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Cinco de Mayo: America's Celebration of México

By theboz in Culture
Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:40:08 AM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

On May 5th of every year, many Americans celebrate a day by going out to eat fajitas and drink margaritas to celebrate a holiday called "Cinco de Mayo." While many people celebrate it, few know its origins or its importance. This article is meant to expose the truth about the holiday, and inform the world as to what it's really all about.


Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for "fifth of May" and is the anniversary of a significant battle in Mexican history. In 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French in the battle of Puebla. Napoleon III had attempted to invade México, in order to reclaim something from the immense debts that México owed France. He declared his cousin, the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, in charge of México and sent troops to invade the country. The French troops landed on the coast and marched inwards towards Mexico City. Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin with a number of troops much smaller than the French army, fought valiantly against the French and won in the battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. This battle temporarily halted the French invasion of Mexico, but an enraged Napoleon III sent more troops later on.

While the battle was an important one at the time, it is comparable in importance to the battle of Gettysburg in the U.S. Most Mexicans outside of Puebla do not celebrate on May 5th, and those that do refer to it as the battle of Puebla day. Still, businesses are open, schools are open, and people do not party any harder than they would on any other normal day.

A common mistake amongst Americans is that May 5th is the Mexican day of independance. This is simply not true. The day México was free from the rule of Spain occured September 16th, 1810 when Father Miguel Hidalgo rang the bell in his church to call the natives and people of mixed-blood to mass, starting the revolution against the Spanish. Father Hidalgo is compared to the American icons of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Clearly, there is a huge difference in the importance of September 16th, as Mexicans celebrate the holiday in ways similar to how Americans celebrate July 4th.

Why then, is this holiday so vigorously celebrated by drinking and festivities in the United States? There are many things that combined to make Cinco de Mayo a holiday in the U.S. The first was commercial interests. Saint Patrick's Day is an obvious ethnic success in the U.S., where people pretend to be Irish for a day and go out and order a pint of Guinness and wear green. Cinco de Mayo was originally looked at as a chance for commercial entities to bring in more money in a similar way. It's located between Easter and Memorial Day with plenty of buffer, so it's convenient to not clash with other commercialized holidays. Cinco de Mayo is a good chance for tequila companies, Mexican restaurants, and other businesses that sell Mexican and Tex-mex products to show off and bring people in to purchase their products. However, most of the foods that Americans eat and think of as Mexican are actually so Americanized to not resemble anything sold in Mexico. Still, many Americans think of Tex-mex foods as being authentic, so they flock to the restaurants and order their fajitas and chimichangas.

The other catalyst for the holiday are the immigrants and descendants of immigrants of Latin American countries. They look at Cinco de Mayo as a day to celebrate the similarities in their cultures and histories. To them, it's not a celebration of the Mexican battle of Puebla, but rather a celebration of what it means to be latino. It is a day of pride, but an inclusive holiday that anyone can celebrate whether you are Mexican, Guatemalan, gringo, Cuban, French, British, or Japanese. The promoters of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations often try to be informative to non-latinos in order to let them know more of their culture. Unfortunately, some often use it as a time to protest and exclude others, but those people are in the minority of Cinco de Mayo celebrators.

As you can clearly see, Cinco de Mayo is a complex holiday. While there is so much wrongly attributed to it and heavily promoted by businesses as a just another chance to make money, many people have taken the holiday and started to turn it around into something good. While the people of México may not celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Americans will for years to come, as the holiday becomes more and more a part of American culture.

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Poll
Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
o Yes, and I am Mexican 1%
o No, and I am Mexican 2%
o Yes, and I am from another country 12%
o No, and I am from another country 83%

Votes: 79
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o fajitas
o margaritas
o the battle of Puebla
o The day México was free from the rule of Spain occured September 16th, 1810
o George Washington
o Abraham Lincoln
o a chance for commercial entities to bring in more money
o an inclusive holiday that anyone can celebrate
o a part of American culture
o Also by theboz


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Cinco de Mayo: America's Celebration of México | 108 comments (35 topical, 73 editorial, 0 hidden)
Some clarification and some more trivia. (5.00 / 12) (#9)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun May 05, 2002 at 07:44:59 PM EST

You are not entirely correct about the celebrations in Mexico.

The day is an official holiday, there are many parades and speeches all around the country (the most colorful of them been the one in Puebla itself, where the high point is the march of Zacapoaxtlas, who formed part of the Mexican army and became legendary for their courage). We didi not win too many battles, so this one is worth celebrating :-)

The Mexican army was commanded by Zaragoza, who curiously was born in Texas of all places, when it was still part of Mexico.

Our President was Benito Juarez, the only Indigenous American that has been President. Amongst other things he kept the fight until the French were gone, and he personally signed the death sentence of Maximilian.He also passed legislation to separate church and state and made sure the church lost all influence in public matters. He did not speak any Spanish until his early teens.

Maximilian, the poor chap the French tried to impose, had progresist ideas not of the liking of neither his masters in France or his promoters in Mexico.

If you want to know a bit more about this very interesting period in Mexican History you could read "Noticias del Imperio" by Fernando del Paso (unfortunately there does not seem to be an English translation) which is a novel that recreates the tragedy of the Austrianhungarian couple (Maximilian was executed, his wife, Charlotte, became crazy).

About Independence, it is worth clarifying that Mexico started the fight in the date you mention, but Independene was not achieved until 1821.

During the Independence war Slavery was abolished.


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I wouldn't say I was wrong exactly either. (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by theboz on Sun May 05, 2002 at 07:52:28 PM EST

The day is an official holiday, there are many parades and speeches all around the country (the most colorful of them been the one in Puebla itself, where the high point is the march of Zacapoaxtlas, who formed part of the Mexican army and became legendary for their courage).

I think other than in Puebla and probably D.F. it isn't celebrated much. I know that the people of Jalisco don't really give it a second thought. That's why I compared it to the battle of Gettysburg in the U.S. That was a very important battle in the history of the U.S., but it's not celebrated too much by anyone outside of the area.

About Independence, it is worth clarifying that Mexico started the fight in the date you mention, but Independene was not achieved until 1821.

That's the same way it worked in the U.S. I guess our nations see the independance day as when they said, "You're not the boss of me!" to the European nations, but the wars that ensued were when that was proven. I imagine that if either of our nations had lost the wars, those dates wouldn't have been called the independance days. :o)

Thanks for the other facts though, I wasn't aware of some of that. I was hoping my fiancee would be able to help me write this but she's been busy today so I had to wing it.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

I hope she does not trash my history tidbits... (4.66 / 3) (#13)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun May 05, 2002 at 08:10:23 PM EST

Saludos.
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[ Parent ]
I'm sure she won't. (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by theboz on Sun May 05, 2002 at 08:11:38 PM EST

Besides, you're from Mexico City if I remember correctly, you probably have more experience with history than she does.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Gringo isn't offensive (4.14 / 7) (#31)
by Dread on Sun May 05, 2002 at 09:22:45 PM EST

I see an argument about the definition of gringo being argued below. I read something interesting about that discussion here. The sum of it is that the English dictionaries are wrong, and you should get your definision from a Spanish dictionary.
Confident, cocky, lazy, dead.
Yup. (none / 0) (#53)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:06:36 PM EST

You are right!

:-)
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[ Parent ]

I have a sincere question for you (please help); (3.00 / 1) (#102)
by snowlion on Mon May 06, 2002 at 03:28:29 PM EST

I'd email this to you but your email isn't listed.

I'm a USian gringo activist and Free software coder. My girlfriend Amber is from Colombia (CartaGena & Barranquilla particularly). My daughter is 1 year old. We're thinking about moving out of the country for a few years, preferrably to a Spanish speaking country.

I programmed professionally for 4 years, but can't stand to help powerful people do bad things. I can't stand to make these rich schemers get even richer. And there is little that I enjoy more than programming something that everyone can use. I love Free software, and work on Free software projects. I use Linux exclusively.

I have some programming talent, and want to put it to good use, especially somewhere that could really use it. I love to give free mentoring and teach free classes in programming once a week, and expect that I'll mentor and teach wherever I go. Right now, with the positive legislation Free software is receiving in South American countries, South America seems like the place to be. I'd also like to go down there in order to learn more about what's happening down there, what the cultural climate is like, and what the political climate is like. Amber and I would also like our daughter to learn Spanish natively.

Colombia (Amber's home for 20 years) is not an option right now; The kidnappings, though becoming less frequent, are still too frequent. And I have an essentially politically active nature; I'd probably be shot within a month of touching down, if not kidnapped and held for ransom. Safety is an issue.

Do you have any recommendations?
--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]

on offensive stuff (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by Lenny on Mon May 06, 2002 at 03:29:43 PM EST

Who decides if a term is offensive...the one who says the term, or the one who hears the term?


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
Slurro de Mayo! (2.36 / 19) (#59)
by theElectron on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:27:35 PM EST

Thanks for giving this gringo a better appreciation of spic culture!

--
Join the NRA!
Monroe Doctrine (5.00 / 5) (#64)
by IHCOYC on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:48:53 PM EST

I found the article intriguing and informative.

One tragedy of the Cinco de Mayo affair is that unfortunately, the US military had its plate full in May of 18 and 62. According to the Monroe Doctrine, the US was not going to tolerate any foreign archduke in fancy britches trying to take over a country in our hemisphere. If the USA had been less preoccupied at the time, we would at a bare minimum have sent military aid to the Mexican republic, and probably troops as well. Napoleon III probably would never have tried a stunt like this were it not for the Civil War.

Whatever happened to Napoleon II, anyway?

This message has been placed here IN MEMORIAM by the Tijuana Bible Society.

Napoleon II (5.00 / 3) (#65)
by ucblockhead on Sun May 05, 2002 at 10:58:45 PM EST

Died as a child.

It is interesting to contrast it with the situation with Venezuala in the early part of the 20th century, where Teddy Roosevelt used his big stick to keep Kaiser Wilhelm from doing something similar to collect debts.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Nope (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by linca on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:47:40 AM EST

Napoleon II reigned for no time at all as his father's successor while a child ; the two times Napoleon I was deposited by the invading European armies, his father tried to put him in power, failing both times. Napoleon II thus never reigned, and died at the age of 21. His cousin Napoleon III took that number when he seized power, considering the son of the first emperor had actually reigned.

[ Parent ]
Very amusing and informative. +1. (4.00 / 2) (#68)
by Kasreyn on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:27:56 AM EST

I like the rather tongue-in-cheek take of the Americanization of these holidays, nice touch. I wonder if Irish-Americans (I might count as one, but there's not really much Irish in me =P) get annoyed by the way St. Patrick's Day is treated. Any Irish-Americans feel like commenting?


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Well (4.75 / 4) (#85)
by nobbystyles on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:45:44 AM EST

I am second generation Irish-Ukian and it gets on my tits that Irish terrorist groups use St Patrick's day in the US to raise money off gullible people who think that they are Irish despite the fact they have been many generations in the US.

But hey apart from that it's great to see people dress up in Leprauchaun suits and drink guiness and lie about their ancestry. It brings a warm glow to my heart...  

[ Parent ]

some interesting odds and ends (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by shrubbery on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:37:58 PM EST

Not Irish at all but I do know a little especially about the musical aspects. Any true paddys out there may correct me :P But there are some interesting differences between fact and perception of Irish-Americans.

The St Patrick's Day parade was an American concoction started in Boston. Later on, many I-A groups went over and paraded in towns and cities themselves. As the country grew, the parades became more native and homegrown and a sort of fesival like Mardi Gras.

The bagpipe is more associated with Scotland even though its history can still be traced in Ireland. More "Irish" would be the uilleann pipes which are smaller and sit on the lap used in some traditional acts.

When Americans parody the accent, its resembles the accent of County Cork the most, the southern-most county of the country. Move from north to south and you'll find some distinct variations in accent.

Traditional dance music's revitalization can be attributed to I-A's. That is jigs, reels, waltzs, etc (aka the fiddley diddley). This type of music was really only popular in the poor regions of the West. The perception as the country grew was that it was just poor music and ignored as such. I-A's such as music archivist Chicago police chief Francis O'Neill and recording artist/fiddler Michael Coleman in the 20's and 30's kept much of it alive as the music slowly died in the mid-20th century. It was revived during the folk revolution in the US in the 60's and brought to the forefront in the 80's and 90's because of things like Titanic and Riverdance.

The amateur pub session is a relatively recent phonomenon maybe as new as the 50's. Most traditional dance music was played in ceili or dance halls.

I've talked to an Irishman before from Armagh who never heard of corned beef and cabbage until they emigrated to the US.

[ Parent ]

Alternative name (4.00 / 3) (#81)
by srichman on Mon May 06, 2002 at 07:21:50 AM EST

Cinco de Mayo is a good chance for tequila companies, Mexican restaurants, and other businesses that sell Mexican and Tex-mex products to show off and bring people in to purchase their products.
Yep. And so it was that, in May of my freshman year in college, my friends informed me of the holiday's alternative name: Cinco de Drinko.

It's mentioned in Moon is a Harsh Mistress (5.00 / 2) (#83)
by georgeha on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:24:34 AM EST

by Heinlein, which may have been my first notice of the holiday, back when I was probably 10 or so.

The protagonists, having led a lunar revolt, are on Earth garnering support for the new Lunar nation, and tour Latin America where the story has been spread that they revolted on May 5th (instead of July 4th). So the crowds chant "Cinco De Mayo", "Cinco De Mayo".

4/30 (5.00 / 2) (#84)
by Rand Race on Mon May 06, 2002 at 08:33:28 AM EST

Another holiday celebrating a French defeat in Mexico is Camerone Day, April 30. What's odd is that this day is celebrated by the losers of that particular battle: The French Foreign Legion.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

You forgot an option in your poll (5.00 / 2) (#88)
by Betcour on Mon May 06, 2002 at 09:53:56 AM EST

"No, I'm French, you insensitive bastard"

And here I thought (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by tzanger on Mon May 06, 2002 at 10:19:34 AM EST

It was just America celebrating my birthday... What a letdown. :-(



I know what you mean (none / 0) (#105)
by Erbo on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:32:34 PM EST

It's my wife's birthday, too. Of course, she'd usually rather celebrate with lobster than Mexican food...
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]
Seafood (none / 0) (#106)
by theboz on Mon May 06, 2002 at 04:58:47 PM EST

I don't remember ever seeing lobster, but they do some really good stuff with seafood in Mexico. I've really only had shrimp, octopus, and various types of fish, but it's all really good and fresh.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

One question (none / 0) (#91)
by Otter on Mon May 06, 2002 at 10:50:54 AM EST

Here's the thing I've always wondered about Cinco de Mayo -- why did Jose Cuervo, Corona, Taco Bell and the rest of the US Mexican-ish food industry latch onto the 5th of May? As you note it's a much bigger deal in the US than it is in Mexico. But why that day, specifically, instead of September 16?

Mexican vs. American (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by ucblockhead on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:47:48 PM EST

Not to dispute your question, but Corona is actually Mexican beer, brewed in Mexico, owned by Mexicans. I've no idea as to the source of Cuervo, though.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Cuervo (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by theboz on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:10:25 PM EST

The big secret is that most Tequila all comes from the same place. Especially with reposados like Jose Cuervo makes, it's usually just a blend of other tequilas. I am not aware of any brand that doesn't come from Mexico one way or another, because I am lead to believe that the area around the town of Tequila is the only place agave will grow right. I could be wrong though, because that could just be a matter of pride that the people of Jalisco have.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Yeah, I was unclear (5.00 / 2) (#98)
by Otter on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:05:26 PM EST

Not to dispute your question, but Corona is actually Mexican beer, brewed in Mexico, owned by Mexicans. I've no idea as to the source of Cuervo, though.

Right about Corona, and I think the same goes for Cuervo. I was referring to the US sales and marketing arms of Mexican companies like them, as well as US-based companies like Taco Bell and Frito Lay.

Like Cinco de Mayo, both Corona and Cuervo also fall into the category of "Mexican, but driven by the US market". At least in my experience, Mexicans are far more likely to drink Tecate and Herradura.

[ Parent ]

Report from Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by daviddennis on Mon May 06, 2002 at 11:52:46 AM EST

I wanted to check out the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Los Angeles, so I attended one on Olvera Street, a well-known Mexican-themed place.  I had thought of it as a shopping center, but it seems more like a park when you visit it.

My first observation was that there were hundreds, no, thousands of people.  The place was absolutely packed with people.

There were the usual carnival fare, which seemed pretty much what you'd see anywhere in the US - themed rides, shooting games, a water slide, cotton candy and the like.  The only consistent Mexican theme was the food.

... and the T-shirts.  I have to say I was a bit appalled by the T-shirt selection.  Not, you understand, that I believe in restricting people's freedom of speech.  But when you see a shirt that says "America: Land of the Free" with barbed wire in front of the flag and what looked like skulls instead of stars, you begin to get the point.  There was also a sizable supply of T-shirts that feted Che and his fellow Cuban revolutionaries - but curiously, not Castro. I guess Che died before he could do anything bad.

The Revolutionary Communist Party was there in force - there were about five or six of them and a giant sign with a collage of their materials.  The RCP had been around for years, and it didn't look like their Revolutionary Worker was getting much attention, although I took a copy for laughs.  I visited their bookstore many years ago and had fun debating the staff (taking the capitalist side), but sadly the staff seem to have lost their friendly nature over the years.  One of them tried to hide his face as I took his picture.

One fellow wore a T-shirt that seemed to contradict the sunny impression we get above.  It was something like "I am not Latino.  I am not Hispanic.  I am Mexican."  Apparently Spanish folks invaded Mexico and did some Bad Things; therefore, Mexicans are Mexicans.  I found this division interesting.  

I engaged this fellow in conversation after asking to take his picture.  I pointed out that he would probably have been a lot worse off in Mexico, so perhaps it's just as well that we oppressors took over.

Surprisingly enough, he agreed, and in quite a friendly tone, too.

So I'm not sure if the people buying them understand how hostile the shirts seem to outsiders.

If you'd like to see the pictures, I have 'em in my digital camera and will be saving them tonight.  If you're curious to see them, write a reply to this or email me at david@amazing.com and I'll make sure to let you know when I put them up.

D

amazing.com has amazing things.

Post them here (none / 0) (#93)
by theboz on Mon May 06, 2002 at 12:20:02 PM EST

It would be interesting to see them, either as a comment here or a diary entry or something.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Yes, give us a link. (none / 0) (#111)
by broken77 on Fri May 31, 2002 at 05:29:13 PM EST

I was there too. Small world. I walked by the booths you're talking about. They didn't offend me though. I liked the fact that not only are they willing to come out to an event like that, but the public didn't mind at all. Try setting up a booth like that at a whitey fair and see what kind of reaction you'll get... By the way, where was this picture taken? I know I've seen that stretch of highway before...

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Why not just have fun and get drunk? (5.00 / 2) (#96)
by Mzilikazi on Mon May 06, 2002 at 01:36:44 PM EST

The lack of proper historical accuracy doesn't stop me the other 364 days out of the year. ;)

St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo are two holidays that have been twisted and modified like a jazz musician taking a simple tune and making something more complex. So what? Both are great excuses to eat and drink a lot and have a good time.

Unlike a lot of European countries and former European colonies, we don't have a lot of regional Saints' days or epic battles from a thousand years ago to celebrate. So a couple of minor holidays from our immigrants got co-opted into bigger celebrations. Happened with Hanukkah as well, and with the 17th of May (Norwegian Independence) in some areas of Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest. And you've even got a few things like Kwanzaa, which is a completely synthetic holiday (but hasn't seemed to gain broad-based interest or support because of its exclusive, rather than inclusive nature).

Several of my neighbors are from Mexico, and the impression I've always had was that the reasons behind the holiday weren't as important as was the chance to have a good time and celebrate being Mexican alongside us pale gringos. :)

Viva el Cinco de Mayo!
Mzilikazi

Why in May instead of September (4.66 / 3) (#100)
by carlos HRE on Mon May 06, 2002 at 02:12:30 PM EST

As pointed out in the story, a much more important celebration would be Sept 16th, the actual Independence Day (the start of the war, which wasn't over till 1821).

They way I heard this, the original Cinco De Mayo festivities in the US was organized by latin students in a university in California (I want to say UCLA, but I'm not sure), to celebrate their Mexican roots - their first intention was to do this on Sept 16, but it happened to be inconvenient regarding the school calendar! People were only coming on board, not much time for preparation / socialization, so they looked for an alternative in a more convenient time... and hit upon May 5th (other possibility was Feb 28, the Day of the Flag in Mexico).

About the "inclusive holiday that anyone can celebrate", I think it's more accurate of October 12th, the "Day of the Race", which conmemorates Columbus' arrival on the continent, and is pretty inclusive all around the americas (while may 5th isn't a big deal to argentinians at all).

So yeah, Cinco de Mayo is not that big of a deal in Mexico. Sure, it's a holiday, just like uh, memorial day in the US or some such. There are a number of funny sayings, anectdotes and trivia harking back to the French war, though. For instance, if you are running away scared shitless about something, you are said to "be running like a Frenchman on May fifth". 8-)

Other than that, regardless of where you are, it's a good excuse to get drunk. And I can't really argue with that. I celebrate St. Patrick's day (and I'm pretty far away from Irish), and Chinese New Year too.

Cheers,
A random Mexican lurker.
--
"[Nethack has] the replayability of a Denise Richards look-alike sex drone." -- MotorMachineMercenary

The True Origin of Cinco de Mayo (4.60 / 5) (#104)
by Evil Overlord on Mon May 06, 2002 at 03:53:40 PM EST

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellman's
mayonnaise was manufactured in England. The "Titanic" was
carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled  for delivery in
Vera Cruz, Mexico which was to be the next port of call for the
great ship after New York City.

The Mexican people were eagerly awaiting delivery and were
disconsolate at the loss. So much so that they declared a
national day of mourning which they still observe today.

Today is known, of course, as............

Back to another thread... (4.50 / 2) (#107)
by Dave21212 on Mon May 06, 2002 at 10:46:00 PM EST

I thought Cinco de Mayo was just yet another reason to hate the french ???


;)

And How is it Pronounced? (4.00 / 1) (#109)
by Maclir on Tue May 07, 2002 at 04:09:54 PM EST

As a recent arrival in the US from Australia, I pronounced the festival as it is spelt:

sink-o de may-o

I was told that it is not "may-o" (that is what you put on bread), buy "my-o". Any non-gringos have the correct version?

That's right (4.00 / 1) (#110)
by epepke on Tue May 07, 2002 at 05:14:04 PM EST

I'm a gringo, but I minored in Spanish and lived in Mexico (where I taught English). And I grew up in a Cuban neighborhood, in spite of which I can still pronounce an "s."

You're approximately right. SEENGKoe day MAHyoe. However, Spanish has no dipthongs, so you don't really draw out the "ay" or "oe" and just use the first part of the sound. Vowels are only pronounced for a very short period of time in Spanish. Also, the K is not aspirated. The "y" in "Mayo" is palatalized almost to the extent of sounding like a "j" (in some dialects, it sounds almost exactly like a "j," except that the fricative is pronounced farther back, on the palette proper rather than the pre-dental ridge). Also, Spanish is a syllabic rather than a phrasal language, so every syllable takes about the same time to speak, giving it a "machine-gun" quality that many gringos find disconcerting.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Cinco de Mayo: America's Celebration of México | 108 comments (35 topical, 73 editorial, 0 hidden)
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