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Thread: Gringo. ¿Que signífica?

 
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    Senior Member seeker50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas
    I've been called "Gringo" for most of my life. I find it offensive. I don't understand why I'm referred to by my racial characteristics when I have a name, personality, dreams, sorrows, and concerns. I sure as hell don't walk down the street saying, "Good morning, Nicaraguan! How are you doing, Costa Rican?"

    I heard it a lot when I was a kid living on the Mexican border. A lot. I hear it once in a while here in Costa Rica, and I heard it a few times in Southern Brazil where I lived. Yes, Brazilians use it too. I have to remind myself that in the US it's considered very bad manners to make constant references to someone's race, nationality, weight, use if eyeglasses, etc. In Latin America these references are quite common: el chinito de la esquina, mi gordito, la flaca, cuatrojos, etc. It's a cultural difference.

    One night years ago a Costa Rican asked my why I objected to the term. As usual, I was told that "gringo" was not intended to be offensive. I reponded by saying that I held Costa Ricans in high regard, and I had no idea why they were offended when I called one an "hijo de p***". After all, it was said with respect and affection, and without any intention to offend. He looked at me for a few moments and said, "Now I understand."

    Years ago I heard something that has stuck with me. "We don't say what we say. We say what others hear." Regardless of our intentions, if what we say is found offensive by others, maybe we should think about not using the word.
    I think it all boils down to this : it depends on the tone of voice and/or purpose we use the term "gringo". I've been living for over five years in the U.S. and, I have met people whose physical outlines would certainly become a reason for many people in my turf( Honduras) to call them "gringos". By physical outlines, I mean blue or black eyes, white skin, usually blond hair..and English as a native language. And some of the people I have met think the way you do: the term is offensive to them. But others( I would say, the vast majority of those I have met up to now) do not find it that way but funny instead. To me, it is not offensive at all as long as your purpose is not evil towards the person you allude to.

    Now, the other Spanish phrase you referred to(hijo de p***).. if either me or ANY person who uses it has not built up the right level of relationship allowing the use of such term with the other guy..other than being very offensive..I could guarantee that for all hell is going to break loose.

    Overall, I understand your point. But I wouldn't even dare to make comparisons between the use of that phrase(hijo de p***) and the use of "gringo", nor would I use that Spanish swear when addressing someone unless a very special and/or specific level of interaction has been built up between that person and me.

    To my understanding and from what I've noticed in the U.S. so far, the most common translation for that Spanish swear in English(pretty much accurate, which is "SOB") is not used in the same context(strong or not) in both languages. If I am wrong, well,.. please nicely correct me. But the Spanish swear you just referred to is quite strong.


    As for the term «gringo» and its origin(as far as I know) I couldn't agree more with Vicente's and Julio Jaubert's anwers.

    Best,
    seeker50.
    Last edited by seeker50; 06-22-2008 at 08:47 PM.

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    I hope you didn't think I was equating hijo de puta with gringo, because that wasn't my intent. What I was attempting to show is that it doesn't really matter what our intent it, it is how our words and actions affect others.

    Years ago a colleague married a Thai. Later, in Thailand, he met his wife's family. He didn't speak the language and didn't know the culture. During the meeting, he stretched his legs and in doing so the soles of his feet were pointed toward his new father-in-law. The old man went beserk. In Thai culture, his new son-in-law had showed his great disrepect. Had that been my colleague's intention? Of course not. However, that was the end result.

    I hear many Americans in Latin America refer to themselves as gringos. I don't have a problem with that. If they are comfortable with the word, that's wonderful. But as a kid I lived on the Mexican border and gringo was something I was called before someone tried to kick my ass. Maybe during and afterwards too. My major objection is the tendency for some Hispanics to make constant reference to my race. Constant. Gringo this, gringo that. What on earth does my race have to do with anything? Is it so damn hard to learn my name, to go beyond the color of my skin and eyes, to see me as a man and not a someone of a different race?

    People have told me that gringo is the same thing as saying catracho, chapín, guanaco, pinolero, tico, pana, etc. Bull. People tell me I live in Tiquicia, I can get my film developed at Ticolor, etc. I've never walked down a street in Gringolandia and asked for reprints at Gringocolor. I don't like the word. Gringo to me is much like chino. If the guy is from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore or whatever, he's chino. Yes, I've had people insist that all Japanese speak Chinese. Aren't they all chinos? Jeezzz... Give me a break. Let's look beyond skin pigmentation. Let's broaden our cultural horizons and treat others as we want to be treated.

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    Senior Member Dragona's Avatar
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    Thomas,
    I totally get what you are saying.
    And your "chino" example hit the nail on the head.
    You feel it is like a "racist" remark? Sort of like when American citizens who don't like illegal immigrants, call them all Mexicans? Or like when they say to "go back to Mexico" when a person may actually be from another country.
    I totally get it.
    But now you are going into politically correct terms. And that's also a touchy subject...hahaha....if you know what I mean.
    Whites are no longer whites...they're Irish/Italian/German/American Indian/etc.
    African Americans are no longer African Americans....they have much more mixed in....
    So do many other races.
    But I understand "where you're coming from".

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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker50
    I think it all boils down to this : it depends on the tone of voice and/or purpose we use the term "gringo". I've been living for over five years in the U.S. and, I have met people whose physical outlines would certainly become a reason for many people in my turf( Honduras) to call them "gringos". By physical outlines, I mean blue or black eyes, white skin, usually blond hair..and English as a native language. And some of the people I have met think the way you do: the term is offensive to them. But others( I would say, the vast majority of those I have met up to now) do not find it that way but funny instead. To me, it is not offensive at all as long as your purpose is not evil towards the person you allude to.

    Now, the other Spanish phrase you referred to(hijo de p***).. if either me or ANY person who uses it has not built up the right level of relationship allowing the use of such term with the other guy..other than being very offensive..I could guarantee that for all hell is going to break loose.

    Overall, I understand your point. But I wouldn't even dare to make comparisons between the use of that phrase(hijo de p***) and the use of "gringo", nor would I use that Spanish swear when addressing someone unless a very special and/or specific level of interaction has been built up between that person and me.

    To my understanding and from what I've noticed in the U.S. so far, the most common translation for that Spanish swear in English(pretty much accurate, which is "SOB") is not used in the same context(strong or not) in both languages. If I am wrong, well,.. please nicely correct me. But the Spanish swear you just referred to is quite strong.


    As for the term «gringo» and its origin(as far as I know) I couldn't agree more with Vicente's and Julio Jaubert's anwers.

    Best,
    seeker50.

    I am in complete agreement with Seeker. The vast majority of people in The U.S. do not find it offensive. I actually refer to myself as a "gringo". It is a handy way to tell people who you are. It is much easier than "Americano", "Norte Americano", "de los Estados Unidos", etc. I know when it is being used as a pejorative simply by the tone of the person's voice. It is not the word itself.

    I understand why Thomas doesn't like to be called gringo but it is totally unrealistic to expect that we are going to stop using that word or stop referring to each other by race or origin. It is basic human nature to put identifiers on people. You can call it what you want but we ALL do it. We identify people in physical ways so that others will know immediately who we are talking about. "the old guy. the black guy, the fat lady, the blond girl, the rich man, the tall guy, the bald guy, the Korean man, the Mexican, the latino, the gringo, and on and on....

    My experience is that nobody who did not know me ever called me gringo to my face unless I had already used to word to describe myself. In Costa Rica, in particular, the people there are extremely polite and generally call me "caballero" unless they know me.
    vicente

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    Dragona, as a young man, all my friends were Nicaraguan. Some members of my own family asked what part of Mexico that was. LOL.

    Switching over to the word "yanqui", I remember some Argentines concered that the word was offensive to me. (Thank them for having the "educación" to show that courtesy!) A Yankee comes from a relatively clearly defined part of the USA. Calling all American Yankees is like calling all Italians Romans, all Argentines Salteños, all Peruvians Cuzqueños, etc. It's offensive to me; it's just wrong.

    Dragona, feel free to call me what you like. Just don't call me late for dinner!



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    Quote Originally Posted by vicente
    I am in complete agreement with Seeker. The vast majority of people in The U.S. do not find it offensive.

    The vast majority of people in the U.S. has not had my life experiences.


    I actually refer to myself as a "gringo". It is a handy way to tell people who you are. It is much easier than "Americano", "Norte Americano", "de los Estados Unidos", etc. I know when it is being used as a pejorative simply by the tone of the person's voice. It is not the word itself.

    Here's part of the problem. You equate gringo with citizen of the USA, right? That's not it. It's someone white. It definitely refers to your race. If you are called that excessively, I'll bet you a dollar to your
    doughnut you're going to get tired of it.



    I understand why Thomas doesn't like to be called gringo but it is totally unrealistic to expect that we are going to stop using that word or stop referring to each other by race or origin. It is basic human nature to put identifiers on people. You can call it what you want but we ALL do it. We identify people in physical ways so that others will know immediately who we are talking about. "the old guy. the black guy, the fat lady, the blond girl, the rich man, the tall guy, the bald guy, the Korean man, the Mexican, the latino, the gringo, and on and on....

    Hang on. I'm not expecting it to stop. It will continue. But when people talk to me, I prefer that another word or, even better, my name be used. My name. Is that such a big sacrifice? I use their name. Is that such a big sacrifice?

    Do you think "the old guy" or "the black guy" may get tired of it too?

    My experience is that nobody who did not know me ever called me gringo to my face unless I had already used to word to describe myself. In Costa Rica, in particular, the people there are extremely polite and generally call me "caballero" unless they know me.
    What do they call you when they know you? LOL

    I just got back from a weekend training course in Vara Blanca. As the only non-Costa Rican in the group, I heard the word. My in-laws used it to until I asked them to stop. I hear it here, but nothing like in Mexico.

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    The vast majority of people in the U.S. has not had my life experiences.

    Well, sir, it's unfortunate that you so many problems with the Mexicans on the border or wherever else you have had bad experiences but if they had not called you gringo they would have called you something else, equally offensive.


    Here's part of the problem. You equate gringo with citizen of the USA, right? That's not it. It's someone white. It definitely refers to your race. If you are called that excessively, I'll bet you a dollar to your doughnut you're going to get tired of it.

    A white US citizen. Correct. And that is what I am. But I don't need to tell them that I am white, They can see that. I don't care that it refers to my race. I am what I am. It's no big deal. Hell, many of us celebrate our race all the time. The Irish, Germans, African Americans, Italians, Mexicans, etc., all have their "Days" and parades

    Hang on. I'm not expecting it to stop. It will continue. But when people talk to me, I prefer that another word or, even better, my name be used. My name. Is that such a big sacrifice? I use their name. Is that such a big sacrifice?

    Do you think "the old guy" or "the black guy" may get tired of it too?


    I guess I might get tired of it if nobody ever called me by my name and always referred to me as "gringo" but that's the point. It doesn't happen. The way you state your case makes it seem more like a problem of respect. Nobody constantly calls someone gringo, old guy or black guy to their face unless they are trying to offend them or get under their skin.

    It is puzzling to me that you encounter the word so often (or so it would seem) because even though I tell people I am a gringo they do not call me that. I do not hear others use the word all that much...and when they do they are referring to another white Norte Americano and always in a matter-of-fact or respectful way.

    To me this discussion is similar to the one we recently had about other offensive words. Words are just words. They are offensive only if you perceive them as offensive. I am not offended by the word itself. I consider the person's intent.

    Seeker said it. If we are friends you can call me an old s.o.b. or a bastard and I will know you don't intend to offend me. If I don't know you, you can call me "amigo" with a sneer or the wrong tone of voice and I will know you are trying to insult me.




    What do they call you when they know you? LOL

    They call me Vicente.

    Saludos
    vicente

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    I think it is important to recognize that the word can have a lot of different meanings and it is interpreted differently by every person. I understand what you mean about "identifiers" Vicente, we all do it, either verbally or simply internally, though I think that it bears a different meaning for everyone and it is just as easy to ask a person's name, so is it really necessary?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarab
    I think it is important to recognize that the word can have a lot of different meanings and it is interpreted differently by every person. I understand what you mean about "identifiers" Vicente, we all do it, either verbally or simply internally, though I think that it bears a different meaning for everyone and it is just as easy to ask a person's name, so is it really necessary?

    Hi sarab

    Of course I agree with you and Thomas that a person has the right to expect to be addressed by his or her name and not be called a word that they dislike, especially after they have let it be known that they don't like the word. That's just simple courtesy.
    vicente

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    In Guatemala, a Gringo is anyone who is white from North America or Europe. It's not ment to be offensive only a name that is given to white people. Some people who are white in Guate are called gringo looking!

    One thing thats always bothered me. The name American, I'm American and no I wasn't born in the US. But I was born in the American continent. What do you call a person born in Europe...a European. So why do people from the states think they are the only ones who are Americans?
    If anything the correct name would be united statetian or something similar. In Guatemala we don't say Americano...we say estaunidence!....just thought of and wanted to add to my comment....later...

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