19 May, 2006


Like for me when I was growing up as a child in Venezuela, most people outside of Mexico in Castilian-speaking countries spell it with a j. Even Google backs it up:

Méjico [vs.] México

Of course, it's respectful and ultimately preferable to spell it the way Mexicans do, though the RAE apparently didn't even list México until the 1970 edition, while Méjico has been in their books since 1914 (look it up). Just don't take wordreference.com's word for it when their posters claim most Spanish-speakers in Latin America spell it the Mexican way. To be fair, the cause for the divergence is rooted in prescriptivist practices in the 1815 edition of the RAE, wherein all words that formerly used x where suddenly spelled with j (e.g., caxa, baxo, exido, etc.). What's more, this change from the x to the j was an indirect result of linguistic changes that gave rise to varied pronounciations of the former letter, with some pronouncing it as [sh] (like the t in the English word conversation), and others like the present-day Castilian Spanish j.

Anyway, it's always fascinating to see orthography and nationalism collide in seemingly peculiar ways. The post on wordreference (linked above) will give you but a taste of the passions such discrepancies are prone to stirring. For what it's worth, growing up in Venezuela I pronounced Texas with [ks], and not [j].

Technically, they're Southwestern

UPDATE: So I just realized that perhaps the Google figures do not necessarily back up my claim. Could be that so many Mexicans google mexico that they wholly overwhelm any other Spanish and English-speakers that do so. In fact, nine of the top ten cities to google the term come from Mexico, which may further buttress this counter-claim. On the other hand, despite the fact that Spain has a much larger population than Panama and Puerto Rico, they figure in only third for mejico searchers. This is notable because Spain has a predilection for spelling it Méjico, particularly in comparison to Latin American countries (indeed, 8 of the top 10 cities to spell it this way come from Spain, though San Juan, P.R., tops the list). Anyway, this all means that a probable majority of Spanish-speakers outside of México spell it with a j.

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