“That boy over there?” John Gallegos said. “Straddler. His mother is a Learner. She’s going to be talking to him in Spanish. Watch.”
Gallegos stood quietly, in the wide central part of a mall, pretending to look at nothing. The mother and son passed close by. She had dark red hair and was leaning on the boy’s arm; he was 14 or so, and in blue jeans. Gallegos was right. The mother was chatting amiably in Spanish. Gallegos tilted his head toward four teenagers shambling along. “Those kids? All Straddlers,” he said. “Well, the guy with his cap backwards — he might be a Navigator. He’s probably more English-media-consuming.”
The mall was in the city of Downey, which is part of Los Angeles. It was an ordinary California midrange shopping center: clean floors, Starbucks, hip apparel chains. Gallegos had come in to examine a clothing store he thought might become a new client. He’s a publicista an adman. He runs a 60-person agency called Grupo Gallegos in Long Beach. His agency wins awards for its commercials, which are funny, edgy and require translating into English when international judging committees study them. This particular week, in the middle of summer, Grupo Gallegos work was advertising leche, transporte de autobuses, pollo, ropa interior, servicio de Internet de alta velocidad, consultorios médicos, gimnasios and pilas that would be California Milk Processor Board milk, Crucero bus lines, Foster Farms chicken, Fruit of the Loom underwear, Comcast high-speed Internet service, Quick Health medical clinics, Bally fitness clubs and Energizer batteries, which the Gallegos people had decided to promote via a long-faced Mexican man who walks down the street explaining that as he has figured out that he’s immortal (scenes of him being mashed by a plummeting second-story sign, impaled on a spear in a museum, etc.), he requires an especially durable battery for his camera.
Grupo Gallegos advertising runs on Spanish-language television, Spanish radio, in Spanish magazine pages and on Spanish or bilingual Web sites. Some of these enterprises are housed in places you might expect them to be: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston. Many are not. There’s full-time Spanish television broadcasting now in Anchorage; Salt Lake City; Little Rock, Ark.; Wichita Falls, Tex.; Indianapolis; Savannah, Ga.; Boston; Oklahoma City; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Minneapolis. The area encompassing Portland, Ore., now has 10 Spanish radio stations, while four years ago it had only 3. The July issue of ESPN Deportes, with Hugo Sánchez on the cover, had a Gallegos underwear ad inside; so did the gossip magazine ¡Mira!, with Angélica Rivera on the cover; and a People en Español with RBD on the cover; and a Men’s Health en Español, whose cover article promised that James Bond would show readers how to be an hombre de acción.
If the only name on that list that sounds familiar is Bond’s the others are, respectively, the Mexican national soccer team coach, a telenovela star and a wildly popular pop-music group then Gallegos is interested less in selling you products, since you are likely not Hispanic, than in pointing out the exploding spending power of the demographic that is. The estimate worked up by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies for 2007 is $928 billion. Those are dollars spent inside this country by Hispanic consumers, American-born citizens as well as green-card residents and the undocumented, on things they want or need: batteries, iPods, laundry soap, lawn chairs, motor oil, Bulova watches, new-home loans, Volvos, takeout pizza, cellphones, power saws, swimming pools, deodorant, airline tickets and plasma TV’s. It’s $200 billion more than was spent two years ago. Propelled by continuous immigration and larger family size, the dual factors that are making the Hispanic population multiply faster than any other in the United States, the spending figure is expected to top a trillion dollars within the next three years.
In comparison with some of his colleagues in Hispanic advertising, in fact, John Gallegos runs a moderate-size shop. There are more than a hundred United States ad agencies, not including the publicistas in Puerto Rico, that now work almost exclusively in Spanish. The bigger Hispanic agencies have accounts like McDonald’s (Me encanta, which roughly translates to “I’m lovin’ it”), and Chevrolet (Súbete, “Get in”). Bounty’s slogan in English, “The quicker picker-upper,” appears in Spanish as Con Bounty sí puedes — “With Bounty, yes you can.” T-Mobile does Estamos juntos, “We’re all together.” Toyota does Avanza confiado, “Advance confidently.” Wal-Mart reportedly spends more than $60 million a year on reaching Hispanics, and for some years the Wal-Mart Spanish tag line, composed by a Houston agency called Lopez Negrete Communications, was Para su familia, de todo corazón. Siempre. Which lofted the blunt English “Low prices, always,” into a line enduring enough for a tombstone: “For your family, from the heart. Always.”
From this vantage, the grim admonitions of anti-immigration groups are hard to hear distinctly; they’re drowned out by the sound of cash registers. At the Grupo Gallegos office there’s a closet full of display cards on which fragments of information have been written out in black ink. The cards are frequently rifled through and arranged onto giant poster boards, and the first time I visited the Gallegos offices this summer, the boards from the most recent presentation were still leaning against a wall; the prospective client was a food company. The boards said things like:
LEARNERS: foreign born, Spanish dominant, 3 av kids, 65% rent
STRADDLERS: immigrated young, 4 av HH size, blue collar/semi prof, bilingual/mostly Spanish
NAVIGATORS: English dominant, some Spanish, 78% at least some college, semi prof/prof, 60% own home, HH inc $76K
The towers of information, with arrows here and there for emphasis, were taller than I am. They included Learner/Straddler/Navigator particulars on sour-cream usage (Navigators buy the most). The Senate immigration bill was collapsing during the weeks I spent watching Grupo Gallegos at work, and the Gallegos office sometimes felt like a prism in which the information generating so much political argument was continuously being refracted and reassembled into something vigorous and celebratory. “You ask: the guy who just came across the border with a coyote, do I want to go after him, too?” Gallegos once said to me. “Well, he’s going to get a job. He’s going to work. He’s going to start buying products and contributing to the economy. So while he might not be viable for a Mercedes today, I can introduce you to people who came here illegally or legally, with nothing, and are now driving a Mercedes. Advertising is aspirational. I want to aim ahead of where my audience is. Unless it’s the equivalent of beef to Hindus, I always say, any product and any service should be sold to Latinos in this country.”
Gallegos happened to be sitting in an office conference room at that moment with two account executives, an immigrant from Argentina named María Maldini and an immigrant from Mexico named Ken Muench, and they both considered this.
“Is there a beef-to-Hindus equivalent?” Maldini asked.
“Not that I’ve been able to find,” Gallegos said.
“Sleepovers,” Muench said, and smiled.
“True,” Gallegos said. “My parents wouldn’t let me sleep over at friends’ houses. I still won’t let my 8-year-old. You have to be very high on the acculturation curve to do sleepovers.”
The Grupo Gallegos office stretches across the sixth floor of a building one block off the beach. It has conference rooms and odd corner spaces that are enclosed by red curtains, like indoor Bedouin tents, so the creative guys on deadline can go slouch inside on stuffed chairs and pull the curtains around them and stare at their open laptops, looking desperate. The preferred Gallegos term for this state is en el fondo del mar, at the deepest depths of the sea. The creative guys wear blue jeans and T-shirts and tend to be unshaven. The office chatter eddies around the Gallegos workspace in Mexican Spanish, Argentine Spanish, Colombian Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, Cuban Spanish and the lispy Castillian Spanish of Spain, which is spoken fluently by, among others, a woman of Korean ancestry who grew up near Barcelona. It’s all extremely modern and confusing. John Gallegos, who is 40, was born in Los Angeles to a family from the Mexican state of Zacatecas; he and the other United States-born Hispanics at the agency slide back and forth between languages, frequently midsentence. “O.K., aquí está el problema que tenemos when we really start looking at the brand.”
One morning I walked into a red-curtained corner as Curro Chozas, one of the art directors, was saying in Spanish: “Tutankhamen, Charlie Chaplin, Mozart, George Washington — whatever. Anyway, whoever he is, he rips open his shirt. VRROOOM! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s George Washington!”
Chozas is from Madrid. He talks very fast and is good at sound effects, so the vrrooom made everybody jump. On the stuffed chairs were a copywriter named Saúl Escobar, who’s from Mexico, and one of the creative directors, Juan Pablo Oubiña, who’s from Buenos Aires and was listening to Chozas while staring at his own feet. Oubiña has a shaggy dark hair and a melancholy countenance, even when he’s greatly amused. Escobar and Chozas spent the previous days imagining a set of Dadaist spots placing famous characters from history in interesting situations with speedy things, strapped-on rockets and race cars and so on; this was promoting high-speed Internet service from Comcast, for which a previous campaign had featured wallets so grateful for Comcast’s low prices that they leapt from their owners’ possession and flew through the air in order to protect them from mishaps like spilled ketchup or reaching pickpockets.
Escobar and Chozas were tag-teaming now, waiting for a reaction.
“Napoleon Bonaparte, for example,” Chozas said. “Lassie. Mahatma Gandhi.”
“That would get my attention, Gandhi with the race car,” Escobar said.
“Napoleon’s too hard,” Oubiña said.
“You think more people will recognize Gandhi than Napoleon?” Chozas said.
“Pancho Villa,” Escobar said.
“There must be 200 ads with George Washington in them,” Oubiña said. He stretched and scrunched his hair. “Cleopatra would be better known than Napoleon.”
“Let’s go ask somebody,” Chozas said.
They trooped out. Oubiña has a college degree, owns his home, has a wife-one-child HH size, is more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, would be white-collar if he actually wore collars and at 38 has lived in this country for less than a third of his life; for these and other reasons, he is a Straddler, he told me, with certain Learner/Navigator undercurrents. At Grupo Gallegos, they all think this way. (“Navigator, with Learner mother and Straddler father,” one account director said crisply, when I asked her to label herself: she’s a 34-year-old professional; they came from Mexico when she was 6; her father manages well now in English; her mother doesn’t.) It was Oubiña who led the preparation for the first Grupo Gallegos ad I ever saw, last spring, during one of my periodic telenovela binges. The tagline was Toma leche, “Have some milk.” The ad was vastly more entertaining than my novela, and I thought I appreciated what the challenge had been; the counterpart English campaign was “Got Milk?” and I was pretty sure that asking people in Spanish whether they have milk is a bad idea, since I had once learned the regrettable way that if you use Spanish to ask a male Mexican grocer, “Do you have eggs?” you are inquiring as to his testicles.
In this instance, as it turns out, Tiene leche? may or may not be a vulgarity about breast milk, depending on situational context, but that wasn’t the real challenge at all. Translation alone rarely is. (The famous Chevy Nova story, about how General Motors bungled its 1960s Latin American car marketing because nobody figured out in time that no va means “doesn’t go,” has been reclassified as urban legend; there was a Mexican gasoline called Nova, debunkers point out, and besides, no va is not the way a Spanish speaker would typically say a car doesn’t work.) The real challenge, for Grupo Gallegos, was how to sell more milk to as many kinds of Hispanics as possible without alienating any of them or boring all of them. Also, as a point of creative honor, the Gallegos people didn’t want to look lame alongside the English “Got Milk?” campaign, which is internationally regarded as one of the brilliant ad runs of the last 20 years. That campaign’s big idea, to use adspeak, was deprivation; the San Francisco agency Goodby, Silverstein, stumped about how to draw attention to a product as familiar and soporific as milk, had decided to play with the comic horrors inherent in discovering the milk carton was empty. In one of the most celebrated of the “Got Milk?” ads, a history buff who knows the name of Alexander Hamilton’s killer grabs the phone to answer a radio quiz question and win a load of money, but he can’t make himself understood because his mouth is jammed up with peanut-butter sandwich and he’s completely out of milk.
But this would have been a gross misfire in Spanish — and not simply because an El Salvadorean immigrant, for example, is probably unfamiliar with both Aaron Burr and peanut-butter sandwiches. The whole theme was wrong, especially for people who have abandoned their home countries to migrate hundreds of miles north for work. “There’s already enough deprivation,” Oubiña told me. “It wasn’t funny.”
Everybody at the agency wanted to be memorable and sharp, though; they were not going to stick Mamá in her kitchen lovingly pouring milk for the children while exchanging smiles with Abuelita, as grandmas are called in Spanish. For some years now, that has been the standard these-are-Latinos cue when Hispanic agencies are doing the work. You don’t see dumb Anglo-generated clichés in these ads, like strategically placed tortillas or businessmen wearing sombreros. In Hispanic-made commercials the clichés are homegrown; the United States in general appears as a splendidly cheerful, up-by-the-bootstraps sort of place, full of suburban homeowners and hardworking men with pickup trucks, and an impressive amount of the time somebody has also figured out how to stage all this amid a warm multigenerational family, with Abuelita helping demonstrate the merits of the product. It’s referred to in some agencies as “Abuelita advertising.” It makes Oubiña a little crazy. “Look how she’s dressed,” he said in exasperation, replaying on his computer an Abuelita ad for cooking oil. Technically there was no abuelita in this one, just a beautifully-outfitted mamá in a spotless kitchen, experiencing overwhelming joy because of the health benefits the oil was bringing her family. “I would never make this ad,” Oubiña said. “It looks like 750,000 other brands. On any team I lead, there is never going to be a kitchen with somebody exclaiming, ‘Mmmm, how delicious!’ ”
The milk problem sent Oubiña and Escobar and Chozas into the deepest depths of the sea for a while, until it occurred to them to improvise with the opposite of deprivation: maniacal consumption, with the ensuing calcium-and-vitamins overload. They thought up a town where gravity is unreliable, causing the locals to float matter-of-factly along 30 feet in the air until they suddenly crash to the ground; their bones are exceptionally strong, though, because they drink so much milk, so they get right up and stroll away. Same thing with powerful teeth (a town where bus riders bite the straps hanging overhead) and hair with the strength of steel. Big success: satisfied client, international award for the gravity spot. “I just don’t want to do old-school Hispanic advertising,” Oubiña said. “I’m not trying to sound like an artist here. If I thought that, I’d be out of work by the end of the year. I’m just talking from a strategic point of view. You have to put something out there that hasn’t been seen before.”
On his desk Oubiña had a plastic Energizer bunny, which fell over after he wound it up and was now on its back, drumming and flailing. The agency had won awards for its Energizer ads too, but now they had a new campaign to develop, and Oubiña was grappling; he had to write a 15-second television spot that was eye-catching, praised the battery, contained a comic punch line that would make perfect sense to Hispanics and allowed el conejito — the little rabbit — to do its marching act across the screen. He was also supposed to try to help make the brand iconic for Spanish speakers. That was the word they were using at the agency; they had discerned that in English, people will use “going and going, like the Energizer bunny,” but that nobody makes como el conejo Energizer references of a similar nature, which means that in Spanish the battery is still a battery, not an icon or a simile or a feeling about life. This was perhaps a situation they could rectify. “In advertising it’s not easy to be different,” Oubiña said, and sighed. “It takes 10 times as much work.”
You can track part of the modern history of United States Hispanics, in a way, through the proliferation and escalating ambition of this country’s publicistas. Forty years ago, they were mostly a small group of Cuban-exile ad executives in New York and Miami, talking American agencies into letting them translate ad copy into Spanish. Then all-Hispanic agencies started opening up here, trying — often to no avail — to persuade clients that there were enough Spanish speakers in this country, with enough disposable income, to merit whole campaigns aimed directly at them. “I used to have clients who said, ‘I don’t want those people in my store,’ ” the Gallegos media director, Ken Deutsch, who is one of the agency’s only non-Hispanics, told me. “It was all: ‘Gardener.’ ‘Criminal.’ Or just: ‘They don’t have money.’ ”
Then the 2000 United States Census data began going public, and in its wake came the rattling headlines: at 15 percent of the present United States population, or 44 million people (factor in an estimated 9 million Latin American illegal immigrants), Hispanics now outnumber African-Americans. Their populations are multiplying so fast in certain parts of the country — nearly a 1,000 percent increase in Atlanta, for example, between 1980 and 2000 — that one recent report used the term “hypergrowth.” More than half come from or have origins in Mexico, but the array of homelands is extensive; when Grupo Gallegos got the Fruit of the Loom account a few years ago, Favio Ucedo, the Argentine chief creative director, decided to Hispanicize the four fruit guys, all of whom hover around in the ads offering underwear advice, via some mother-country humor that in Spanish constituted a collective private joke. He made Apple Guy and Leaf Guy Mexicans, hiring Mexican actors and giving them script lines that indicated they were the group leaders. Red Grape Guy became a Caribbean, dark-skinned and the best dancer, with the lilting half-swallowed Spanish of Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. There had to be a South American, Ucedo decided, so he tipped his hat to his countrymen’s unfortunate reputation elsewhere in Latin America and made Green Grape Guy an ego-inflated, overbearing Argentine, a caricature Ucedo knew Mexicans especially would relish.
Gallegos brought Ucedo with him seven years ago when he left the Hispanic agency where he worked before deciding to start his own shop; and one day when we went driving around Los Angeles Gallegos talked with some agitation about Abuelita advertising — not that he’s unilaterally opposed to it, he said, or feels anything but the greatest affection for his own abuelita, who as it happens now lives with his parents. “Latinos are more family-centered than the population in general,” he said. “But is that the beginning and end of us? No. And if that’s the only thing you put into a commercial to make it Latino, the commercial is boring.”
We were crossing the flat southeastern swath of the city where Gallegos lived as a child until his parents moved the family to a more middle-class and also less Hispanic area in neighboring Orange County. Gallegos narrated as he drove. “Here’s the church where my mom and dad got married. . . . Here’s Nix Check Cashing, where I used to bring my grandfather. . . . Look at that store with the wheel rims. That’s a big thing with Latinos. The cars have rims.” He chuckled. He was in his own car, a silver Lexus with entirely ordinary rims. He was wearing khaki pants, brown leather shoes, and a blue button-down shirt hanging loose. He’s a registered Republican, though he says he now leans Independent. He majored in business at the University of Southern California, where he was a catcher on the baseball team. His wife, Palma, is half second-generation Italian, half came-over-on-the-Mayflower descendant; Gallegos is still such a devoted U.S.C. football fan that when they were engaged, he advised her to time their wedding date outside the football season or he would never be able to go away with her for their anniversary.
“Here’s the grammar school where my aunt went,” Gallegos said. He uses English automatically, unless he’s around people who prefer Spanish, and as I looked at him in profile I contemplated the crash course in advertising that I was receiving at his agency. One of the first tasks the Gallegos researchers undertake when the agency begins a campaign is clarifying who the “bull’s-eye target” is — whether the ads should be aimed most directly at Learners, say, for whom some clever reference to their newness in the United States might help. (They did a Tecate beer ad recently in which a young working man named Basilio puts up politely all day with mangled English versions of his name — “Hey, Basedo!” “Hi, Basyloh!” — and finally walks into a bar full of Latinos, where everybody, hoisting Tecates, gets it right.) Bull’s-eyeing a Straddler in Spanish made intuitive sense, too: you’re here, you’re acquiring and nos entendemos, we understand each other.
But Spanish advertising aimed at a person like Gallegos, who lives fully and prosperously in the English-speaking United States — why make the effort? Why wouldn’t a company regard him as a frequent-flying, golf-playing, John Grisham-reading Lexus driver and assume they’ve got his attention every time he picks up an airline magazine or watches college football on English-language TV? Whenever Gallegos and I talked about this, he’d ask why anybody should bother targeting ad campaigns specifically at women. “You can see the same ads the men see,” he would say.
During his “Galaygos” period, the years in elementary and middle school when teachers regularly mispronounced his surname and he gave up trying to correct them, Gallegos — it’s supposed to sound like gah-YEH-gos — stopped speaking Spanish to anyone outside his family, desperate to blend in. It was in his parochial high school that he began to “reacculturate,” as the marketing terminology puts it; there, in the early 1980s, ethnic-identity badges had become chic, and the Anglo kids got his name right. “Then I became John Gallegos again,” he said. There are certainly Hispanics in this country who know no Spanish — born-heres who were never chewed out by their elders in Spanish; never curled up on a couch with a favorite aunt to make fun of the scheming women on the telenovelas; have zero consciousness of Sábado Gigante, the beloved cornball variety show, which broadcasts live from Miami and is the longest-running weekly entertainment program on TV, in English or Spanish. But the percentage who have had the language assimilated out of them completely is strikingly small — a national survey last year found that fewer than 5 percent of United States Latinos say they can neither read nor converse even a little in Spanish. Gallegos regards this degree of monolingualism, to be blunt about it, as their loss.
“Here’s my neighborhood,” he said suddenly. The streets were curving now, with broad-leafed trees and wide, well-tended lawns — $850,000 around here for a teardown, Gallegos observed. He was quiet for a minute. His agency has done advertising aimed at Hispanics who live in communities like his own; on occasion, when they think it’s appropriate, they’ll do the work in English as well as Spanish. But if there’s any single net that can be draped across the length and breadth of American Hispanics, it’s the Spanish language itself, and like his publicista colleagues, Gallegos is perplexed at American truculence about assuming that full integration into this country requires leaving the native language behind — that bilingualism in the United States is something to be overcome on the path to success, rather than cultivated and celebrated as a success unto itself. The most famous immigrant in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, had just a few weeks earlier set off a small uproar at a National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention by declaring that he knew the best way for Hispanic immigrants to learn English well enough for life in the United States: “Turn off the Spanish television,” the governor said.
We sat in front of Gallegos’s house, which is white, spacious, Cape Codish. There’s a swimming pool in the back. The children were away taking martial-arts classes or learning classical piano. The whole tableau looked like a public service announcement for American upward mobility, and Gallegos knew it. “I’m the poster boy for what they think it should be like, right?” he said. “I guarantee you Arnold wouldn’t have a problem with me. Registered Republican. Thriving young businessperson. Big donor to my university. But they don’t know that I grew up in the environment they don’t want to have — watching Spanish television. We speak Spanish to this day. We speak Spanish in the house.”
He started the car. “If you really like me, what you’re going to get is me promoting what I grew up with, which is more diversity,” he said. “Careful what you wish for.”
Gallegos invited me to a family dinner at his parents’ house the night before I left Long Beach. His mother, María Elena, had made coctel de camarones, shrimp cocktail flavored up with chopped avocados and tomatoes; and carnitas, shreds of fragrant pork spooned with fresh salsa into tortillas. She swore this was nothing special. Gallegos’s father, who is also named John and worked his way up through various businesses while Gallegos and his sister were children, owns a company that makes light fixtures. His mother works at a public elementary school, as a bilingual liaison for parents who aren’t comfortable in English. “She’s a great bridge,” Gallegos said, as his mother handed him a plate of food in the kitchen. “That’s all I do, too. We’re a bridge for the consumer.”
When Gallegos’s grandmother came in he kissed her on the cheek, addressing her with the respectful usted instead of tu, and everybody sat. The conversation ricocheted between Palma, who doesn’t really speak Spanish; Gallegos’s grandmother, who doesn’t really speak English; his children, who understand Spanish but respond in English; his mother, who speaks both languages but prefers Spanish; and his father, who speaks both languages but prefers English. Nobody found this disorienting, including me; my father is from Mexico, the son of Warsaw Jews who fled in the 1920s to Mexico City, and our extended family gatherings used to sound like the Gallegoses’, except with Polish thrown in when my grandparents wanted to mutter to each other in private. Like many immigrants’ children, I tend toward complicated feelings about language, heritage and the wages of fitting in, and I had come across something I was interested in showing Gallegos: copies of two United States newspaper advertisements, circa 1910 — one for Woodbury’s Hair Tonic and the other for the Equitable Phonograph Company. Both, except for a few truncated phrases (“Greasy dandruff? Hair coming out?”), were entirely in Yiddish.
Gallegos’s parents studied the ads, examining the lettering closely — Yiddish is written in Hebrew characters — and Gallegos looked over their shoulders. A century ago, like Italian and German and Chinese, Yiddish was a vibrant language of daily life and commerce in the United States, read all over the Eastern states in the pages of the Jewish Daily Forward. When Gallegos’s grandchildren replay his agency’s gravity ad, I wondered, will it look to them like these? Will Spanish in the United States have been recast by then as the language of the aged abuelitos, saluted in selective identity-establishing vocabulary words and the names of foods and holidays? What will his sons and daughter be speaking at their own family dinner tables?
“Anything’s possible,” Gallegos said. He traced one finger down the outline of the Woodbury’s bottle. “But I think there’s a difference. There was a massive ocean between those people and their home countries. And technology prevented people from staying in touch.” No immigrant group in United States history has ever had what this era’s Spanish speakers have, in fact: an international border that can be crossed on foot; constant back-and-forth traffic and inexpensive phone communication to the countries of origin; the Internet, on which the Mexican daily Excelsior can materialize onscreen every morning and two clicks turns the entire Google landscape to Spanish; multiple networks of non-English broadcast programming with enormous audiences; and a long lineup of corporations eager to court these people’s spending money in any manner that works.
It was dark by now, and María Elena Gallegos rose to bring dessert: a plate of sweet rolls, pan dulce, made by a Mexican bakery nearby. “Both,” Gallegos finally said. The languages his children will speak, he meant — what they’ll work in, what they’ll dream in at night, how they’ll live. “Everybody will speak English,” he said.“I think it’s not going to be either-or. I think we might become a bilingual nation. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”