Elements of deep culture deal with the feelings and attitudes that we learn by being a member of a particular group. It involves the thoughts and beliefs, the personal values, and the subtle gradations of interpersonal relationships as expressed in actions and words, by day-by-day details of life as it is lived. The elements of deep culture have been generally divided by research into twenty different topics, not all of which will be discussed. Ceremony

Hispanic children shake hands with adults when greeting them. Adult men tend to greet female friends with a beso (kiss) on the cheek. Men often greet another man with an abrazo (hug) and a couple of pats on the back. With hospitality, when offering something, one should not be surprised when the first reaction is "gracias, no. " This is to be expected and only after the second offer, a simple "gracias" will suffice. Also, when one is invited to someone's home, the hostess will say "Mi casa es su casa" (My house is your house) which is not to be taken literally, but means "you are always welcome in my house." Courtship, Marriage, and Last names

Traditional Hispanic young men still ask permission from the girl's father to marry his daughter. This is referred to as pedir la mano (ask for the hand). Marriage for a young Hispanic woman also includes changing her name. However, last names go through a different process, than changing names of married women in the Anglo culture. Here is an example: Let's call the bride "Elvira Gomez Perez" and the groom "Jose Alvarez Maldonado." Elvira's name "Gomez" is her father's last name and "Perez" is her mother's maiden name. The same goes for Jose: "Alvarez" is his father's last name and "Maldonado" is his mother's maiden name. "Gomez" is Elvira's legal family name and "Alvarez" is Jose's legal family name. Both would be listed in the phone book under these names. Jose will keep his name as "Jose Alvarez Maldonado," however, the bride will become "Elvira Gomez de Alvarez," losing her mother's maiden name of "Perez." If they have a son, his name will be, for example, "Mario Alvarez Gomez" and if they have a daughter, she will be, for example, "Maria Alvarez Gomez." Both children will belong to the "Alvarez" family. In later years, they will continue the tradition with their own children. One can understand now that Immigration Services are dealing with a lot of confusion trying to figure out the immigrant's last names.

Padrinos de Lazo in Hermosillo, Mexico


Hispanics enjoy bright and vivid colors in their clothes, their art, and their houses. Color combinations that the Anglo culture would consider "tacky", the Hispanic culture finds aesthetically pleasing. An example of this are the murals often seen in Hispanic neighbors and businesses, or where an Hispanic "feel" is desired. Ethics

El Honor (the concept of honor) must be defended by Hispanics, even if fighting is necessary. This attitude supposedly comes form the ethics practiced by various Indian tribes (indios) of the Latin American world. The teacher should know that harsh words and cursing are more frowned upon by Hispanics than in the Anglo society. Family Ties

For Hispanic adults, it is hard to comprehend that it is quite normal in the Anglo culture for senior citizens to live alone or in homes. It is very common to have three to five generations under one roof. Today it is more accepted among the Hispanics of the third or fourth generation to take an older family member to a rest home or group. Folk Myths

Superstition exists in every culture, only the degree varies. One example is "how to cure a child's hiccups." Hispanics use a small ball of red thread with saliva and put this on the forehead of the person with hiccups. Discussing folk myths in a class can turn into a lively exercise. Gestures and Body Language

Anglos give directions pointing with their index finger, while Hispanics give directions with all fingers extended outward and gesture with the whole hand. In some Hispanic cultures, pointing with the index finger has a sexual connotation. Discussing body language can be turned into a group exercise. Have students write down the relationship between nonlinguistic body motions and communication and the meaning it conveys. Grooming and Presence

Hispanic females have their ears pierced within days of their birth. Make a list, together with your students, of how Hispanic males and females present themselves. Then, compare the grooming and presence habits of the two cultures and make them a part of a discussion. Sex Roles

Traditionally, men provide and women serve, however, today most women have to work also, and the roles are slowly changing. Machismo

The macho (he-man) attitude of Hispanic men encompasses all the stereotypes of what men are "supposed to do." It is difficult to discern if machismo is a reality or a myth.


Anglos communicate with each other, usually maintaining a distance of 36 to 48 inches, while Hispanic. tend to stand closer to each other at about l 8 inches. It has been observed by the authors of this handbook, who both grew up in different cultures, that Anglos draw away during a conversation because they seem uncomfortable when they are too close to a conversation partner. The teacher has to be conscious about this fact and try not to give off the nonverbal message, "Don't come too close to me" with body language. The teacher can, when appropriate, discuss with his/her Hispanic students the cultural differences that exist in matters of proxemics and how to make everybody comfortable. A lot has been published about the concepts of surface culture and deep culture and the bibliography at the end of this handbook will lend itself to more research on this subject.

Four Generations Living Together