Although most people on the east coast (and many people here) haven’t realized it yet, Eric Garcetti was elected Mayor of Los Angeles on Tuesday. I’m pleased. I voted for him, and despite the fiscal and governance difficulties that he faces, I think he will do a good job as much any Los Angeles mayor can.
Much of the media has been taken up with Garcetti’s status as the City’s first Jewish mayor. In fact, he is quite the hybrid, much like the city itself: his Mom is Jewish, his Dad (former LA County DA Gil Garcetti) is of Italian descent, but the family lived in Mexico for a couple of generations, making him also something of a Latino. Perfect for a Los Angeles politician.
But he is going to have to do better than this if he wants to get real credibility among the Latino population (which he carried in the election). Addressing an east side audience, Garcetti declared:
Soy uno de vosotros.
That literally means, “I am one of you,” and the notion is standard politician fare. Notice something? For “you”, Garcetti used vosotros, a form that is perfectly grammatically correct, but is basically only used in Spain. It supposedly means something like “you guys” in my understanding: it is the plural form of tu. But I have never heard it used in Latin America or among Latinos in the United States.
A colleague of mine learned how to speak Spanish in Spain, and then went to Argentina on an exchange. He used vosotros, and, he says, “my hosts thought it was absolutely adorable, like speaking with an English accent.” And that’s with Argentinians, who have their own series of strange words, and make every effort to dissociate themselves from the rest of Latin America. (See Mario Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter for more). The closest comparison I could make would be something like, “Hey — I’m down with thee.”
In fact, this is such an obvious mistake I’m wondering whether it was reported correctly. But I’ve now heard it from different places. Anyone else have a different take — has anyone heard it used among Latinos in the United States? We would love to hear from thee.