22 April 2011

Honk, Honk, Tweet, Tweet

Reposted from Engadget.com
The other day, I was woken up shortly after 5:00 AM by the sound of honking from next door.  Without consulting Wikipedia or Merriam-Webster for the definition of stereotype, I pose the question: are stereotypes completely false and racist, or are they are an exaggeration of the truth?  Or are are they simply a coincidental overlap between an actual reality and a presumption?

For example, that morning when I was woken up by honking, my first thought was, "It must be the Mexicans next door." I had two reasons to believe this: 1) they've done it before and 2) no other neighbor on the street has engaged in this behavior. In fact, the only people in my lifetime that I have ever known to honk from the street while the car is still running, rather than get out of the car and knock on the door, are Mexicans.  (I've seen non-Mexicans do this in the movies, but that doesn't count.)

Is it a stereotype to say Mexicans honk to get someone to come out of the house?  I'm Mexican, and I don't do it. But the only people I've ever known to do it are Mexicans.  In that case, maybe you could say, "Mexicans like to honk instead of ringing the doorbell. But not all Mexicans do this."  What's your experience with this annoying habit?

Ten minutes later, after persistent honking, I was wide awake and had no hope of falling back asleep to wake up to my alarm set for 7:30 AM.  So I lay there, eyes wide open in the dark, watching the sun rise and listening to the birds sing.  I started to hear the variations in the singing.  Some went chirp-chirp, others coo-coo, others tweet-tweet, and some even went pio-pio, the way they do in Spanish.

I wish I could have identified the types of birds by their singing.  Do birds in Spain and Latin America say "pio-pio" because that kind of bird was the first one heard by a Spanish-speaker?  Should Twitter in Spanish be "Piotear"?

p.s. if you're still wondering about honking, Ask A Mexican (aka Gustavo Arellano) gives a good answer:

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