Tarnished, I Tell You!

The Argentine, depending on his mood, thinks of himself as belonging to the glorious head of Latin America. Other South Americans sniff at that, as if he were from the rear nether regions of the continent. That does not daunt him; he is essential snob. If he feels strong, the Argentine considers himself the German of South America; if he feels rich, he is the Briton; finally, if he feels neither stronger nor richer than, say, a Chilean or Brazilian or Venezuelan, he will feel superior in a French sort of way.

I mention this because I've been keeping up with the sporadic commentary on Jorge Luis Borges at John Barach's blog. I don't know much Borges, but what of him I've read and what re him has made him likable to me. Because of this, I can't bring myself to say his name in Spanish. He probably wouldn't appreciate it in me, but I'm not willing to concede to him his Argentinianness. His name is not really one that can be Anglicized (which would be more proper than what I actually do), so I pronounce it as if it were Portuguese.

Argentianians are very proud of the northern European strain they've got. They were of almost purely Spanish stock up to the 19th century, since they killed off nearly all the Indians and historically had few African slaves. In the 19th century the general populace mingled with Englishmen and Scots and Welshmen who came down due to a gold rush (or two or three) and railroad projects, while the urbane mingled with the Englishmen (and eventually, Germans) who were busy projecting their nation's power into South America and the south Atlantic. Englishmen were all over South America with their Navy and economic pressure during most of the 19th century, but many actually moved to Argentina and Chile, so that it is not uncommon to find names like McGregor attached to men with red hair and blue eyes, but no English at all. In '94 I was down in Chile with my grandfather, who took me to a few of the prospecting sites his mining company was exploring in Peru and Chile. One of the sites was on an island south of Tierra del Fuego, at Cape Horn; we were flown there by a Chilean Navy chopper from Punta Arenas, and our pilot was one of the specimens I had described: built for rugby, tall and heavyset, with ruddy cheeks and blond hair. He spoke no English, despite his very Scottish name.

That's a bit of a tangent I just went off on, which hopefully you found interesting, but the point of it was simply that there really is a lot of English and northern European influence in Argentina, but that's no reason at all to be a snob...in fact, I think it's kind of creepy. So *ppphbbht!*

And hey, if you didn't like this rant, simply discount me because I'm Brazilian. Now there's a mutual dislike that will endure for a long while: the dislike brazil wood and silver have for each other.