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My Spanish is not perfect. And when I say it’s not perfect, I mean I make occasional, and possibly egregious errors. I actually can’t think of any at the moment, but if you introduce me to one of your more careful Spanish-speaking friends, I promise to offend.

I also have a bit of a speech defect in Spanish, characterized by my lack of ability to properly say a single r in close proximity to a d, especially when separated by vowels. That is to say, the following words are my nemeses: Rodrigo (sorry to all the Ro-ros out there, but your name? It gives me hives), adolorida (in pain (for a woman)), arado (plowing), and my personal word nightmare: refrigerador. I was recently told by a Chilean that everyone has problems with the word refrigerador and that it’s a French word and we should blame the French. Consider yourselves blamed, Frenchmen, and if you’re named whatever the French version of Rodrigo is, consider yourselves doubly blamed.

So, my Spanish? It’s not perfect. And I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for learners of English, having been an English teacher for several years both in the states and in Chile. There are certain typical mistakes you can see among native Spanish speakers when learning English, and what I love so much about this particular piece of vandalism is that it typifies three of them.

when self-expression meets the grammar police

One, overuse of the article. In English we do not use the article the for general terms, like love, life or in this case, punk. In Spanish, “El amor es ciego” (lit: the love is blind), La vida es difícil (lit: the life is hard), etc. Here we have someone wanting to express something about punk, and they find themself in the posession of an extra article. Ten points off.

Next we have the lack of word-terminal s, which in this case leaves the poor sentence completely verbless. What should read punk’s for punk is, now reads punk, and only punk. Oh copula, how we miss you! Another deduction.

And third, we have a situation often seen, when not clear on how something should be spelled in English where a similar or same-sounding combination of letters is provided. Near where I live there are several coffe shops, and a bowling alley called Japimax, presumably for the great joy it brings you. And here we have madafaca.

And I don’t even know where to start with this one. Should I grab a can of pintura en spray rojo (red spray paint) and make the corrections? Or should I silently absorb them, realized I understand the sentiment and that that’s good enough, and what I’d want from people listening to me when I make my linguistic faux pas (there go those French again!). It’s really not mine to argue whether the punk is or is not dead. I don’t even know who “the punk” is.

Or maybe I should take one of the many new black conference teeshirts that have recently come into my posession, turn them inside out and write the same lema (slogan) across the chest?

The punk not dead madafaca.

I could win friends, influence people and misteach a whole new generation. So tempting.

And if you love actual, artistic murals, don’t miss this smart blog about actual painted murals in Mexico and Chicago (thus far): mad about the mural