Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fifty Shades of the Latino Accent

As a woman from a long line of people with accents — accents to you, not to me — I have always been at a loss as to why American women’s knees turn to jelly at the sound of a Spanish accent. My sisters are with me on this, too.

Men are just men, right? In my case, the men in my Colombian family are brown skinned, long sooty eye lashed, dark haired, and come with the ability, apparently, to make women from the USA tremble just by saying their name aloud. Cynthia trills out of their Colombian male mouths as Eseentya, Judith is breathed out Hoodeet, Anna becomes the hypnotizing Ahna.

You poor things don’t stand a chance, do you?

While growing up, our home in Wisconsin served as a stagecoach stop to my 500 family members in Colombia that needed a place to stay while they applied for citizenship in this country. My childhood memories are of a Prima/Cousin named Paulina, an uncle, Tio Hernando, an aunt, Tia Lilia, and a Primo/Cousin Julio Cesar, along with other assorted 2nd and 3rd degreed relatives who stayed with us.

Now, of all the above relateds mentioned here, it was my Primo, my Cousin Julio Cesar who has given me the clearest peek into how a Spanish accent knocks an American woman flat off her feet.

Julio Cesar was every bit the personification of his name. He came from South America to stay with us while establishing residency in the US. A single man, he was ready to participate in the swinging life of America. He knew no one in this country, so my older sister and I became his friends. He must have been about in his early 30′s, my sister in her mid 20′s, and I was old enough to go along on nights out to check out the dating escene.

One year there was a Valentine’s Day Singles Dance at a local community college. Julio Cesar got wind of it in his evening English as a Second Language classes, and insists we go. We go with him. To us on that night, he is just a guy, our cousin, who knows only the barest of English. Despite his lack of English, he has what all Latino men have going for them: well dressed, and confident. He knows he's to the nines, especially in America where Kmart T shirts and backwards worn baseball caps rule. Julio Cesar is ready for to meet dah loff.

We entered the auditorium where the the Valentine’s Day dance was being held, only an $8.00 admission was charged, which he gentlemanly picked up, and we walked in, full swing. The three of us, all looking sharp, make our first move over to the bar. There is a young, young young blonde co-ed next to us. She orders a Coca-cola, and Julio Cesar hears this, pays for it, not saying a word. Up to this point, she looks at him like the farmhand Eb on Green Acres, but, within seconds of hearing him say ees my plezoor to buy for joo, soh beeeyooteefool, right before our eyes we see her mindfully transform Julio from Eb to Andy Garcia.

There is an actual visual change that falls over her face, and her pupils dilate, her mouth hangs open, and she strikes a pose, tossing her hair over her shoulder. She is so struckdown turned on that her blacked irises now look like something from a Japanese anime. Her cheeks flush so fast I’m afraid she’ll burst into flames.

     Do you see her looking at him like he’s the last man on earth? my sister whispers to me.
     Yeah, what he lacked in looks he sure made up for with that accent, I respond back.
     Drooldrool, says the young blonde thing at the bar.
   The blonde is looking at him, our Eb Dawson cousin, like he’s the last Popsicle left in the freezer.    
      He starts a conversation with her, with near zero English, Joo are so beeyooteefool tonight.. like dees always?, he asks her.
       Drooldrool is all he gets back.
      Dees iss a skoool forr onlee dee beeyoooteefools, no?, he prods further.
      Drooldrool says blondie.

And then he turns to us, saying, "I weel not need a rrrrrride home wich joo tooonight."

A few months later, at Julio Cesar’s Barbizon English Today! class, the instructors try to tame his accent, suggesting he temper down the short letter "i" sound from his current double ee pronounciation to a simple "ih."

He came home from his lesson, miffed, Dey want mee too echange dee wayee Iee say dee I’s. Why would I want too looos dees accent? I can ask for aneeteeng and get eet.

I will never understand the lure of the Spanish accent to American women, but ask me about Gerard Butler and what I hear when he turns to the camera in Ugly Truth and invites the twins to "finish up with it then so I can wrestle you in jello." Bloody hell. that, THAT, I get.

That brogue of an accent, makes a woman's knees to jello, dunnit?



  1. I love English accents. Drooldrool.

    1. Ha, A. I just heard on NPR that the number one sexy accent in America, to women, is the southern drawl. Does not a thing for me...

  2. Call me crazy, but I don't care about accent. I just like a man that communicates beyond a series of grunts and head nods.

  3. As a woman who married an Aussie three months after meeting him, when he had neither a job nor a green card nor a penny to his name... yeah, accents work. (Of course, that was 13+ years ago, so he must have had something else going for him, but I think the accent was the primary draw.)

  4. I'm crazy for an English accent too. And I dated two guys from Ireland way back when. Such wonderful accents. Sigh...

  5. I guess it seems exotic and therefore sexy.

    I don't need Gerald Butler to talk, at all. ;)

  6. I don't care how they sound, as long as they have gigantic shoes, I will love them.
    My neighbor is Australian and I could sit there for hours listening to him talk about paint drying.

  7. I love an English accent. Love it. Or Australian. Even southern. A Spanish accent has never done it for me I'm surprised to say.

    And the description of looking at him like he's te last Popsicle? Brilliant!

    1. Marta, she was all licky lips and everything... xo

  8. ha. um. so i need to start working on an accent
    wonder what t would say if i just started talking in an accent...

  9. So funny. This is in full evidence with Juan Pablo on the next season of the Bachelor. All of America swoons!

  10. I like the Scottish accent - a hint of it - not too thick. Perfection.
    I've been around the German accent all my life and I do not find the German accent super swoonworthy.
    Hi, by the way. I have missed you and your words. I have been so stupid busy that I haven't been around as much as I'd like to be. I am so happy to finally have a little time and tell you I love coming here.

  11. LOL at Heidi's comment. As someone who has been surrounded by German relatives all my life I can understand. But any other kind of accent is infatuating to me. Spanish accents in particular are drool-worthy. Yum.



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