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Speaking the Same Language 

A cut-and-save guide

Ay, caramba! Mint Hill and Landis are considering ordinances that would make English their "official language." As reported in the Observer, Landis alderman James Furr proposed the new law for his town, explaining that he was inspired by a ride down Cannon Boulevard during which he "could only read half the signs that were up." You would think he would have more pressing concerns, considering that Landis' police chief was arrested for child pornography two weeks ago, but hey, everyone's got their priorities. As for Mint Hill, this is the place that keeps sending Bill James back to the County Commission, so what can you expect?

At least those were my first reactions. But the more I thought about the proposed ordinances, the more they made sense. The fact is, if everyone in Landis or Mint Hill spoke English, the result would be better communication all around, and that's got to be good for those communities, right? I can't tell you how many times I've heard people complain about not being able to understand the folks in Mint Hill or Landis. And they weren't talking about immigrants. There was, for instance, the car mechanic in Landis who told a customer to "scoot her up a tad," and then there was the Mint Hill waitress who asked a visitor, "Yoant-ny banana puddin'?" It can get pretty confusing to an outsider.

In order to restore linguistic peace to Landis and Mint Hill, I propose that all residents of both those fine burgs start speaking English exclusively. If you're Latino, take English lessons. And if you speak those burgs' dominant language, which we'll refer to here as "MintHillian," well, you'll need to take English lessons, too.

I realize my plan could be expensive and time-consuming, so I'm here to give everyone a head start. I've put together a list of commonly heard MintHillian words and phrases, along with the Spanish equivalent and the proper English translation. Cut out the list and post it on your refrigerator. Or frigorifico. Or frigidaire. I hope this helps. Hopefully, immigrants and natives alike will soon be communicating more easily and become like one big happy family. Or familia. Or fambly.

MintHillian: I heard 'AT
Spanish: Estoy de acuerdo contigo
English: I agree with you

MintHillian: At-TAR, as in "Gimme some at-TAR banana puddin'."
Spanish: Aquel
English: That

MintHillian: Yoant-ny?
Spanish: ¿Quieres?
English: Do you want any?

MintHillian: AM-a-lance
Spanish: Ambulancia
English: Ambulance

MintHillian: Yo-NEET?
Spanish: ¿Gustas comer?
English: Do you want to eat?

MintHillian: Tel-u-WUT
Spanish: Escuchar
English: Listen to me

MintHillian: Rat-cheer
Spanish: Aqui
English: Here

MintHillian: Stay rat-cheer
Spanish: No se mueva
English: Don't move

MintHillian: O-var, as in "Him and his wife moved way o-var."
Spanish: Alli
English: There

MintHillian: Vi-EE-ners
Spanish: Chorizitos
English: Small sausages

MintHillian: Wawst
Spanish: Avispa
English: Wasp

MintHillian: YUNG-un
Spanish: Niño or niña
English: Child

MintHillian: Wah-CHIS, as in "Wah-CHIS, I can cut a flip."
Spanish: Mira me
English: Look at me

MintHillian: Co-coler
Spanish: Coca-Cola
English: Coca-Cola

MintHillian: Sebm-lebm
Spanish: La tiendita
English: Convenience store

MintHillian: I-moan, as in "I-moan go to the sebm-lebm."
Spanish: Yo voy a hacer algo
English: I am going to

MintHillian: Yaw-rat?
Spanish: ¿Esta bien?
English: Are you all right?

MintHillian: Wer-yat?
Spanish: ¿Donde esta?
English: Where are you?

MintHillian: AR-gy
Spanish: Argumentar
English: Argue

MintHillian: BAB-list
Spanish: Baptista
English: Baptist

MintHillian: Rernt
Spanish: Arruinen
English: Ruined

MintHillian: Retard
Spanish: Jubilado
English: Retired

MintHillian: Pert-near
Spanish: Casi
English: Almost

MintHillian: Fall off
Spanish: Bejas de peso
English: Lose weight

MintHillian: Draw up, as in "If you wash that shirt in hot water, it'll draw up."
Spanish: Encojer
English: Shrink

MintHillian: Furner
Spanish: Extranjero
English: Foreigner

MintHillian: Fur-peese
Spanish: Camino lajos
English: A long way

MintHillian: Dest
Spanish: Escritorio
English: Desk

MintHillian: Rinch
Spanish: Enjuague
English: Rinse

MintHillian: Shiv-alay
Spanish: Tchebby
English: Chevrolet

MintHillian: Thoo, as in "I'm thoo with my homework."
Spanish: Termino
English: Finished

MintHillian: Plum
Spanish: Muy or Mucho
English: Very

To contact John Grooms, e-mail him at

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