Monday, January 01, 2007

Bizarre but Inventive

Flight Simulator

By Ian Gordon
Dec. 29, 2006

EL ALBERTO, Mexico—With Border Patrol sirens blaring behind them, Ceferino Mejía and Diana Guillén picked up their two small children and plunged into the ankle-deep mud. They had to get moving; La Migra had already detected their trail. Ceferino trudged ahead with little José Ángel, but Diana stopped short when the muck swallowed her left shoe. She struggled to hand over 6-year-old Carlos. "Hurry, mommy!" he squealed. The patrol car's blinding spotlight passed just overhead. Balancing on one submerged foot, Diana fished out her sneaker and pushed forward, running along the river to the rest of the group. At this rate, they'd never make it across.

But the Mexico City couple didn't bring their children to El Alberto, hundreds of miles from the nearest entry point into the United States, to head to Texas or California. Like the other middle-class urbanites in the group, they had paid $14 to have the migrant experience without the three days in the desert, without the fear, and, well, without the border. They were in the Mezquital Valley for a local eco-park's Caminata Nocturna, a faux crossing that is two parts haunted hayride, one part nature walk, and one part team-building activity, with a sprinkle of indigenous folklore thrown in for good measure. And after a brief moonlit respite on the bank of the Río Tula, they had to jump into the brambles when the sirens and flashing lights came down on them. [...]

These simulations started two years ago as a way to generate jobs and income for the 2,800 residents of El Alberto, an indigenous community that has been decimated by migration in recent years. The lure of the dollar has sapped the community of its men and its traditional Hñahñu customs. Fewer children speak Hñahñu than in the past, and the town looks like many other places in Mexico and Central America supported by remittances; everywhere you go, you see stickers for the popular Los Angeles morning radio show Piolín por la Mañana (hosted by migrant Eduardo Sotelo), [and] new pickup trucks with Nevada and Arizona license plates...


Blogger Duck said...

A disappearing culture! Quick, send in the UN Bureau of Cultural Preservation! They'll cleanse these poor indigenous people of Western cultural contamination in no time.

Speaking of dying languages, this article on ALDaily says it's a good thing.

January 01, 2007 3:43 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I agree that it's not a horrible thing. The sooner that we all speak one pidgin Mother Tongue, the better.

January 02, 2007 1:18 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

What does McWhorter mean about Hawaiian getting space in the press?

There is no newspaper in Hawaiian any more, no popular press in Hawaiian. It has some existence as a spoken language, but there are not printed instructions to do anything in Hawaiian.

However, there will never be one universal language. In theory, the second- and third-largest English-speaking nations are India and Nigeria. It is not easy for me to communicate with most 'English speakers' from either of those countries.

Same with Spanglish, Taglish etc.

January 04, 2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

While I agree that it's unlikely that there will ever be one "universal" accent, if we all speak varients of the same language then at least it's possible to quickly learn to understand a near-unintelligible version.

Much the same way that speakers of Portuguese can understand 80% of what a Spanish speaker is saying, and a Spanish speaker can understand half of Portuguese.

January 04, 2007 9:00 AM  

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