Maria Erazo Show: Slang and Cultural Expressions

Approx. time Expression Explanation
1:10 Michoacán, Mexico in southwestern Mexico, the state between Mexico City and the Pacific Ocean
1:30 a good little trek  A trek is a long, difficult journey, usually done on foot.  Speakers of English often use understatement to make a point.  In fact, a driving trip of 40 hours is not “little” at all.  This comment was Alan’s equivalent of saying, “Wow, that’s a long way to go.”
1:55 Your father drank.  Alan said that Maria’s father drank and also physically abused her mother. The question, “Do you drink?” does not refer to all liquids; it means “Do you drink alcohol?”  To say that someone drinks is sometimes a polite way of saying this person drinks too much alcohol.
3:50 the “adult” world around us  Alan raised two fingers on each hand and moved them up and down twice on the word “adult.”  
These “air quotes” are a visual way of putting a spoken word into quotation marks to show this word has a special meaning.  In writing, the quotation marks can be translated as “so-called,” meaning that the word may not have the real meaning they are supposed to.
5:13 make it or die to succeed or die
5:20 wasn’t an option There was only one choice.
6:27 deport to send out of the country
6:40 be on the look-out  Maria said her family had to be on the look-out for U.S. immigration police.  This is another way of saying “to look out for.”  It means to remain watchful, always looking around to see if you can detect I.C.E. agents who will deport you.
6:55 a white Suburban  Maria said I.C.E. agents wear green uniforms and drive white Suburbans.  The largest sport utility vehicle (SUV) built by Chevrolet is a model called the Suburban.  It has the size and frame of a large pick-up truck but is designed like a multi-passenger station wagon.
8:58 fast-forward to jump ahead in the story
9:46 I got mine. I have everything that I need. I’m satisfied.
10:15 mentoring young women Maria said she mentors female students in the local high schools in her free time.  In the U.S., the culture of volunteerism is very strong.  The belief is that people have an obligation to help others in the community and make it a better place to live.  Because of its Christian heritage, Americans are often reminded of the line from the Bible that says, "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." (Luke 12:48)
11:00 invest in me contribute teaching and resources for my improvement
11:17 youth groups organizations for young people’s activities, support, and learning
12:05 persistent not giving up
12:20 strong self-identity have a strong sense of your values and qualities
13:56 acculturated trained in the rules of the culture
13:58 dominate women have power over women without letting them decide
14:01 affirmation giving positive messages about a person’s value
14:06 high accolades  praising very strongly in public
15:43 take it for granted own and use something without fully appreciating it
16:20 “In Search of My Father”!books/cnec 

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.