Mexican Manners

Now another installment of a section I like to call “Mexican Manners”.  One of the many fun,  interesting things when it comes to learning about other cultures is studying manners and customs. If you want to impress Mexicans friends/acquaintances, this section will provide some tips for you.

Today’s Tip is: WATCH YOUR BACK.

I think this is a custom observed in most Hispanic cultures, not sure if it’s observed in other cultures, though. I’ve been with people who aren’t Hispanic and don’t follow the “watch your back” rule.  They didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just a custom they don’t observe. In Mexican  culture  though it’s an important rule. Why? Because,  it is considered very rude to have your back turned to someone.  This is called “dar la espalda” = give someone your back. It’s considered  as a sign of  ignoring someone, a physical affront…etc.  In all fairness, there are times when you must turn away from someone to talk to someone else, and certain situations when due to positioning, having your back face someone can’t be helped.  For politeness sake though,  it’s best to keep the location of your back in mind and try to position yourself  at an angle where you’re not directly turning your back to anyone. Or if you do turn your back, excuse yourself & try and try not to do  it for too long.

Mexican Manners

“If you have ever watched a movie made in the 1940s and early 1950s, you’ll have an idea of the manners that Mexicans use. It is all based on “respect.” We consider Mexican manners to be “formal.” Compared to our American casual manners, the Mexicans are very formal.” -From Manners  in Mexico by Mark McGrew April 2005 Guadalajara-Lakeside Volume 21, Number 8

For Mexicans manners are held in very high regard & are  treated with utmost importance within in our culture. Regardless of social position or the amount of education received a good upbringing(manners) is considered the most valued  inheritance that every parent passes down, an inheritance that every family holds dear. In Spanish to say someone is rude , the following phrase is often used:  “mal educado”  literally= wrongly( inadequately/ poorly) educated. Parents always teach their kids that manners will reflect not only upon them, but that it will also reflect upon the family and their upbringing. Often times moms will scold their kids when they exhibit poor manners by saying “People will think you had a mother who didn’t care or perhaps even that you didn’t have a mom”

For those who : have friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, coworkers, etc.. who are Mexican & want to interact with them and share in their culture or for those studying Spanish or just interested in learning about other cultures. I wanna start a new section called “Mexican Manners” &  try to add  facts, information on customs and manners found in Mexican culture.

Let’s learn some Spanish: About Good Manners

When learning a language  who isn’t  eager and excited to learn what will make you sound cool, fun, and friendly, so that you can make new friends &  enjoy communicating with others in your new language?  Well, nothing makes a person cooler than great manners, & so today that’s what we will be learning about. Today’s lesson specifically talks about one little word: “Qué.” While it might be common knowledge that “what” in Spanish = “Qué”(pronounced Keh). The meaning & usage of this word as it pertains to Spanish is sometimes ,not entirely understood. In Spanish missuse of the word  can mean sounding very rude.  Many times I’ve seen on TV the depiction of various characters who speak Spanish(Mexican more often than not), upon listening to another language, umm…say English he/she will automatically respond in a stereotypical voice “Qué??!”

It truly is a most disturbing sound to hear. It’s  a  method used for the purpose of augmenting  inanity, boorishness when it comes to  the portrayal of that character.  The reality of it is that, ““Qué” would not really the first thing someone would say in Spanish. Why? Well, because manners are held in very high regard & are  treated with utmost importance  in Hispanic culture, regardless of social position or the amount of education received.  When you are told something  & did not hear or understand, the polite way to respond is by using the phrase “Mande usted” (mah-deh-oo-steh-ehd) the formal version or “Mande”(shortened version).  The word “mande” literally  means= “You may request/ instruct.”  In essence it means excuse me. Only it has more of a : beg your pardon, excuse me what was that, say that again please,  I’m sorry I  couldn’t hear, but if you’d be so kinds a to repeat you have my attention”…etc  kind of connotation to it.

Another time when “Mande” is used is, when being addressed or called over.  Say your boss has decided to give you an assignment &  so he addresses you “Mrs. X come over for a minute”  You would respond by saying “Mande usted Señor/Señora” = Yes boss(sir/ mam).  At a store if a shopper would adress a clerk , the shopper would also receive a  “mande usted.” Another example, Say your mom calls you into the kitchen . You go to the kitchen and say “What?”, because you’re used to the “what”   in the English expressions: “what is it/what’s the matter?”  It’s quite likely that you’ll receive the following scolding : “What do you mean Qué? Don’t be so rude/disrespectful, you don’t say “Qué, you say Mande usted”. “Mande” in  This sense= yes mom, you called, Yes ma’m. “Qué?” does have it’s place in Spanish however,  “Qué?” alone is used as more of an interjection than a question, and it’s used to express: surprise/shock /or confusion in a  direct, and explicit manner, thus using it alone sounds rude at times.  The moral of the story? One little word can mean the difference between sounding abrasive & disrespectful, or friendly, and well mannered.

Chido Spanish:(An intresting closer look)

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Do you know the phrase for  “excuse me” in Spanish??

It’s “Con (su) permiso”  this literally  means = With (your)Permission.

It’s a simple little phrase &  if you learn it you will sound very : educated, polite,  and impress others with your Spanish.

“Con permiso”  is a very common,  and versatile expression.  Let’s explore it’s usage.

#1 It can be used to excuse yourself to get by someone, especially when people are talking, and you must interrupt them to get by.  Sometimes people will add the word “SU” the formal or extra polite form of  the word YOU= Con su permiso.  When you say this  often times you will hear as a response : “Propio” =Proper (Meaning you are proper, it is proper… you’re polite, how polite of you, of course go ahead…etc) Or “Pase usted” = Please,go ahead, Do go on by

#2 Another use for “con permiso” is when entering a home.  = “Excuse me, I’m coming in”.

#3 :  If you are doing something with people whom you should be respectful towards such as talking to your girlfriend/ boyfriend’s parents,  a boss, teacher etc… When leaving it is poper to excuse yourself  by saying “Con Permiso”=  “I will be going now”.

#4  Can be used to mean “May I” or “excuse me” when partaking or making use of something i.e. taking food, making use of a telephone…etc

Compermiso is basically an “excuse me.” It can be casual or formal depending on they way you use it.  For example: If  you are watching T.V , and someone happens to stand in front of it (sound familiar? LOL It does for me. I have a friend who always gets so intrigued with stuff on T.V that he ends up standing right next to it =P ) you can say “con permiso” to ask them to clear the way. In  colloquial Spanish , the phrase has been shortened to “CON PER” it is oftten said runned together “comper” this version is very fun, friendly,  & casual. It is often used by youngsters. If the T.V situation should occur and there is no response lol ( the person’s being  a goof, or hypnotized by the boob tube) you can switch compermiso to “Com-per!” = ex-cuse me!!”  lol

Another form of “Con permiso” is = Con permisito .This is the diminutive version.  The diminutive in Spanish is not always used to make things small. It is very very commonly used  to soften words or indicate affection. Simply put, when you want to sound cute or make a request come out in a extra nice tone, rather than a commanding one you can use it. Saying conpermisito would connote a meaning of  “with your dear, caring, benevolent, wonderful permission”

Examples:   A guy could say this to a girl when he wants to get by & sound cute or extra polite. Another example would be, say  you are late and are trying to get to your seat at a theater , or class…etc  The diminutive “compermisito” can soften the embarrassing / rude factor of the situation.