One way that a Spanish-speaker can tell where another Spanish-speaker is from if through the pronunciation of the “ll”, which is found in words like “pollo” (chicken).

In Argentina it is a “zh” like the “zh” in “garage” or the ج in Modern Standard Arabic. Thus “pollo” is “pozh-zho” . In Peruvian cities, like in Mexico, it is often pronounced as a “y”. For example, “poy-yo”.

However, when the speaker’s mother tongue is Quechua or if they grew up in an area with lots of Quechua influence, they will say “poy-lo”. That’s because the “ll” in Quechua is a “y” that suddenly transforms into an “l” through some major tongue-twisting. After taking Quechua for two weeks and hearing it pronounced this way, I have begun speaking this way, too.

This “ll” pronunciation could also be the basis of discrimination. If one pronounces the “ll” in the Quechua influenced manner, then the listener could believe that this person came from a pueblo and is a campesino (farmer) or is indigenous, and as such, they are subject to the stereotypes associated with this identity.

Stereotypes of campesinos/indigenous people include: uneducated, poor, and lacking good manner. I’ve been told this and I have heard it expressed unthinkingly in conversation.

For example, I once told a worker in my family’s café that I was going to live with a family in a pueblo for a few days in Colca Valley. He asked me why, and I said because my program was about globalization and indigenous people. He responded with an “Oh, so you are studying poor people”.

Also, one time a husband was eating and he splashed some of his soup. It almost landed in his wife’s bowl. She responded by laughing and teasingly called him a campesino.

Sometimes I wonder what people think of me when I say the “ll” in the “yl” manner. Obviously I’m a extranjera (foreigner), so I wouldn’t necessarily be labeled in a negative way. I think most people are probably just curious, as to why I would have adopted such a way of talking.

(while writing this, my family’s puppy tried getting on my bed the entire time. Here is a picture.)


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