Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Linguists ponder Laredo's language

Armando Hinojosa's Tejano Sculpture
 Following is an excerpt of a rather long article on linguistics by Kati Pletsch de Garcia of the Soutwest Journal of Linguistics as it appeared a while back.

There are a number of linguistic usages which, I believe, are found heavily in Laredo and perhaps less so in other border areas. These generally include interjections, names for groups, and perhaps a verb of two. I will present examples here. The first is 'ala!'. Ala! Is generally used by kids as an interjection, rather like 'Wow!' It can also be used by adults in a similar fashion, although it is more likely to have an unprintable meaning--rather like 'a la ... *#@*!'
Another interjection is 'Ehhhhhbh ...'. This term generally means 'nawww, of JK' (just kidding). To really use this interjection, the speaker must extend the tongue out of the mouth pointing downwards. Because of this requirement, many people are truly annoyed by this one syllable expression.
The word guey is a bit of a bridge between interjections and a word to describe a person of group of people. As an interjection, guey is similar to 'like Dude'. 'Ya know like, Dude, we went there and then like we started to talk and like, Dude ...' It has many different spellings in this community: , , , , and and is continuously used among young people--'no way, yes guey, really guey?' Admittedly, this word is used throughout many communities, but in Laredo it has gained currency to the likes of 'like', often used after every other
It's sometimes surprising how outsiders perceive our local way of talking. I don't necessarily agree that they hit the nail on the head in their analysis but at least it gives us a different perspective of things.


  1. Dr. Pletsch de Garcia spent a long time at TAMIU, more than a decade if I recall. So, perhaps it is not so much from an outsiders' perspective that she has written her article, but a simple observation as an insider.

    Her comparative linguistics class at the university probably gave her a chance to see firsthand just what she describes.

    But, if you don't agree, just gather the pitchforks and torches and we'll go find them outsiders! :)

  2. Pitchforks and torches sound good but do we get to storm a castle? I guess I didn't get the chuke part, I don't remember that. Or maybe I just never saw it spelled out. I've seen chuco, chucon, chuquito, chuco brown and/or chuquillo but not chuke. Ehhhhhh!

  3. Sure. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e in the West Side would use chuke.

    What? You didn't get the memo?

  4. She and Dr. Garcia-Rios were in Laredo since before I moved to Laredo and left ... maybe a couple years ago. That is a good chunk of someone's life. Then again, maybe my 14 years in Laredo still makes me an outsider too :(.

  5. Yup. You are an outsider. :)

    By the way, nice name dropping there QF. I think an acronym is in order. :)

    Instead of LMIB (Laredo's Most Imposing Blog) perhaps LMCB (Laredo's Most Connected Blog) is in order?

  6. Ok, I admit my use of the term "outsiders" was based on my ignorance of Pletsch De Garcia's ever having taught here in our good ol' hometown. No, QF, you are not an outsider since you have been Laredoized by osmosis. I mean that in the best way possible-in case my humor doesn't translate well to the written word-oops.