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Are Latin Americans Hypocritical for Not Being Language Inclusive?

Published December 23, 2021 in Personal Stories & Opinions - 0 Comments

The other day, I got talking with another American expat in Mexico.

Some random chick I never met before who was at some social event I went to.

These days, I’m trying to go out more to meet more strangers since I usually stick to hanging out with people I already know or hooking up with strangers on Tinder.

But why not make a new friend or so?

So I went to this event that was basically one of those “have a drink and practice a foreign language” event.

When, in reality, little practicing of foreign languages happens except for the few Latin Americans who show up who wish to practice their English.

Thankfully for them, enough beer even makes the new gringo who is more insistent on “practicing Spanish” to drop it and go back to English.

Until he wants to impress a young lady and call her mami after a few shots of vodka. Then he practices his Spanish again!

In all seriousness, there was this older American chick named Andrea that I got talking with.

She had been in Mexico for a few odd months and was basically just checking out the country before deciding to retire here or not.

And, as we know, some gringos who come to Latin America will defend everything about it to death and others will complain about everything.

Well, there’s always room for constructive criticism and there’s a time to pushback against unreasonable complaints.

And, during the night, there came a point where we got talking and she wanted to pick my brain I guess about life here when she realized the amount of time I’ve spent in the country already.

From what I could tell, it seemed like a lot of the folks at this event (outside of the organizers) were new to Mexico.

And, as you can guess, there’s always that extra curiosity by the nearly retired person when they realize how young I am and how much time I’ve been here.

The usual questions of how did you move so young and other related questions.

But she didn’t just have questions but also had her own initial observations about life in Mexico.

Some positive and others negative.

One of the negative ones that I found particularly odd though – and I’m no stranger to giving “constructive criticism – is this complaint of hers about how “hypocritical” the locals are when it comes to language inclusivity.

What does she mean?

The Hypocritical Latin Americas

 The basics of her complaint was how, in the US, we are so inclusive of other languages when it comes to packaging and marketing.

Where she mentioned how stores and restaurants will have their packaging in English, French and Spanish while so many things down here are not even in English.

But, on top of that, she felt it was annoying how some theoretical locals that she has met have complained about how “Americans don’t learn Spanish when living in Mexico.”

Now, to be fair, I agree and disagree with that statement that “we don’t learn Spanish.”

The US is the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world and even plenty of non-Latino folks back home learn Spanish at least to get through high school and college graduation requirements.

Sure, their Spanish might not be very effective outside of asking the waitress about where the bathroom is but it also largely depends on the area they grew up in.

An American (Latino or not) who lives in Florida is more likely to retain plenty of Spanish versus an American in small town Iowa.

Even though Latin American influence can be seen in small town Iowa also.

So, when it comes to Latin Americans saying shit like we don’t speak Spanish, I get annoyed personally when locals down here make that assumption about me without even knowing me.

But, taking me out of it, I get where they come from.

There is a bias for English in the world and that might cause some resentment or annoyance among a few of the locals down here.

And, because of that global bias for English, you do see more expectations on them to learn English than for us to learn Spanish (not taking into account individual circumstances).

Still, that takes us to her argument – are Latin Americans hypocritical?

Why don’t they have marketing and branding in French for example?

Let’s wrap this up as I find it to be a silly argument but one worth addressing because I have seen this argument expressed online before in Facebook groups for expats in Latin America.

Final Verdict: Hypocritical?

It’s a dumb argument.

First, as I said, you have this bias for English over Spanish in the world in which many Latin Americans feel some pressure to learn English but not as many Americans feel that pressure for Spanish.

Second, I used to work in food service. Yes, I remember products being labelled in French for example.

Does that mean our packaging services are more language inclusive to the French? Sure.

I imagine they put French on those packages because of NAFTA and our economic ties to Canada where French is more spoken in some parts up there.

And, given that the US has a shit ton more immigrants from more places around the world than Mexico, I would say that we likely have a little more inclusivity for immigrants and their languages from other parts of the world beyond French Canadians and Spanish speakers.

At the very least, if you live in a big city, maybe you can find a local community of people like you a little more easier up there than down here.

Like a friend of mine who is Pakistani and has his own little Pakistani community up in Columbus, Ohio.

I can’t speak on how big that community is but he has some friends like him and supposedly some restaurants he can go to that have Urdu in the area.

That’s a very specific example though.

Still, because of that extra diversity of immigrants that we have, I guess you can say that MAYBE the US is more language inclusive assuming said immigrant from Pakistan or wherever isn’t going to small town Iowa and instead goes to Chicago or NYC.

Some bigger city where he’d have a better shot at finding more people like him.

Having said that, who gives a shit?

Oh no – evil Mexico doesn’t have as much Urdu or French accommodation.

Who cares?

Every country has a national language – official or not – in which that language gets priority over other languages.

Be it the US or Mexico.

Just because the US is maybe more inclusive when it comes to the extra accommodation for numerous languages in urban areas doesn’t mean Mexico has to do the same if they don’t want to.

Third, going off the last point, it should also be asked “who cares” to the topic of if the packaging in Mexico doesn’t always have other languages like English written on them.

And, when discussing packaging, how does she know if employees in food service or other industries don’t have English translations on packaging or whatever?

Honestly, I have no idea if they do because I never worked in the food industry in Mexico or any industry where I’d have access to their packaging.

I do, however, have this box here that I got at a open air market in a Mexican city called Pachuca when I ordered a bunch of eggs.

The box seemingly comes from Arizona to be fair but it was used in Mexico to give me my eggs and it does have English on it!

Fourth, when it comes to the subject of English though, there’s plenty of accommodation for that in Mexico.

In numerous restaurants around Mexico, you can likely find one of the four at least to be true:

  • Said restaurant might have some English words in its name to sound fancier.
  • Some menu items (like cheese cake) might be labelled in English just to sound fancier or the place was too lazy to translate it into Spanish for whatever reason.
  • The entire menu is in English or they have a separate menu in English (that, to be fair, might possibly have higher prices than the one on the Spanish language menu).
  • Some employee in the restaurant might likely know just enough to handle your order (or, quite possibly, might speak it very well).

Hell, even if you go into a small town in Mexico that isn’t at all touristy at some random restaurant, it’s quite possible that at least some local customer will know enough broken English to help you order (assuming the employees fail at that which isn’t always a fair assumption).

So, in short, I don’t see much hypocrisy here.

Just feels like a very lame complaint that I have seen a rare few foreigners bring up when discussing life in Mexico or broader Latin America.

At any rate, that’s all I got to say on the topic.

Drop any comments below in the comment section.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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