Why Salma Hayek’s accent is sexy but the gringo accent isn’t

Antonio & Salma are well-loved for their accents. Mayor Bloomberg? Not so much.

The other day I talked about my accent and whether I should embrace it or continue to attempt to erase it. For the sake of brevity, (which I don’t think I quite succeeded at anyway), I edited the post before publishing and took out some other points I wanted to make.

One of the rabbits I didn’t chase down the path the other day, but will today, is the fact that the gringo/a accent in Spanish is often perceived as one of two things:

1. Ugly, (i.e. “That gringo’s accent is horrible. He’s butchering our language!“)

-or-

2. Amusing, funny, hilarious

Latinos born and raised in the United States who have difficulty speaking Spanish are often made fun of or criticized even more heavily than Caucasian gringos who try to learn the language. Jennifer Lopez, Cristina Aguilera, Erik Estrada and many other celebrities have taken plenty of flack in the past.

Yet native Spanish speakers with heavy accents in English are often considered “sexy.”

Examples?

Salma Hayek

Antonio Banderas

Sofia Vergara

And so the question occurred to me – why the double standard? It seems rather unfair, (and yet, even I admit that I would rather hear a native Spanish speaker speak English with an accent than a native English speaker speak Spanish with an accent.)

I decided to ask an acquaintance I made this past year, François Grosjean, a Professor of psycholinguistics and author of several books including, Bilingual: Life and Reality. I don’t know him in person but I discovered him via the fascinating articles he writes on Psychology Today and once E-mailed him questions I had regarding the phenomenon some bilinguals experience which feels somewhat like having a split personality. He happened to be working on an article on that very topic and asked permission to quote me. (The article: Change of Language, Change of Personality? is here. I’m quoted as “Bilingual 1.”)

And so, when I had this new question on my mind, I didn’t hesitate to contact Dr. Grosjean again. I asked:


…Why is it that when White/Anglo/”Gringos” speak Spanish with an accent, it is usually considered “ugly” sounding or “funny” – Yet it seems when native Spanish speakers speak English with an accent, it can be considered “sexy”…

I’m sure this can be said about other languages as well. If you asked Americans if they preferred to hear a native French speaker speak English with an accent or a native German speaker speak English with an accent, I believe the majority would choose the French speaker. The French accent in English is considered sexy or pretty, but the German accent is considered ugly and harsh.

Are these learned cultural preferences or are there scientific linguistic differences that simply make one scenario more pleasing to the ears than the other?

Dr. Grosjean gave me permission to share excerpts of his E-mail. He answered, in part:

“As for the other question: “are there scientific linguistic differences that simply make one scenario more pleasing to the ears than the other?” – I don’t have an answer. You’d expect that researchers would have examined this but I personally don’t know of a study. Everything you say is correct but how much is due to the way the dominant language sounds and how much to cultural preferences is simply not known.”

So there you have it – it’s still a mystery!

While I had Dr. Grosjean’s ear though, I also asked him what he thought of my dilemma regarding my accent. Should I erase it or embrace it? His opinion?

“I think the best thing is to accept it as it is. Your loved ones like you the way you are, with an accent, and that is what really matters. As for the others, hopefully, with time, they’ll put more emphasis on how well you speak Spanish and not on the accent that you have. In any case, the more you do speak Spanish, the more your accent will improve; so it’s a win win situation all the way, I think.”

Thanks to Dr. Grosjean for allowing me to quote him and for being so kind in answering my various linguistic questions. Check out his most recent Psychology Today post – it should hit home to many of you, (as it did for me!)

Falling in Love With a Culture and a Language.

(Image sources: Live at J&R and Eva Rinaldi.)

I’ve got some ‘splaning to do

I’m not usually chismosa but I admit it, yesterday I Googled “hijo de Espinoza Paz” … I was CURIOUS, okay? Just curious.

I respect Espinoza’s privacy and blah-blah-blah, but I just wanted to see the cute bebito. So here I am, innocently acting like a tabloid-crazed fan when I should be writing or folding laundry, and here are the Google Images search results I see for “hijo de Espinoza Paz” …

Santa. Mierda. That’s my younger son! The photo is from this post, which doesn’t even mention Espinoza Paz.

Anyway, I just wanted to head off any rumors.

#1. That cute polar bear/child is mine and Carlos’s.
#2. I’ve never even met Espinoza Paz, let alone…
#3. Even if I met Espinoza Paz I doubt he’s into chubby gringas.
#4. IF Espinoza Paz happened to have the same taste as Carlos and he let it be known to me I would say the following:

“I’m sorry, Espinoza, but it isn’t meant to be. I’m happily married. I’m sorry to break your heart, but maybe you can at least get a few good songs out of it? … Can we still be friends?… Actually, I can’t be friends either. You wrote that song ‘Amigos con Derecho’ so it won’t look right, plus my husband, (WHO I’M MADLY IN LOVE WITH), can be a little celoso. I should go… Espinoza, please. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” {Pulls his hands off my ankle and walks away.}

Now all that’s left to do is hope Carlos doesn’t read this or I’ll end up on an episode of Maury. At least DNA test results would prove I’m telling the truth. Then I could get all up in his face, “I told you! I TOLD YOU!” … Then Maury would have our Polar Bear/Child brought out where we’d hug him together, Carlos would apologize for having ever doubted my fidelity and we’d live happily ever after.

Pero, sheesh, who would have ever thought Google Images could cause such drama?

JLo backs it up like a Tonka Truck for Pitbull

Last night my 13 year old interrupted my very impassioned rendition of Yertle the Turtle, which I was reading to his little brother before bedtime.

“Mommy! Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull just performed on the American Music Awards and it was nasty!”

“What do you mean nasty?”

“Jennifer Lopez was barely wearing anything, first of all.”

“Okay, not shocking.”

“No, but she like put her butt near Pitbull’s… you-know, and Pitbull looked like, all happy, of course.”

(The 10 year old giggles.)

I answered my 13 year old with something like, “Yeah? Well, you know how Pitbull is, honey,” and I went back to the story. I mean, it’s JLo and Pitbull. It’s the American Music Awards… what did he expect? We have these conversations often enough. I’ve told him, sex sells. I’ve told him that at some point very soon (if not already), he will find performances and images like these to be spectacular rather than “nasty.” I’ve told him that no matter how strong certain urges may be and despite what the culture says is appropriate – he should always treat women with respect.

Then this morning I came across a photo from the performance which he had described to me and it made me think.

(I can’t use the photo here since it’s owned by Getty Images. Click the link above to see the original. Here are some screenshots I took from video.)

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video.

J.Lo and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards.Image is a screenshot taken from video

What can be said about these photos? I’ll admit that my first reaction was to laugh – (partly because it appears that Pitbull’s pants aren’t flat in the front and partly because I imagine Marc Anthony watching this from the sidelines.)

Look, total honesty here – I love both JLo and Pitbull. I listen to their music and think they are both talented individuals and exceptional entertainers. Pitbull is one of the very few artists that I’m willing to actually buy the album from, because I love every song and know I can dance through the entire CD from beginning to end. As a woman, I get kind of disgusted with the constant objectification of women in his music – but as a music lover, I can’t get enough. It’s a moral contradiction that I’m totally aware of.

After that initial amused reaction though, the photo also made me kind of sad. Here is JLo, one of the most successful Latinas in the world, bending over for Pitbull like an endless number of women have happily done for him before being tossed aside like used Kleenex.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a meaningless performance meant to entertain and nothing should be read into it. I know it was just a choreographed dance, a music awards moment that lasted for no more than 10 seconds and will ultimately be forgotten – but it just seems symbolic of how women, (Latina and otherwise), are viewed and consequently treated.

The cultural message: No matter how smart, how successful, how kind or talented you are, in the end, chicas, this is what you’re good for.

A peso for your thoughts, gente.

Related Link:

Latinaish.com – Autoestima

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias – Giveaway!

Gabriel Iglesias is one of my favorite comedians, so when I was asked if I wanted to do a giveaway of the DVD release of the Comedy Central show, “Gabriel Iglesias Stand-up Revolution” – I was all in!

This is a 2 disc set with over 40 minutes of Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias and his comedian friends and even features OZOMATLI as the house band. If you haven’t seen the TV show, Gabriel serves mainly as host and introduces the comedians before they perform. All of the comedians are friends of Gabriel’s and most of them are breaking into the business. Some of the comedians are funnier than others, but the DVD is worth having for the opening story Gabriel tells about Arizona. (Their tour bus was pulled over by Border Patrol – hilarity ensues.) I also loved the outtakes and the music video called “Hey, It’s Fluffy!” made especially for Gabriel by OZOMATLI.

Here’s a preview of the DVD – (which is definitely not for niños and somewhat not safe for work, depending on how cool or not cool your boss is.)

Want your own copy? Read the details below for how to win!

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED—CONGRATS, LAUREN!—

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a 2 disc DVD release of “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution.”

Approximate value: $15.00.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below telling me what you like about comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias! If you’re not yet familiar with Gabriel, tell me about your favorite comedian of all time. (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between November 20th, 2011 through November 25th, 2011. Entries received after November 25th, 2011 at 11:59 pm, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Disclosure: I received this product for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

Hollywood… El Salvador?

[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. For the English translation, please scroll down. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments!]
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Caminando en las calles de El Salvador, encontramos muchas cosas inesperadas. Por un lado, había hoyos tan grandes que pudieron comer totalmente a mi niño menor, (¡Ojo en una esquina cerca de Parque Libertad! Había un hoyo que se parecía a un pequeño Boquerón.)

Un hoyo suficiente profundo por meter la mitad de tu pierna. San Salvador.

Después de casi dar un paso en cosas asquerosas o peligrosas, formé el hábito de mirar por dónde caminaba. Un día cuándo fuimos caminando por el museo Tín Marín, yo estaba sorprendida por encontrarme a mis pies, unas estrellas como las que están en Hollywood.

Había sólo tres estrellas que estaban un poco descuidadas y sólo son para los atletas salvadoreños. Estaban en la acera en frente del Estadio de Mágico González.

Desde que regresamos a los Estados Unidos, han arreglado el estadio adentro. Ojalá que arreglan las estrellas, (aunque tienen cosas mil veces más importantes en que pueden usar el dinero ahorita.) También espero que un día deberian añadir estrellas para La Selecta de Playa.

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[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Walking the streets of El Salvador, we came upon a lot of unexpected things. For one thing, there were holes big enough to completely eat up my little boy, (Look out on a corner near the Parque Libertad! There was a hole there that looked like a little version of the Boquerón.)

[The "Boquerón" is the nickname of San Salvador's volcano crater.]

After almost stepping in disgusting and dangerous things, I formed the habit of watching where I walked. One day when we were walking to the Tín Marín museum, I was surprised to find my feet standing on stars like the ones that are in Hollywood.

There were only three stars that were a little uncared for, and they’re only for Salvadoran athletes. They were on the sidewalk outside Estadio Mágico González.

Since we’ve returned to the United States, they fixed up the stadium inside. Hopefully they’ll fix the stars, (although they have things that are a thousand times more important that they could use the money for right now.) I also hope that some day they add stars for the football players of La Selecta de Playa.

T-Pain Microphone – Giveaway!

Okay, if you don’t listen to hip-hop/rap/popular music, you might not know who T-Pain is – so let me introduce you.

This is a photo I took of T-Pain and Pitbull on the red carpet at the 2011 Latin Billboard Awards in Miami

T-Pain is an American hip-hop artist who developed a unique sound and style by consistently using and thus popularizing “auto tuning.” Auto-tuning is basically an audio process which corrects pitch. Auto-tune has taken a lot of criticism from musicians and music fans alike because when abused, it can make even a talentless average-sounding pop singer sound good. While that’s totally true, I think it has its place in the industry.

Here’s T-Pain singing with our favorite naughty Cubano, Pitbull, so you can hear the “T-Pain effect”:

As T-Pain grew in popularity so did auto-tuning. In response to that interest, T-Pain first created an i-phone app that let’s you play with the effect. If you don’t have an i-phone – no worries. Now T-Pain has also created an auto-tune microphone.

K-Mart is selling the microphone and featuring it as one of their “Fab 15 toys” for the holidays with Modern Family actor, Rico Rodriguez.

My boys and I got to play with this toy the past few days, (much to Carlos’s annoyance.) I’m actually impressed with the features. You can record with it, (3 minutes of recording time), and then upload it to the internet via a USB hidden in the bottom of the microphone. The microphone also has a headphone jack, MP3 input and 3 original beats to play around with. Chécalo:

Think it looks fun? You’re in luck – I am giving away one I Am T-Pain™ Mic! Check out the giveaway below!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

———————————————————————————————————————————–
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. CONGRATS TO OUR WINNER: Denisse!
————————————————————————————————————————————

Prize description: “Experience the pop culture phenomenon of the T-Pain Effect™ with the I Am T-Pain™ Mic. Transform your voice into T-Pain’s style of singing with a press of a button. Sing to your favorite tracks, freestyle over exclusive beats, and upload beats from your computer to the mic. Record, save and share online with friends.” Approximate value: $39.99.

How to Enter:

Just leave a comment below telling me what song you’d want to sing into the microphone! (It doesn’t have to be a T-Pain song!) (Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 17th, 2011 through October 25th, 2011. Entries received after October 25th, 2011 at 11:59 pm, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Disclosure: I received this product for review purposes. No other compensation was given. As always, all opinions are my own.

An Interview with RPM Miami star, Adrian Bellani

Adrian Bellani - (Image source: IMDb)

Below is my interview with actor Adrian Bellani, the super caliente half-Salvadoran star of Mun2′s hit show, RPM Miami! Disfrútenla!

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Latinaish.com: Hola Adrian! Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’ve been wanting to talk to you since I missed meeting you at the RPM Miami launch party and again at the Latin Billboard Awards. (Although we’ve connected a few times on Twitter since then!)

As a fan of RPM Miami, first let me say felicidades on the success of your first season. Can you share any secrets about the season finale?

Adrian Bellani: I can’t share much, but what I can tell you is that it is filled with tons of drama and action. You don’t want to miss it!

Latinaish.com: Now, your character Alejandro/Alex is a veteran of the Iraq war who loses his best friend, Mike, on a mission. When Alejandro comes back to Miami he falls for his best friend’s girl, Luisa, Mike’s widow. I saw a comment online from a former soldier who objected to such a relationship saying that a soldier would never do that to a fellow soldier. What do you think?

Adrian Bellani: I respect his opinion, but I don’t think anyone is right or wrong unless they have been put in that position. It’s easy to say “No, I’d never do that to my boy,” but at the end of the day things change. There is that connection Luisa and Alex have, everything seems comfortable, everything seems nice. It was one of the issues that I spoke with the director, (Jacobo Rispa) about. I didn’t want it to seem like he had forgotten about his best friend and was moving in on his girl. I think we did a good job showing Alex’s conflict towards his feelings for Luisa, and the guilt he carried with Mike’s loss.

Alejandro/Alex and Luisa, heating things up on RPM Miami.

Latinaish.com: One thing I love about RPM Miami is that it’s fully bilingual. What has it been like working on a show where you get to choose whether to say your lines in English or Spanish? Is it freeing or do you get tongue tied?

Adrian Bellani: Totally freeing. It’s the way we speak. If you grew up speaking both languages, you understand the concept and the idea. I had never worked and spoken Spanish on screen. It was lovely being able to speak in my accent and first language. I don’t have many Latino friends in L.A., so I find myself speaking mostly English. It was nice to be surrounded by Hispanics.

Latinaish.com: As I mentioned earlier, I missed meeting you in Miami. Knowing you’re half-Salvadoran, I asked some of your co-stars where the “guanaco” was – (My husband is from El Salvador.) … I think your co-stars thought I was asking for “El Guajo” at first. Here’s the video of our mix-up:

Now I can finally ask you the question, “Which Caliche (Salvadoran slang) word is your favorite?”

Adrian Bellani: I’ve actually never heard the word “Caliche” before – So that’s a first for me. You got me on this one. Too hard to name just one. I could throw an entire list out. The first one that comes to mind is “baboso” – my grandfather used to call us “baboso.” I’ll let you do your homework and see if you can find out what that means.

Latinaish.com: [No homework for me! I already know that "baboso" means "stupid" - but it can be used affectionately in a joking way.]

Thanks so much for your time. Before we go, please tell us when we should tune in for season 2 of RPM Miami and what other projects you’re working on?

Adrian Bellani: The premiere of season 2 RPM Miami has not been announced. We’re so excited for the second season! For those that missed episodes in season one you will get a chance to watch the entire season again before the second season premieres.

I have a few projects that I’m excited about. I’m on the 4th episode of Rizzoli and Isles – airs August 1st, I believe. September 23rd Moneyball will hit theaters, (I play the role of real life baseball all star Carlos Peña.)

Last week I wrapped an independent film called CROSSTOWN. It’s a beautiful script about the struggles of a Salvadoran immigrant family trying to make it in the USA. The film is very intense and very raw. I had the opportunity to work along side Manny Perez, (a Dominican actor), who I’m a huge fan of. Definitely keep an eye out for it.

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Watch Adrian Bellani on RPM MIAMI – Sundays at 10pm EST on mun2, and tune in for the grand season finale on Sunday, July 24th at 10pm EST. Missed an episode? Visit mun2 online to catch up!

Belleza en Grande

Telemundo is beginning a special series aimed at plus-sized women to air during their show “Al Rojo Vivo.” The series, “Belleza en Grande” seeks to promote acceptance of all body shapes and sizes while providing helpful fashion advice.

Spanish-language television isn’t exactly known for promoting acceptance of anything but perfect bodies, (and English-language television isn’t much better), so I’m really pleased to see Telemundo taking this step in the right direction.

For more information on the series, including when to tune in, check out the press release:

MIAMI – July 8 2011– Telemundo’s “Al Rojo Vivo” will air “Belleza en Grande,” a series of special reports starting Monday, July 11 at 5pm ET/ 4C. María Celeste Arrarás, will present a sneak preview of this series during her appearance on NBC’s “Today Show” on Saturday, July 9, as part of the ongoing collaboration between the two networks.

Conducted by fashion expert Quique Usales, “Belleza en Grande” celebrates female beauty in all shapes and sizes. Changing the belief that fashion is designed only for skinny women, Maria Celeste, along with Quique, will present daily reports that will transform the way people see the plus-size woman.

Ranging from how to pick the right underwear, how to dress for the office, and how to select the basic pieces for a wardrobe, to how to choose the perfect lingerie for seduction as well as the right hairstyle to accentuate her best features, this series will not only offer beauty and fashion tips to women who are not a size zero, but will also give them the tools -and the inspiration- to have the right attitude to look beautiful, whatever their size.

Viewers will be able to see these and other special reports on http://www.Telemundo.com/alrojovivo.

What do you think?