Gentefication (hen-tay-fee-KAY-shun): A Spanglish portmanteau of Spanish gente (“people”) and the English suffix from “gentrification.” Defined as “the process of upwardly mobile Latinos, typically second-generation and beyond, investing in and returning to the old neighborhood.” (Leslie Berestein Rojas, Multi-American blog, KPCC (Southern California Public Radio), December 28, 2011.)
The coinage of gentefication is attributed to Guillermo Uribe, who grew up in the mostly Mexican-American East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. In 2006, Uribe converted a 60-year-old Boyle Heights bar, the Metropolitan, into Eastside Luv Wine Bar y QUEso1, “a sleek bar that attracts younger patrons whom some call Chipsters, for Chicano hipsters,” according to a story about Boyle Heights published in the New York Times on August 18, 2013. Reporter Jennifer Medina writes:
To many, these newer landmarks along First Street are clear signs of gentrification.
To Guillermo Uribe, who opened the bar several years ago, it is something else: gentefication. These are people — in Spanish, gente — who enthusiastically talk about maintaining the area’s deep sense of Mexican-American history.
Gentrification, on which gentefication is based, first appeared in print in 1973 in the Times of London, according to the OED. The verb form, gentrify—”to renovate or convert (housing, esp. in an inner-city area) so that it conforms to middle-class taste; to render (an area) middle-class”—had appeared the previous year, also in a British publication.
The Eastside Luv website is enthusiastic, playful, and sincere about its origins and intentions:
The decision to change the name was not easy to make, but felt it was necessary to communicate the LOVE we have for our Chicano/Pocho2/Latino EASTSIDE experience. …
The improvements are mostly inside (which is where all improvements should start) and consist of: custom CHAINdeliers inspired by lowrider chain steering wheels, Low Rider Lounge Shairs upholstered in Dickies and Pendleton fabric and clear plastic as Grandmas did, Wino Bench Seating upholstered in black corduroy inspired by gangster business casual wino house slippers, Light Sconces & Cabinets adorned with chicken wire... just to name a few of the elements inspired by our East Los Angeles existence.
We are, however, well aware that before BROOKLYN AVE became Cesar Chavez Ave, Boyle Heights was home to a large Jewish community.3 So, we decided to make our cocktails using Soju4 (ehhh)... actually we decided to design the inside to look and feel like many of the beautiful turn of the century Victorian and Craftsman Bungalows that dominate Boyle Heights... only a bit sexxxier.
“I [Heart] Eastside Luv” T-shirts and sweatshirts carry a visual and verbal pun: the heart symbol is the Sacred Heart, seen frequently in Mexican Catholic iconography; and the acronym for Eastside Luv also stands for “English as a Second Language.”
Besides gentefication and Chipsters, contemporary East L.A. slang includes:
Tweecanos: Chicanos on Twitter
Googlear: to Google (using the Spanish infinitive-verb ending -ar)
Feisbuk: “Facebook” rendered in phonetic Spanish
MariachiOke: karaoke with mariachi music. (Read about other -oke blends here.)
1 Queso means “cheese” in Spanish, but the orthography turns the word into a bilingual pun meaning, roughly, “so what.”
3 Personal aside: My father grew up in Boyle Heights when it was a mostly Jewish neighborhood, and graduated from Roosevelt High School. My grandmother is buried in a Boyle Heights cemetery.
4 Soju is a distilled liquor made in Korea, traditionally from rice, wheat, and barley. I think this joke is a slightly off-target reference to the Jewish custom of eating at Chinese restaurants on Christmas, but I could be wrong. See Aswang's comment about "so Jew."