Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arizona debates removing Spanish city names

Arizonans have realized they have passed their law requiring police to check the papers of suspected illegal immigrants too late--uninvited Mexicans gave Spanish names to most of the cities and geographic features in the state, including the largest cities. The state legislature is working to undo this cultural vandalism.

State senator Russel Pearce explains how he realized the need for the change, "I was driving home from shooting prairie dogs with my four year old granddaughter and as we drove through Mesa, she asked, 'Grandpa, what does Mesa mean?' and I didn't know. I didn't have a good answer for her. Can you imagine how humiliating that was?"

While Pearce was telling the story to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was giving a cavity search to a Hispanic he suspected of being an illegal immigrant, and the suspect told Pearce that "mesa" was the Spanish word for "table" and that lots of place names in Arizona were Spanish. The suspect lost consciousness and was loaded in the back of a truck to be dumped over the border before he could elaborate.

Pearce then examined a map with several of his colleagues and realized they did not know the meaning of most of the place names in the state, and decided that they must be changed so that other parents and grandparents would not be embarrassed in the same way Pearce was, or worse, have to tell their children that a place, maybe even the city they live in, was named by Mexicans.

One passing Democrat said some of the names were Native American, which further enraged the conservatives. "We killed them, we killed damn near ALL of them," one legislator said. "Why should we be reminded that they used to be squatting on our state before we got here and undo all that killing?"

State legislators are divided on how to remedy the language problem though.

Half want to simply change the present names to English words that sound like the current ones. Tucson would become Two songs, Phoenix would become Fee Nix, Mesa would become Messy, and so on.

The other half, including Pearce, want to translate the offending foreign names. Pearce said, ''Phoenix is some kind of dead bird that comes back to life after being burned to ashes in their religion, so we would call the city "Ashy Bird." Tucson would become Volcano Bottom, and Tempe would become Tampon.

"Once we fix this, we will have to figure out how to deal with other states that have the same problem like New Mexico, California, Rhode Island," said Pearce. "We will probably boycott states until they follow our example and change to real American names. They don't seem to understand what this country is about."

Legislators are also considering keeping one token Spanish name to acknowledge that some Mexicans come here legally and know their place. "We might even change the name of Phoenix to a different Spanish word, 'Pendejo,' which my legal Hispanic friends tells me means 'beautiful pendant.'"


Nancy Green said...

Okay, I was with you until you dissed Rhode Island. What could be more Anglo-Saxon? I have no idea who Rhode was, our main guy was Roger Williams. Don't listen to anyone who calls it Rogue's Island, that's a mis-spelling. We are making good progress in eliminating the Narragansett names. Occapawtuxet Road was changed to Airport Road, so no one has to struggle to pronounce it.

Boggus Wartus said...

Brilliant. What's the betting that this will go flying straight over the heads of most Americans, as it did with Nancy?

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if USers would pronouce correctly the names they give streets...or avoid names that they can't be bothered to pronouce correctly--maybe only simple ones, like Oak, Green, Moon. I speak Spanish, so I had no problem asking for Ximeno (Heemeno) St. in Long Beach, CA. Nobody knew what I was talking about. Finally someone figured out that I was searching for Eximeno!

Gray said...

Yes - one could translate these 'foreign' names into the bastardized British English used in this country.
Hence Willamette Valley would become Valley of Illness (or Death - there are varied translations regarding how this came from the biological genocide inflicted on the natives by the "rightful" white civilization) or the Willamette River could become River of Illness (or Death). Which is pretty much true these days.