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The Funny Detail of English on Machines in Latin America

Published June 13, 2022 in Mexico - 0 Comments

In Latin America, there's sometimes a little funny detail that you notice with people putting English on certain things.

In my blog, I've written about some of the more obvious cases like:

1. Some Latin Americans wanting to come across as fancier and speaking in English.

2. Some of the same Latin Americans from above might name their restaurant, bar or whatever with some English word or two (or use some English slogan with it).

3. Sometimes nicer local or foreign establishments will keep the English word for something on the menu (like calling something "cheese cake").

So on and so on.

In this case, I'm not at all talking about anything fancier.

Nothing upper class here.

What I am about to discuss is a very minor to detail to life down here that you notice over time.

I imagine it's similar to when you see poorer Latin Americans wear donated clothing from abroad that has English on it. Perhaps a football team they never heard or or whatever else like I wrote about with an example in this article here.

So what am I talking about?

English on the Machines

Perhaps similar to donated clothing, you also got machines down here that have English on them and the locals never managed to replace the English word with Spanish.

Granted, in the examples I'm about to give, it really doesn't matter.

They still understand obviously what the buttons mean (or most of them anyhow).

The first example is when I got on a bus on UNAM campus to take pictures of the area.

When I got on the final bus to head home after a long day of 7 to 8 hours walking around (and getting sun burnt), I noticed an odd detail on the bus.

Here it is.

As you can see, the first button is in English and it says "stop."

The second button is completely in Spanish.

So this example is a tiny bit more confusing.

Why is one piece of equipment in English and the other in Spanish?

If they were both in English, you'd guess that the entire bus was made abroad and maybe exported down here.

But the more important button -- the emergency one -- is in Spanish.

So my only guess is maybe they wanted to add a "stop" button to the bus but could only find them in English or that was the cheapest option?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Next, we have some treadmills at my local gym in Pedregal de Santo Domingo of Mexico City. 

As you can see, the treadmill was made by "Matrix."

A foreign sounding company.

So I can only  guess that it was cheaper to buy one of their treadmills) or maybe it was one of their few options?

Because, after enough time here, you do notice that a lot of foreign technology tends to be more expensive here than local options or what it'd be to buy it back home.

You'd think maybe it'd be true of treadmills also or maybe they bought it used.

Who knows.

Either way, technology like that in English isn't  uncommon either.

But, similar to the bus, it doesn't require much English understanding to know how to operate, I think.

Some of it might not be understandable to some of the locals.

Maybe a few of it play around with it at first to figure out how it works.

But it's not complicated and I see plenty of locals use it (and, in the area I live in, there are far less locals who speak English).

Anyway, that's all I got to say.

It's not a big topic for life in Latin America.

But a minor detail you notice.

Got anything to add?

Drop a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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