Arturo


Arturo was another one of my Mexican classmates at Holy Cross School. He looked like your typical Mexican. He was short and stocky with black hair and brown eyes. And he spoke English with a Mexican accent. There was no mistaking him for Lithuanian. He was very charismatic so he always had many friends and even more girlfriends. More girlfriends by his calculations. Any girl who talked to him was his girlfriend. But a lot of girls did talk to him because they liked the way he talked. In class, he usually knew the answer, but sometimes he mispronounced words like shoes. He would always “choes.”  He couldn’t make the “sh” sound to pronounce shoes correctly. He would make the “ch” sound instead. So words like “church” and “choose” should have been easy for him, but they caused him just as much trouble. I explained to him that all he had to do was reverse the sounds of ch and sh. I helped him practice, but he never got the hang of it. On Sunday, Arturo went to “shursh” because he would “shoose” to go. I once went with him to buy some shoes and he narrowed his selection to two pairs of shoes. For some strange reason, he thought I had excellent taste in choes, I mean shoes, so he asked me to help him buy some choes. Anyway, he holds out the two pairs of shoes for me to inspect and says, “Whish choes chould I shoose?” I said, “Choose? Which shoes?” He said, “Yeah, whish choes?” I was getting frustrated by our interchange because I usually had this kind of conversation with my father. Not about choosing shoes, but about how to pronounce words in English. My father had trouble pronouncing the word “world.” To this day, he can’t pronounce “world.” There were too many sounds in one word for my father. Arturo’s only problem was differentiating between two sounds: sh and ch. Now that I think of it, he couldn’t say chanclas, either. That typical Mexican word for flip-flops became shanclas.

Whish choes chould I shoose?

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.

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