A couple of years ago, I blogged about McDonald’s annual Filet-O-Fish promotions for the Lenten season, and conveyed a bit of history as to how it was indeed religious observances that caused the Filet-O-Fish sandwich to come into existence in the first place. If the results on Statcounter are any indication, that post remains one of the most frequently stumbled-upon posts on this blog even today. More recently, I’ve had occasion to ponder the Lenten observances of my local Taco Bell.
For the past several years, a sign much like this one has been posted every Lent, promoting Taco Bell’s meat-free options for those who are observing a religious fast. Note that the sign is in Spanish. Interestingly enough, although most signs in this Taco Bell are in English, there hasn’t been any such English-language Lenten promotional sign in this Taco Bell in at least the three years that I’ve been paying attention. Only Spanish-language ones (actually, I notice that this one shows up at least three times in this restaurant. One on each of two doors, and one just underneath the main menu).
I hope that it's not too much of a stereotype to recognize that many Spanish-language speakers in Southern California are Catholic, and would therefore perhaps be more likely to observe Lent than many of us who are Protestant (although as I’ve noted in the past, it's by no means unheard of for Protestants to observe Lent, too). That the restaurant should try to reach a potentially significant portion of its audience doesn’t surprise me at all. But why not have an English-language version of the sign? Surely there are English-speakers that would appreciate the options for meat-free dieting, as well! And surely not all of them have enough familiarity with Spanish (admittedly, my own is fairly rudimentary) to be able to recognize what the existing signs are trying to tell them!
I wonder how those who speak Spanish as their primary language feel about all this. After all, most of the other signs in this restaurant are in English, and aren’t translated into Spanish for them! This is merely a rare example of the it working the other way around. As an English-speaker (and, perhaps more importantly, one who does understand just enough Spanish that I do get the point of the Lenten signs), I probably don’t have any right to complain.
Even so, I do think it’s a an interesting phenomenon.