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Mi Casa es Su Casa Tambien!
August 24, 2005 7:21 PM   Subscribe

How did the phrase "mi casa, su casa" become such a common phrase in America?
posted by billysumday to Society & Culture (27 answers total)
 
It was one of those phrases I learned early on in Spanish I in high school. I suspect many others did, as well.
posted by cmonkey at 7:31 PM on August 24, 2005


if, y'know, they didn't grow up knowing such a phrase.
posted by cmonkey at 7:33 PM on August 24, 2005


Mexican restaurant adverts maybe.
posted by Carbolic at 7:52 PM on August 24, 2005


Never as a linguist did I hear it a once.
posted by buzzman at 8:45 PM on August 24, 2005


Spanish has a surprisingly large role in American English. I say "surprisingly" because most Americans don't realize it. It has less of a role in British English, though the red-faced white-bellied Brit holidaymakers who roll up on the Spanish beaches every year do bring some of the language home. For Yanks, hundreds of years of proximity and intercultural mingling have had a greater effect.

There are any number of terms of Spanish origin in widespread American usage that are less familiar, or mostly unfamiliar, to Anglophones elsewhere. Maybe somebody can make a list; it's too late at night for me.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:48 PM on August 24, 2005


macho
hombre
lassoo
rodeo
patio
'mi casa es su casa'
'vaya con dios'
'que sera, sera'
amigo

ah, hell, everybody know the first "american" cowboys were Mexicans :)
posted by vacapinta at 8:58 PM on August 24, 2005


I learned it as mi casa es su casa, which does sound cooler than the direct English translation: "My house is your house."

And some of these "Mexicanisms" started out as titles of songs sung by Gringos: "Vaya Con Dios" - Les Paul & Mary Ford, "Que Sera, Sera" - Doris Day.
posted by wendell at 9:10 PM on August 24, 2005


(I shouldn't say 'started out' - they were POPULARIZED by the songs)
posted by wendell at 9:11 PM on August 24, 2005


People say it here in Australia, too. I've always thought its popularity here was due almost solely to its use in "Pulp Ficition"(where that ginger-haired drug dealer played by an actor whose name I can't remember says it to Vincent). I doubt whether many of the people who use it in Australia would have even heard the phrase before they saw the film. I realise this doesn't STRICTLY help you regarding America, but ... you know...
posted by bunglin jones at 9:20 PM on August 24, 2005


wendell may be on to something.
posted by hilker at 10:23 PM on August 24, 2005


While wendell may have learned it with the "es", the aphorism is truly "Mi case, su casa", even here in Spain. As for it's popularity - I guess popular culture (songs, Pulp Fiction, et al) will have had something to do with it, but I guess the reality is this - people are pretentious - they like to slip foreign language phrases or words into what they say, and "Mi casa, su casa" is really easy for most people to remember and it conveys an attractive "Aren't I generous?" attitude while saying "And I'm clever and multilingual too"...
posted by benzo8 at 11:46 PM on August 24, 2005


ginger-haired drug dealer played by an actor whose name I can't remember

dude, that was Stoltz! I hear he & James Spader are like best buds, which cracks me up...

Oh, right. This may not help *much* but I saw Bill Burroughs use "vaya con dios" in a letter from the 1940s so it's at least that old. My second generation Mexican grandma (from Michigan) never used "mi casa es su casa": I first heard the phrase when I was 15 and a friend's mom (2nd generation California Mexican) said it to me. I said, "Como?" and she laughed, hard. Bad Mexican, bad!
posted by ibeji at 6:24 AM on August 25, 2005


The simplest explanation is that we basically took over a third of Mexico in the 1840s. If "mi casa, su casa" is a common expression in Spain, it would most likely also be common in Mexico.

To add to vacapinta's list, I believe "mosey" and "vamoose" of the standard American cowboy dialect are generally derivative of "vamos"
posted by LionIndex at 7:55 AM on August 25, 2005


I have never heard a single Spanish speaker say "mi casa, su casa" or "que será, será", or any variation, in South, Central or North America or Spain.
posted by signal at 8:09 AM on August 25, 2005


I think that maybe "Pulp Fiction" comes closest to explaining why it's so prevalent and common among people of at least my generation (late twenties).

Never as a linguist did I hear it a once.
posted by buzzman at 8:45 PM PST on August 24


Wow. Having lived in Indiana, Ohio, New York, Chicago, Berkeley, and LA, I've got to ask: what do linguists do? I heard it everywhere I went, from lots of different kinds of people.
posted by billysumday at 9:30 AM on August 25, 2005


What signal said. I have heard the term "Esta en su casa" ("You are in your home") but never, as a Mexican-American who has grown up partly in Mexico (parents born and raised there) have I heard "mi casa es su casa"
posted by vacapinta at 9:31 AM on August 25, 2005


billysumday writes 'I heard it everywhere I went, from lots of different kinds of people.'

Did any of those people speak Spanish fluently? Not snarking, I honestly want to know.
posted by signal at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2005


No, none of them did.
posted by billysumday at 10:54 AM on August 25, 2005


Also, I've heard that "hoosegow" is a derivative of "juzgado."
posted by escabeche at 11:27 AM on August 25, 2005


but never, as a Mexican-American who has grown up partly in Mexico (parents born and raised there) have I heard "mi casa es su casa"

From some of your other posts, I've gathered that you've spent time in San Diego, right? And you never heard it here? I hear it all the time, and I certainly heard it prior to Pulp Fiction's release.
posted by LionIndex at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2005


Also, what's the difference between a lasso and a "lassoo", mentioned by vacapinta above? As far as I can tell, the latter is a misspelling of the former, but it's not uncommon.

Oh, damn these rider questions.
posted by gramschmidt at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2005


I have never heard a single Spanish speaker say "mi casa, su casa" or "que será, será", or any variation, in South, Central or North America or Spain.

Me neither (with the proviso that I've never been to Spain). This is not a Spanish phrase that migrated into English, it's a pseudo-Spanish phrase created by Americans. Like the French saying le talkie-walkie.
posted by languagehat at 3:04 PM on August 25, 2005


From some of your other posts, I've gathered that you've spent time in San Diego, right?

Sorry, yes. I heard it all the time. I should be clearer.

This is a common phrase uttered by non-Spanish speakers and I've heard it in San Diego and in the general cultural sphere long before Pulp Fiction.

But I was seconding signal in that this phrase is not used by native Spanish speakers, that is, you don't hear it either by Spanish speakers in the US nor is it used in Spanish-speaking countries.

I dont know where the phrase came from but I'll assume it is from some movie or something. It does have a nice ring to it but its probably an invention from a book or movie or a saying by some character.
posted by vacapinta at 3:04 PM on August 25, 2005


Also, with its use of two possessives it might have been an example in a well-known primer:

mi casa
tu casa
su casa
etc.
and now let's practice with a sentence: "mi casa es su casa"

Although, unlike languagehat, I am willing to consider the possibility that this is an antiquated Mexican phrase which has passed out of common usage. I'll ask my Mexican grandparents what they think of it.
posted by vacapinta at 3:12 PM on August 25, 2005


On this page, for example, (by the Mexican language academy?) its listed as a Mexican regionalism.

Even if true, however, that does not answer the original question of how it entered into common usage in the U.S.
posted by vacapinta at 3:18 PM on August 25, 2005


vacapinta, thanks for linking to that page: 1) because it reminds me I shouldn't shoot off my mouth so confidently without checking to make sure I know what I'm talking about, and 2) because it has this satisfying entry:
¡carajo! (De carajo 'pene, miembro viril', que es la fuente de varias exclamaciones eufemísticas como caramba, caray, caracoles.) interj. que denota gran enfado o disgusto. | del carajo. 1. loc. adj. Malo, difícil, complicado. || 2. loc. adv. Mal. Compárese (de la) chingada. || llevárselo a alguien el carajo. loc. Enojarse. Compárese (llevárselo a alguien la) chingada. || ¡me lleva el carajo! exclam. de protesta o sorpresa. Compárese (¡me lleva la) chingada! Son expresiones malsonantes.
"Malsonantes"—what a delicate word for such an indelicate word!
posted by languagehat at 6:54 PM on August 25, 2005


A quick search of Google Groups shows neither mi casa, su casa or mi casa es su casa showing up before 1996, which tends to support the idea that this is a 90s fad. It may well have been popularized by Pulp Fiction, although I swear I remember some oily TV character using it before that (Dan Fielding on Night Court?).

From a bit of googling it does seem like mi casa es su casa definitely has an intentional Southwestern gloss, as a kind of tourist slogan in places like San Diego and Austin. Commercial usage probably helped.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 PM on September 2, 2005


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