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Culture —– Gringo

by Brandi

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August 6th, 2010

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As I had promised from last week’s newsletter, today I’m going to talk about the term “Gringo”.   Some Americans (and people from other countries as well) sometimes get offended when a Spanish speaker calls them “Gringo”. This is usually because they do not really understand what the term “Gringo” actually means.

According to some of my upper division Spanish professors back when I was in college, there was a war many years ago in Mexico which involved the United States. The American soldiers were dressed in their military-green uniforms and the Mexicans no longer wanted them in Mexico. In an effort to get the soldiers to leave, some of the Mexicans who knew English began to yell at some of the Americans. They would say “Green, Go!!” to the soldiers in the “green” uniforms. The phrase caught on quickly and within a matter of time any foreigner, but especially those with lighter hair, became known as a “Gringo”.

Another theory believed by some experts, is derived from examining the meaning of the word “gringo” itself. According to the dictionary, “gringo” means “foreigner” or “gibberish”.  It is believed that the origin of “gringo” actually comes from the word “griego”, which is the Spanish word for “Greek”, and is used as a slang word to describe any foreigner.

If you are in a Spanish-speaking country and they happen to call you a “Gringo”, do not get upset or offended, they are just saying that you are a foreigner. While I was living in Latin America, I cannot tell you how many times people called me “Gringo”.  I soon became accustomed to hearing it and now consider it a privilege to be a “Gringo”.  Even though I might not sound like a “Gringo” when I speak, with dark blond hair, I definitely look like a “Gringo”!

With the complete Visual Link Spanish™ course you can also begin to learn Spanish well enough to avoid sounding like a “Gringo” when you speak – especially if you practice with the pronunciation CD-ROM. However, if you look like a foreigner, you will probably still be called a “Gringo”.

To learn more about Spanish culture, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

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