Posted by: puebloman | March 11, 2009

British immigrants 1: the “Guiri”

Everyone who doesn’t come from your village is a foreigner, especially Andalucians who come from the next village. All Scandinavians, Germans, Americans, Dutch and Belgians are assumed to be British because they speak English. To the chagran of the French, English (or probably American) is the lengua franca among foreigners in these parts. However, not all foriegners are “Guiris” (pronounced gheerees). The guiri is definitely a northern phenomenum. It refers to the non Spanish speaking flabby white person wearing baggy shorts and socks over flip flops, who goes bright red in the sun. Our Spanish/Australian friend tells us that it comes from Spaniards mishearing Brits who can’t or won’t speak Spanish asking “Where is? . . Where is? . .”

There is a debate among hispanophiles as to whether this term is a specific attack on the  “sons of the waves” or  just everyday racism. We were introduced to the word by a friend in the village who came round every Saturday morning for conversation. The idea was to do half in Spanish and half in English but we always gave up and resorted to scabby village gossip in “Spangish”. Our friend told us that  guiri wasn’t at all offensive. She thought it was fair comment. “Every week” she said “I tell my friends I am going to teach Spanish to the “guiris”.”And every week” I replied ” I tell my friends that the cateta (the peasant) is coming round to learn English”

She was furious and told  us she couldn’t possibly be a cateta because she was at university studying business. So that put us right. Her position was clear. So was ours.

For those who enjoy guiri spotting, guiris can be seen in large shoals cavorting between the saucy birthday cards in the English bookshop, and the export Daily Mail stand oustide Eroski’s near Velez-Malaga.


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