“You don’t say ‘Que?’, You say ‘Mande?'” Adults used to correct. Today, some avoid this expression because it “denotes submission.”
One of the expressions that most attracts the attention of other Spanish speakers is the answer “¿mande?”, Which usually replaces “¿qué?”. Although it is increasingly in disuse, until a few years ago it was considered rude to answer with the imperative or interrogative “what?”, Since it was seen as a dry answer. The elders used to correct the children with the phrase “You don’t say ‘Que?’, You say ‘Mande?’”.
In recent years a critical look at the “Mande?” It has caused that in a consensual way it is affirmed that it is an expression that reveals submission. In the same way as other Spanish speakers, today a large number of Mexicans think that the “¿mande?” It is an expression with a colonial historical charge.
The linguist Concepción Company, a member of the Mexican Academy of Language (AML), told the BBC that “a vernacular marker, which undoubtedly identifies as Mexican.” The Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE) does not have a particular meaning for this form of the verb to send. However, the AML does classify it as a way of responding.
“Mande?”, An expression of Mexican courtesy and not of submission
According to Conception Company, while it seems totally natural to some Mexicans, for a foreigner the impression it gives “is that it is about the speaker’s submission to him.” In addition to the above, it is often thought that the mande is a servile response born in the colonial caste system. It is said that the lower castes in the social ladder used to respond with a “command me”, which later evolved to “mándeme usted”, to the bosses and nobles. However, according to Company, there is no written record that supports that this form of use of the verb command is a colonial imposition.
” More than 9,000 documents and there is not a single ‘mande?’ in the colonial period ”, However, there are formulas such as mandé a hacer “I ordered you to do”. Likewise, the writer Juan de Alarcón (1581-1639) writes “mande vaucé (order your mercy)”.
Therefore, Company deduces that the use of “mande” is a respectful expression and does not imply colonial submission. It should be noted that its use was extended to all economic and social classes, serving to respond without distinction to rich or poor people.
“That is perceived as submission, yes. Foreigners perceive it as submission effectively, but because it is a verb of command, it is a causative of command and obviously it is very strong ”, indicates Company.
Likewise, the philologist points out that the use of the “mande?” it was also common in some rural regions of Spain. Therefore, it is an expression similar to “viste?” Argentine, which is not reduced to literality. From this perspective, the use of the mande “command?” it does not imply hospitality or submission, therefore its use is not incorrect.