cultural sensitivity issues.”

As recent stories of neglectful treatment of migrants, civil rights violations, discriminatory behavior and racial profiling, have become the norm in the media—result of an anti-immigration administration—it’s troubling that this intolerant rhetoric is now visible in apps that are meant for ‘educational’ purposes and that claim to have ‘guidance on diversity and cultural sensitivity issues’.

It’s no coincidence that ever since Donald Trump became President of the United States, there has been a spike in hate speech and crime—and the numbers only continue to climb. A survey of Mexicans recently deported from the United States found that the number of people who reported experiencing verbal abuse or physical assault during their time in the U.S. increased by 47% between 2016 and 2017.

Founder of Duolingo, Luis von Ahn, a Guatemalan immigrant himself, chimed in to the conversation on Twitter, commenting that the two statements “didn’t appear next to eachother” and “were taken out of context”. He assured users that the statements were removed from the app to “avoid confusion”.

If no one is policing the sentences that go up on Duolingo, are children safe to use the app?

But what context would ever make those two sentences necessary in an educational app? They are grammatically incorrect and hurtful. No human is ever illegal. The very object of hate speech is to deprive people of the assurance that society regards them as people of equal dignity. Why is this instance of ‘indirect’ hate speech so important? Precisely because the public conception of immigrants and communities of color, specifically Latinx communities, is constantly under fire, and further feeds into a climate of fear.

As one twitter user put it, it makes you think twice before letting your 8th grader use the app to learn a new language. If xenophobic statements like these can pop up at any time, with no real policing of incorrect, racist or straight-up inappropriate content, then what’s the point of Duolingo even having a ‘content policy’ at all? As a Guatemalan, von Ahn should do better.

A Twitter User Shared His Cousin’s ‘Rebelde’-Themed Going Away Party And Latinos Were Here For It

Culture

A Twitter User Shared His Cousin’s ‘Rebelde’-Themed Going Away Party And Latinos Were Here For It

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the teen telenovelaRebelde” first aired on Televisa. At the time, who would have thought that the Mexican soap opera would become an international sensation? As a refresher, “Rebelde” was a Spanish-language soap that ran from 2004-2006 for three seasons. The story focused on Elite Way School, a prestigious Mexico City prep school. The plot revolved around a group of students trying to form a pop band (RBD). At the time, Rebelde” was Touted as “Beverly Hills: 90210” with songs.  The show was so successful that it had teens wearing loose dress-ties and short plaid skirts all across Latinidad. “Rebelde” paved the way for “Gossip Girl” and “Pretty Little Liars”, and the legacy definitely lives on. 

On Sunday, Twitter user @EseGueyBeto revealed that his cousin threw a “Rebelde”-themed going away party, proving that the dearly-departed teen soap is still very much a part of the zeitgeist.

@EseGueyBeto posted a video of the “Rebelde”-themed party, and it did not disappoint. The 16-second video shows a group of people by a pool dressed up in very authentic-looking Elite Way School uniforms. The party-goers wear maroon blazers, unbuttoned dress shirts, loosened dress ties, and skirts short enough to shock your abuela. “Dawg my cousin from Mexico had a going away Rebelde party,” @EseGueyBeto captioned his Tweet.  “I just know Mexican Twitter is here for this”. And boy, was he right. 

@EseGueyBeto followed up his Tweet with another video of the party-goers group singing “Sálvame” while waving sparklers in the air. “The answer is yes,” @EseGueyBeto said. “They did play sálvame at the end of the night”. As he also eloquently put it, everyone was ready to create a “whole ass fire hazard” in order to “be on their feels for sálvame”. Can we blame them? That definitely looks like a party we would have loved to be invited to. 

Currently, @EseGueyBeto’s tweet has racked up over 23,000 retweets and almost 80,000 likes.

Latinos flocked to the Tweet to express their admiration for the theme party. One glance at the thread shows that the video has sparked quite a few people’s imaginations — people were planning on stealing the idea for everything from quinceañera themes to Halloween costumes. The tweet reignited peoples’ interest in the rousing discography of RBD and brought a much-need dose of nostalgia to Latinos who came of age in the early 2000s. 

On @EseGueyBeto’s Twitter thread, “Rebelde” fans from all over the world are coming together to reminisce about the good-old-days, sharing their memories from 2004 and revealing how much they loved the show in their youth. It seems that the great uniter amongst Latinx countries is actually the love for “Rebelde” (the Spanish language is a close second). 

The Twitter thread seemed to reanimate RBD’s dormant fandom, and people responded to the Tweet with unparalleled enthusiasm. 

It seems that the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is ultimately true. We don’t know if the desire to attend a “Rebelde”-themed party would’ve been as strong among Latinxs back in the early 2000s, but it seems as if the passage of time has made the show a hot commodity. Back in the day, many Latinxs thought of “Rebelde” as a silly telenovela without much substance. Now, people idolize the show because it reminds them of simpler times.

This Latino made it clear that @EseGueyBeto’s tweet inspired him to throw his own party.

We have a feeling that we’re going to be seeing a lot more “Rebelde”-themed parties on the internet from now on. 

This Latina was filled with Mexican Pride at seeing a bunch of people dressed in Elite Way school uniforms.

If this doesn’t make you proud of your heritage, we don’t know what would.

This Latina was impressed by the realism of the party-goers’ outfits.

Back in the day, that forehead star was the epitome of cool. Now, our feelings are a little bit more mixed on that particular fashion statement.

This Latina explained that “Rebelde”-love was not just reserved for Mexicans.

Even though “Rebelde” was actually a remake of an Argentinian show for Mexican audiences, its appeal was widespread across Latinidad. And let’s be honest: soapy teen dramas are a universal guilty pleasure. 

As for us, we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on social media for the inevitable “Rebelde”-themed parties that will be sweeping the nation in the next coming months. Here’s to hoping that we’ll be attending some of our own!