1 5 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N P S T W Y Z
Ne No Nu

New Mexican English

accent, dialect, language | part of: encyclopedia/language
Pronounced: \noo mek-si-kuhn ing-glish\ | IPA: /nu ˈmɛk sɪ kən ˈɪŋ glɪʃ/

Definition of New Mexican English

The American English language as used in New Mexico (also other parts of the American Southwest), the dialect referred to as New Mexican English, centers around the Middle Rio Grande Valley; just north of Taos, through Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area, to just south of Las Cruces. This dialect exists with a few variations urban variation (sometimes referred to as Burqueño English or Cruces English), a rural variation (Found in towns such as Tucumcari and Carlsbad, but also small cities such as Roswell), and a mountain variation (referred to as Northern New Mexico English, due to its prominence in Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountain towns, but it also occurs in other ranges such as the Gila National Forest).

Examples of New Mexican English

Standard New Mexican English

It is a contact language, which means that it derives from close contact with native speakers of other dialects and languages, and can be exaggerated by bilingualism but is not dependent upon it. New Mexican English can be most easily identified, in terms of accent, with several key features.

  • Substantial intercommunication with speakers of those prior languages has also lead to a sing-song pattern, in that there is a pitch change between words, this mostly comes from the languages of New Mexican Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Zuni, Tiwa, Navajo, Hopi, Keresan, and Tanoan. Bilingualism can increase the song pattern’s audibility, however bilingualism is not the primary factor. Most New Mexican English speakers are primarily English or solely English speakers, and studies in International Journal of Bilingualism have concluded that the Voice-Onset Time plays a low-factor in the pattern. Meaning that speakers proficient or native English speakers will display the pattern but at less audible level.
  • The Spanish language letters ll and ñ are pronounced in the context of Spanish words, and since they are not featured in English writing, as happens with ñ, are sometimes replaced with n in writing. Many Spanish origin words that end in an audible short e are likewise audible, such as grande being pronounced gran-day.
  • Adding an assuring “or what,” “or no,” or “huh,” to the end of a question, is fairly common. Likewise, ‘you know’ can sometimes be added in the middle of sentences. These are used in a similar manner to the Canadian English “eh,” in the sense that it’s a reassurance to getting an answer. A confirmation with a simple ‘I know’ , or even combining with an assuring ‘I know huh’, is a simple agreement similar to ‘I agree’ or ‘I concur’.
  • Pronunciation is influenced, by varying leanings to sub-dialects and to varying degrees, by; New Mexico Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Ranchero English, Western American English, Californian English, Texan English, Chicano English, and Midwestern English. Pronunciation isn’t the only thing that is influenced by these languages, there are also a few loanwords, like; ‘nana’ for Grandmother in Northeastern American English, and a plethora of Spanish words being used including ‘acequia’ for community-operated watercourse, ‘arroyo’ for temporary/seasonal creek/stream, and ‘lobo’ for gray wolf.
  • Sometimes words can be borrowed from Spanish, Tiwa, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and/or Southern Athabaskan languages for emphasis and exaggeration. Example, “Diné” means “Navajo people” in Navajo and “Sí” mean “Yes” in Spanish, these can be used, as, “oh diné” and “oh si” being used in a similar manner to “oh man” and “oh boy”, from Standard English, in that it emphasizes a statement, and expresses joy or anger, but can uniquely extend to sincere questioning. But, beyond that, any number of words from the contact languages can simply be used for similar types of expression. Another popular example is “bueno bye” (with the “b” in bueno being very subtley pronounced), which is used at the end of conversations, especially at the end of a phone call.
  • The partial pronunciation of certain words, most obviously with the word crayon, pronounced with a single syllable as cran, whereas in standard American English, it is pronounced with two syllables as cray-on. This can be exaggerated in certain situations, though it doesn’t occur quite as often, including pronouncing ‘remember’ as ‘member’ and ‘especially’ as ‘specially’. Such pronunciation creates obvious homophones.
  • Many unique context-sensitive interjections exist, including; ‘hui’ as a fear based interjection, ‘y’ pronounced as a long “e” is an exclamation of bewilderment, and the trepidatious usage of the word ‘omber’. “a la” short for the curse term “a la maquina” is fairly common as well. Pípíhearted, a combination of the Spanish term “pío” (as in pío-pío, which is an onomatopoeia from the sound of a baby bird or chick) and the English terms “chicken-hearted” or “broken-hearted”, is a slang expression used to tell someone to not be distressed or offended at a prior remark or situation.

Alphabet and Characters; ll and ñ. Contact languages; Jicarilla, Tiwa, Lipan, Keres, Navajo, New Mexico Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Picuris, and Zuni. Idioms and Interjections; A la, All, Hui, I know huh, O sí, Omber, Or what/Or no, and Y. Nouns; Acequia, Canales, Coke, Coyote, Lobo, and Vigas. Proper Nouns; Many common place names often have multiple names associated, from the contact languages, with some being more common than others. An example being Tsi-ku’mu-P’in and Cerro Chicoma, which both translate to “flaking stone mountain”, located in Central New Mexico.


Though these sub-dialects exist, they display similar pronunciation styles and grammar usages as the aforementioned Standard New Mexican English. Scholars have tended to label numersous standards, varieties, dialects, and accents without further qualification of the dialectic regions within the American Southwest. Recent interest in the primary dialect of New Mexican English, and its three primary sub-dialects, has numerous descriptive labels of the various sub-dialects of New Mexican English. The terms usually center around “Northern New Mexico”, rural areas, and Southeastern New Mexico each containing their own sub-dialects of New Mexican English, but current naming conventions are dubious at best. Sub-dialects of New Mexican English are mostly sub-regional variations, including minor influencing accents.

In the old Pueblos and Spanish towns, in Central New Mexico, there is the common Standard New Mexican English. The most popular variety is urban variety made popular due to its usage in populated areas such as Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area, which is why is is sometimes called the Burqueño dialect, however this name is misleading as it can be heard throughout the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, New Mexico Combined Statistical Area, and even in Las Cruces, El Paso, Farmington, Clovis, and any other Metropolitan and Micropolitan areas throughout the State. This urban variety tends to be influenced by Californian English, Chicano English, Texan English, and General American English. In and around the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there is a Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado variety sometimes referred to as Northern New Mexican English, Hispano English, and/or Nuevomexicano English, the accents of the old Spanish and Mexican settlers from the 1500s to the 1800s are prevalent, alongside influences from the Navajo, Apache, Pueblo, and Ute, there are also several unique Spanish loadwords including Canales, Colchon, and Vigas. Rural areas add variants of Midwestern American English terminology, including variations of phrases such as a version of the Minnesotan “dontcha know” in the form of “I know huh”, and other English dialects further influence rural areas, Texan English in the East and Western American English, to form another variety of New Mexican English, sometimes called Ranchero English.

There are a few accents that influence the phonetics in subregions, in Southeastern New Mexico especially near El Paso, Texas, the Mexican Spanish accent is more audible, and Texan English has a similar influence in eastern New Mexico. Various Native American languages, have influence in and around New Mexico’s large reservations, especially Tiwa, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and other Southern Athabaskan languages; with a Navajo language accent most obvious in and around the Northwestern part of the state.

Specific examples of New Mexican English

More examples will be added later, and specific moments in the examples will be clarified in future updates.

Standard New Mexican English

  • Valentino De La O interviewing Jerry Apodaca, Governor of New Mexico from 1975 – January 1, 1979.
  • Animator and director Mike Judge, best known for Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Office Space, Idiocracy, and Silicon Valley.
  • Automobile race car driver Al Unser Sr., and the entire Unser family.

New Mexican English rural variety

  • Musician Bo Brown
  • Poet Baxter Black.
  • Musician and poet Mike Moutoux.

Various New Mexican English


Multiple comedians use their dialect in comedy, as with most comedians this is to extenuate the circumstances of a story, in order to emphasize the joke.

  • James and Ernie, a comedy duo from Farmington, New Mexico, and Fort Defiance, Arizona.
  • Actor Stephen Michael Quezada, best known for his role as Agent Gomez in Breaking Bad.
  • Two comedy skits by the Blackout Theatre Company, went viral on YouTube, titled “Shit Burqueños (New Mexicans) Say”. The main character, named Lynette, is played by actress Lauren Poole.


  • It is rumored that the actors of Breaking Bad performed with New Mexican accents.

Origin of New Mexico English

This dialect is part of the capacious Southwestern American English, as designated by the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Tampere. Other major Southwestern American English dialects are Navajo English, Arizonan English, Texan English, Californian English, and multiple Native American English variants. New Mexican English is the standard pronunciation of English used in New Mexico at large. More specifically, for commonalities within large population centers and throughout rural areas. It is not confined to a singular sub-accent or sub-dialect, as the pronunciation and grammar have varied since the mid-to-late 19th century, with the general New Mexican dialect being recorded at least since the 1920s. The term New Mexican English covers all varieties, across multiple regional, ethnic, and social backgrounds. There are multiple accents and dialects that are influences on this dialect, including; American English and General American English, as well as neighboring and other Western American English accents and dialects (California English, Texan English, Pacific Northwest English). Because of this, there are many sub-varieties. With this interpretation, New Mexican English encompasses a range of accents and dialects, including the prior mentioned standard varieties. According to the Modern Language Association, the number of English speakers in New Mexico is 1,197,144, or 63.96% of the population. And, with 2013 U.S. Census Estimates of New Mexican’s born and raised within the state at about 51.4%, and a population of 2,085,287 brings the total to approximately 1,071,837. Following studies performed by The University of New Mexico, around 90% of people born within the state are native English speakers, or are proficient with English, it would be safe to assume that 90% of the 51.4% of those born within the state would speak New Mexican English to some degree, meaning that 46.26% of the population speaks with this accent. This leaves us with ~964,653 speakers of this dialect. This still excludes estimates based beyond this sample, including Southern Colorado, Eastern Arizona, Eastern Navajo Nation, and West Texas which have populations of New Mexican English speakers, and as such is subject to variability.

Alternate spellings exist; New Mexican English, NME, New Mexico accent/dialect. According to Google Trends “New Mexico English” is the most popular term, however “New Mexican English” is proper English, as linguistic variations commonly take on the term of their demonym.
First Known Use: 18th-19th century