I used to think Spanglish was just a silly pseudo-language I spoke amongst my fellow Spanish students. Now that Spanish and English are constantly mixing, Spanglish has really become a sort of dialect. If you speak Spanish as a second language and learned it formally, you might actually have trouble with the mixture.
The Easy Stuff
I found that the Mexican-Americans I worked with when I was a teacher spoke mostly in Spanish. Their Spanglish was limited to modern words, such as “email” or words that never had to use back home, like “field trip.” I learned to feel each person out, slipping in English words (with a quick explanation in Spanish) and then continuing with the minor Spanglish.
I actually can see the logic in a lot of Spanglish. It takes forever to say “correo electrónico” so of course they switch to “email.” You’ll also find that when discussing pop culture, electronics, music, movies and things of that nature, the English words will become more and more frequent. The words are generally nouns, with the occasional adjective that just can’t be translated into Spanish very well. Sometimes you will hear “hacer” thrown in front of an English verb, such as “hacer sledding.” This is perfectly logical, because Latin American countries don’t really have a use for the word “sledding,” right?
When Spanglish Gets Serious
There are two basic groups that take Spanglish to a whole new level – American born/raised children of immigrants and Puerto Ricans.
Kids who have Spanish speaking parents but grow up in the US speak incredible Spanglish. At home, they most likely speak only Spanish, while at school they speak only English. Of course, thanks to the closeness of the Latino families and communities, they are bound to be thrown together with plenty of other kids in the exact same situation. This allows them to switch between Spanish and English as much as they want. They get to choose the best of both languages.
Puerto Ricans are very similar. They grow up speaking both Spanish and English. Yes, Spanish is the main language in Puerto Rico, but nowadays, you won’t find too many Puerto Ricans who don’t speak at least pretty decent English. Honestly, they almost have to – the entire country is in Spanglish.
The Argument About Spanglish: Language Pollution or Language Evolution?
Some Spanish speakers will argue that Spanglish is a polluted version of Spanish. They see Spanglish as a corruption of a language, one that has allowed Americanized culture to force itself into a beautiful language.
Others will argue that it is the natural evolution of a language. It is not at all uncommon for languages to adopt words from other languages. While Spanglish does take the fusion to a new level, is that really a bad thing?
Personally, I lean towards language evolution. I like the logic in meshing two languages when necessary. I also just think Spanglish is fun. However, I have to admit, when I hear hilarious grammar or English words spoken with a heavy Spanish speaking accent, I tend to laugh and think back to my textbooks, wondering what went wrong.
What do you think?
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