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View Full Version : Please explain this stereotype


Zelmph(!)
12-19-2002, 09:29 PM
On TV, characters who are Hispanic (usually Mexican, as far as I can tell) can usually be counted on to greet people they don't really like by saying "yo essay." Generally, it's something like "Yo essay, where's that money you owe me?"

In my three years of living in L.A., I've never heard anyone actually use this term. Well, I did hear it once, but the person using it was just as clueless about its origin as I am. So now I turn to the teeming millions. What does "yo essay" (or "yo, s.a.") mean? Why would one use it?

susan
12-19-2002, 10:00 PM
Is it "yo se"?

Zelmph(!)
12-19-2002, 10:08 PM
I'm pretty sure it's pronounced "yo essay." I just looked for "yo esay," and this site (http://web.syr.edu/~denadal/html/Divinity/americano.htm) makes an oblique reference to it. The author refers to a "'vato'-like
look." Are the people who use this term "vatos?"

Actually, the author also brings up another aspect of this stereotype-- generally, the guys who use "yo essay" are shown with just the top button of their shirt buttoned. Why is that?

NotBob13
12-19-2002, 10:16 PM
What they are saying is "Yo Jese" pronounded like "Hay-Say" it's like calling everybody who's name you don't know Mac, or Buddy.

MC Master of Ceremonies
12-19-2002, 10:17 PM
yo! Jose( the spanish name)!

MC Master of Ceremonies
12-19-2002, 10:19 PM
Always someone who get's there first!!!!!!

But I thought that the name was spelt 'Jose' (with inflections, which I cannot show).

pravnik
12-19-2002, 10:24 PM
It's "ese", folks. It's Spanish for "that".

pravnik
12-19-2002, 10:36 PM
I guess I should elaborate. Its literal meaning is "that". But when it's used as a very informal form of address, as in "Que tal, ese!" it's a friendly form of "man" or "homeboy". Why? I suspect nobody knows exactly. I doubt we could figure out why "man" is so prodigiously used in American English.

I wouldn't recommend using it with people you don't know if you aren't Latino/Latina and don't speak Spanish well.

ratty
12-19-2002, 10:53 PM
[b]pravnik[/i] is right. As for 'vato', I have no real idea of what it means. I was told by a friend that it's slang for a Latino gangster. (I have no idea if this is true. Does anyone know?) I was also told (by the same person) that the shirt with only the collar button buttoned is just a style or fashion statement among young men of (generally) Mexican descent, but sometimes it's a 'gang thing', that members of Latino gangs do. The person who told me this is of Mexican descent, and had at one point lived in a somewhat gang-ridden part of Los Angeles, so I assume she knew what she was talking about.

But the collar buttoned thing may just be some sort of cinematic visual shorthand for "Latino gang member". I've seen it a lot in movies over the years, but I've seen very few people do this in real life. (It looks kind of uncomfortable.) I was watching Stand and Deliver the other day, and Lou Diamond-Phillips' character is a young man of (I think) Mexican descent who has ties to a gang. He is shown repeatedly throughout the film wearing a long-sleeved shirt with only the collar button done, as are most of his gang member friends. They also wear a few other symbols of gang affiliation which seem to be somehow stereotypically Latino, like hair nets and rosaries around their necks. They also call people 'ese', but it's used slightly differently with different people. With friends, it's informal and casual; with people they do not like, there's more emphasis on the word itself, and it sounds disrespectful; with people not of their ethnic background, it sounds scornful or possibly a way of identifying themselves.

I think it may just be a popular stereotype.

DanBlather
12-19-2002, 10:57 PM
Originally posted by Zelmph(!)
On TV, characters who are Hispanic (usually Mexican, as far as I can tell) can usually be counted on to greet people they don't really like by saying "yo essay." Generally, it's something like "Yo essay, where's that money you owe me?"

In my three years of living in L.A., I've never heard anyone actually use this term. Well, I did hear it once, but the person using it was just as clueless about its origin as I am. So now I turn to the teeming millions. What does "yo essay" (or "yo, s.a.") mean? Why would one use it? It's probably "Yo Jefe". "Jefe" (hay fay) means "chief".

pravnik
12-19-2002, 11:10 PM
It does if that's what they're saying. If they're saying "Yo, ese", it means something else.

"Vato" can be vaugely gangsterish, but can be just man or guy, like "vato loco": crazy guy, don't screw with him. "Cholo" is a little more gangsterish.

panamajack
12-20-2002, 12:41 AM
Who you tryin' to stereotype, ese? Don't you know I'm loco?

It seems like the word may be a little bit dated now.

I have seen the one-button thing, but more often on wannabe gangsters at the mall copying the cinematic stereotype than on actual gang members (with whom I've admittedly had relatively little traffic).

Here's an example of 'vato' being used without gang overtones : http://low-riders.com/ is titled 'vatos locos web site'.

Zelmph(!)
12-20-2002, 03:00 AM
The teeming millions come through again. Thanks everyone!

Eats_Crayons
12-20-2002, 08:25 AM
Originally posted by DanBlather
It's probably "Yo Jefe". "Jefe" (hay fay) means "chief". This is what my mom told me it was when I asked her about 20 years ago.

She said it basically meant "boss" (chief, the dud in charge -- etc.)

Used in the same kind of context as "hey, dude" or alternatively in a more literal sense of "boss" of "chief."

As pravnik pointed out, there's also the fast and loose "ese" which is a bit more informal like "hey, bud" "hey, dude."

"Jefe" conntoes a little bit more respect (unless you're being ironic) than "ese". The comparisson would be along the lines of:
"ese" is to "jefe" as "hey, man" is to "you're the man!"

li'l Dickie Dirtz
12-20-2002, 08:53 AM
Just want to add weight to what pravnik and Eats_Crayons said, having grown up in a border town and having a second-generation Mexican-American as a best friend: ese is what they're saying and it means "that," but when used to address someone else it means "you" or "guy" or "bud."
Vato generally translates as "dude," but can be as loosely translated as ese. Si mon, limon.

seal_cleaner
12-20-2002, 09:05 AM
Originally posted by Zelmph(!)
generally, the guys who use "yo essay" are shown with just the top button of their shirt buttoned. Why is that?
I 've heard that's standard low rider dress, under which one wears a sleeeless whilte muscle shirt. Also boxy black shoes, baggy pants.
Have no direct knowledge of this, as I am the whitest guy on SDMB. (thread starter?)

smam
12-20-2002, 09:30 AM
I always thought it was " Yo S.A. ", with the S.A standing for South American.

UncleBill
12-20-2002, 10:06 AM
My linguistic consultant (Chileno) says it is Mexican gang slang, loosely meaning “dude”.

KneadToKnow
12-20-2002, 10:07 AM
chief, the dud in charge
[Perry White]
Don't call me Dud!
[/Perry White]

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