It depends on where you are
- I am a born and raised country boy working as a waiter putting myself through college. In my town we have a very large Hispanic population. With that said, they are mostly immigrants or first generation. I have found that almost all of my patrons are happy that I greet them in Spanish. This was not the case when I lived in Tucson and many of the people I encountered grew up in the United States. So I guess it depends on where you are and who you are talking to. I'll tell you one thing, when I lived in Germany and was very confused at the train station ... a German national came up to me and asked if I needed help -- in English. I didn't feel offended; I felt relieved. Funny how everyone keeps talking about using a different language to someone based on how they look is racist ... how about courteous?
- —Guest ricchione
Respect the language.
- I am from england and I find that when i go to Spain the natives are very pleased if you try to speak Spanish with them. A simple "gracias y por favor" goes a long way as does "buenos días y buenas tardes." It's also nice if you know who to address as "usted," "señor," "señora," "señorita." Showing a little respect for their language, country and culture goes a great distance. Yo creo que es importante.
- —Guest jordon u.k
Being overly friendly can be annoying
- It all depends on the situation: If you are providing a service, you should keep it professional unless you know that other person is not fluent in English. Speaking to someone else in Spanish can be seen as been too friendly, and that can be offensive. I personally find it uncalled for-friendliness and therefore annoying.
- —Guest Syl
It can be offensive and a bit racist
- I had a Hispanic best friend who grew up with me, and she and I will always go out to restauraunts and family reunions, but in nearly every occasion she will always be spoken down to when it came to shopping and dining. Usually it's the Caucasians who speak to her in Spanish. She speaks four languages and not one of them being Spanish, so it offended her for years to be talked down in a language she didn't speak. She knows French, Italian and Portuguese. I've never defended her once, because she would just reply back in a tongue that wasn't what the clerk, cashier or waitress was speaking. So the superior look my friend's face was priceless. My point being, don't assume a person's ethnicity right off their appearance. Its offensive, judgmental and a little racist. Just kindly ask. We live in a diverse country, and I understand from your perspectives, but just be considerate of others that may not look at you the same.
- —Guest Aria
Don't assume too much about people
- Remember, Spanish speakers can be of any race. And many people who are of "Hispanic" decent don't speak Spanish. (My last name is German, and no one assumes I speak German here in the U.S.) I speak Spanish nearly fluently, and I don't look "Latino," although my looks could be from Argentina or Uruguay. People that hear me speaking Spanish have assumed me to be Argentine. I gauge the situation. If someone is talking to me in English I continue in English. Starting out with a "hola" can come across as condescending; however, an honest attempt would be welcomed and most people are glad to help with vocabulary, grammar and you can help them with English.
- —Guest Joe
I am 100% offended!
- My parents were born in Puerto Rico and I was born in New York City ... far Rockaway a predominately "African-American" and Jewish neighborhood. I did not go around saying "Habari Rafiki" Swahili for Hello Friend ... so why do you assume I know Spanish. As far as "culture," I went to public school, grew up in NYC and we have no extended family, just us siblings watching "Happy Days" and "Brady Bunch," eating pizza and cold cuts. There were no Puerto Rico flags dangling from our window either. My father is a U.S. veteran and both of my parents did not speak Spanish or the native language of the Taino Indians or Afrikaans or Swahili. People are racists to assume. Do you assume your Italian neighbor speaks fluent Italian. Nope, it is just "Hispanic." Another way of segregation based on some language of conquerors of 120 years ago. Let us live in the present please.
- —Guest lizajenny9
Be careful not to be rude
- I think people will respond well to it. Just be considerate. I live in Spain and it can be very offensive when people speak to me in English despite the fact that I addressed them in Spanish first. Most of the time they're just trying to be friendly or they want to practice their English. However, they come across as if they're making the assumption that because I'm a guiri/gringo, I'm not able to speak Spanish, which is rude. Based on this, in order to be polite, you should explain that you want to practise the language. Otherwise you might come across as being quite arrogant.
- —Guest Jim
Don't be afraid
- Never be scared to speak Spanish. If you want to speak Spanish because you like the language and the people, then you will get a very warm approach. If you are non-Hispanic, or a gringo(a) like me, they will be amused and pleased with your efforts. If you try speaking with a Spanish immigrant who hasn't picked up the English yet, he or she will be very happy and you might make a language-learning buddy. The only time someone might be offended is if someone assumed they don't know English and act in irritated fashion. If you are nervous about approuching a native speaker try saying, "Si esta bien, me gustaria hablar espanol consigo asi yo puedo practicar el idioma." -Translation "If its okay, I would like to speak spanish with you so I can practice the language." Its nice and polite. I use it all the time especially if I do know the person speaks English as well.
- —Guest Ash
- Here in Kentucky most Latino adults were born elsewhere and their native language is Spanish. It's very unlikely you will offend them if your Spanish is passable. But when I visit my mom in Topeka, Kan., it's quite the opposite. Lots of Mexicans entered the U.S. to work on the railroads about three generations ago. Topeka was a railroad town, and now most Latino-appearing peeps were born and raised in the U.S. Many speak Spanish at home and English from the moment they leave the house. If you're not family, you speak English with them. They can get hostile if you don't.
They speak Spanish for a reason
- If you hear a group of people talking Spanish in a store or at a public place, they're probably about stuff they don't want you hear.
- —Guest Jose
- I moved to Puerto Rico because I am studying Spanish and I knew San Juan is a place where both Spanish and English are spoken. However, in the metropolitan areas when I speak in Spanish people speak back to me in English. It's very disheartening. It makes me feel sad and uncomfortable. It gives the impression that this is MY language, not yours, and MY Spanish is reserved only for my family and people who already know it. I'm more offended than the Spanish speaker is.
- —Guest TERRI
Don't assume by appearances
- In Los Angeles, there are many Spanish-speaking people, but I am careful to use Spanish only after hearing them speak Spanish. One can not assume a person is Spanish-speaking by appearance, and it could be insulting. Even after hearing them speak Spanish, I inform them that I am studying Spanish and "me gusta practicarlo." Usually, they are very nice about it.
- —Guest lizsussman
Just do it
- My Spanish is awful: I get the wrong endings and my verb ending are likely incorrect, but I smile, and really mean well, and I've never had anyone act upset or put upon because I've tried out what little I know. Just smile and say "Hola" and good morning, good afternoon or good evening. It gets a bit limited after that, but my reply always is that I was in a previous life, or will be in the next, Latin, or at least able to speak good Spanish. If I've ever insulted anyone, I did not realize it, but they should have realized I was trying to use some of the language they were privileged to learn growing up and I wasn't so blessed.
- —Guest Don R. Shaw Jr
- I personally find it very offensive when people expect that I speak anything but English. its not anyone's responsibility to speak any language other than English in the United States. Just because I'm Hispanic does not mean I speak Spanish. This is the United States and the national language here is English. No other country caters to other languages the way we do. I just figure people leave their countries for a reason. if you want a better life in the USA learn English. I personally find it very rude and a slap in the face as an American when people work, buy property, get free educations and benefits, but don't have enough respect to learn our national language.
- —Guest lpadilla
Sometimes offended by other Latinos!
- I am a native speaker, born in Tampa, of grandparents from Spain. I am light-skinned, fairly tall for a Latino, and have brown hair. Having lived in New Mexico for 37 years, I have often been offended by locals who assume I am not Hispanic because I don't look Mexican (i.e., I don't have Native American blood) and who sometimes have been rude to me on the assumption that I am a pushy gringo invading their intimate space by speaking their language. So far, I have avoided saying, "¡Mira, yo soy más español que tú!" but I have certainly been tempted. I think that speaking Spanish is considered more intimate than using English among U.S. native speakers, perhaps because Spanish is used within the family and English with outsiders. Also, since speaking Spanish was punished in school, many U.S. native speakers have become sensitive about using Spanish with outsiders. Interestingly, since my beard has gone white, I am now often addressed in Spanish, and even called "primo"! Go figure.
- —Guest esteban