As the population of Hispanics in the United States continues to grow, the public becomes more aware of the use of the Spanish language. Most Hispanics living in the United States have embraced both the English and Spanish dialects hence the term “Spanglish.” Spanglish is an informal term used to refer to the blending of Spanish and English commonly used by bilingual speakers. The hybrid language is characterized by the use of loan words, code-switching, code-mixing and the use of semantics (Casielle-Suarez, 151).
In light of the growing popularity of Spanglish among Hispanics in the United States, there have been debates about the use of this English and Spanish hybrid. There has been pressure from movements pushing for the purpose of English only and criticism for public figures who use Spanish to address the public. Users of Spanglish not only face criticism from English speakers but also from monolingual speakers of Spanish. The mixture of these languages has been the subject of controversy among educators who view it as a form of deterioration. The term Spanglish, however, gives the impression that all Spanish used in the USA is mixed with English, thus separating Spanish speakers in the United States with others from the rest of the world. This article, therefore, suggests the term Spanglish should not be used to describe the famous Spanish used in the US.
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However, the word Spanglish should be appropriated as a badge of pride regarding identity (Zentella, 214). Zentella argues that the term’s intention is not to denote the language as a hybrid, but to describe a way in which tongues are used. In her book, Zentella explains how Puerto Ricans in New York use both dialects and its application in conversational and communicative strategies (Zentella, 215). In her book, she particularly alluded to the code-switching applied between the two languages, which she used as the primary characterization of Spanglish. She was also keen to point out the difference between code-switching and borrowing words.
Additionally, an article by Alvarez highlights the positive aspect of using Spanglish as a source of pride for Puerto Ricans raised in Manhattan (Alvarez). The article points out the prominence of the use of Spanglish on favorite TV shows and magazines. She also suggests that Spanglish will increase in prominence as second and third generations of Americans of Hispanic descent occupy roles that are more visible in entertainment. Scholars go further to emphasize that Spanglish is not only found in one on one conversations but also in comedies, movies, songs, social media and all manners of artistic expression(Casielle-Suarez, 151).
However, the very term Spanglish already refers to a hybrid hence prone to ambiguity and a lot of misunderstanding. The word itself is a product of the combination of the names of two languages, and one would not be mistaken to assume that Spanglish is also a mixture of the two.
The term Spanglish mainly has negative and informal connotations when used. The word is used primarily on Latinos who rarely use Spanish for writing (Ottheguy & Stern, 86). Furthermore, when politicians, media personalities, and clergy use Spanish, it is seldom referred to as Spanglish. The authors insist that the xenophobic tendencies in American society should be an impetus for replacing the term Spanglish with a more descriptive name. In many cases what is currently called Spanglish is merely popular Spanish. As such, this understanding sheds light on the nature and use of Spanglish.
Spanglish is used as a term of derogation to describe the manner in which Latinos in the United States speak. It is also a reflection of attitudes towards Hispanic and used as a tool of alienation (Ottheguy & Stern, 97) in many social situations. It is used to describe a messy hybrid of Spanish and English that people trying to learn a new language use. Furthermore, the term is ambiguous because sometimes it is used to describe a language while other times it is used to describe a way of speaking. In some contexts, it is also used to describe the fusion of cultures.
In conclusion, the term Spanglish should be rejected because of the potential political and social reasons. The word also alienates Spanish speakers in North America from Spanish speakers from the rest of the world by presenting the illusion that they speak a different language. In the current age of globalization, the knowledge of a widely known language serves as a competitive advantage. Latinos in America stand to gain more from saying they speak Spanish rather than Spanglish. Leaders of Hispanic origins do a disservice to immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries since it is used as a term of denigration. Through the history of immigration, immigrants from Latin America have always been demeaned and looked down on. The Spanish spoken by Latin Americans was seen as inferior since it was not Castilian. The scorn on how they expressed their language played a crucial role in the prejudices that many immigrants from Latin Americans still face up to today.
- Alvarez, Lizette. “It’s the Talk of Nueva York: The Hybrid Called Spanglish.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Mar. 1997.
- Casielles-Suárez, Eugenia. “Spanglish: The Hybrid Voice of Latinos in the United States.” Atlantis: Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies, vol. 39, no. 02, 2017, pp. 147–168.
- Otheguy, Ricardo, and Nancy Stern. “On so-Called Spanglish.” International Journal of Bilingualism, vol. 15, no. 1, 2010, pp. 85–100.
- Zentella, Ana Celia. Growing up bilingual: Puerto Rican children in New York. Blackwell, 1997.