Pros y contras del uso del Spanglish | Pros and cons of Spanglish use

spanglish_lab

–- This post was originally written in Spanish.  Scroll down in this post for the English translation! –-

Spanglish es la combinación del inglés y español.  Se escucha más con inmigrantes hispanos quienes tienen mucho tiempo viviendo en EUA; también se escucha con sus hijos y nietos.

He creado unas listas cortitas de los pros y contras del uso regular del Spanglish, basados en lo que he leido y visto.

PROS:

  1. Con Spanglish, básicamente tomamos las mejores palabras de cada idioma y las entrelazamos.  |  Ya que hay menos transiciones y traducciones torpes con el Spanglish, el flujo de las frases es más suave.
  2. Algunas palabras y frases simplemente suenan mejor, o son más facilmente comunicadas en un idioma más que en el otro.  |  Por eso, Spanglish puede ser más apropiado que estrictamente inglés o español para la conversación.
  3. En hogares y comunidades hispanos ubicados en EUA y por la frontera, el Spanglish es una parte esencial de la cultura.  |  Es común y también útil porque en muchos casos, todos entienden lo que los demás están diciendo, y saben responder.

Sin embargo, siento que hay muchas desventajas al uso regular del Spanglish.

CONTRAS:

  1. A los inmigrantes hispanos quienes se acostumbran al Spanglish se les empiezan a olvidar muchas frases y palabras del español.
  2. De los inmigrantes hispanos, la segunda o tercera generación que se acostumbra a escuchar el Spanglish muchas veces nunca dominan ni el inglés ni el español comprehensivamente.
  3. Internacionalmente, Spanglish es muy poco útil.  |  Aparte de EUA y sus territorios, ¿en cuál otro país es prominente el Spanglish?
  4. Los inmigrantes quienes no les transmiten a sus hijos y sus nietos su idioma nativo en su totalidad (además del inglés), están poniendo limites al éxito de sus hijos.  |  Niños de Spanglish muchas veces experimentan dificultades en la escuela, y es más probable que ellos se pierden oportunidades importantes sociales y profesionales que los que saben los dos idiomas completamente.

Tengo que admitir que disfruto de escuchar el Spanglish, y entiendo porque Spanglish es tan práctico en conversación diario.  Desafortunadamente, nuestra preferencia sigue siendo tener los dos idiomas en nuestras vidas.  No fomentamos el uso de Spanglish en nuestra hogar.  Aron habla con nuestro hijo D en español, yo le hablo al niño en inglés, y Aron y yo hablamos español entre los dos.  Corregimos la gramática de D en cualquier idioma apropiado, sin mezclar los dos idiomas.  Hay momentos en los cuales se me olvidan ciertas palabras en inglés, o cuando no estoy segura de la manera en que debo expresar algo en español — pero entonces es cuando me pongo a aprender más, buscando la información en un libro/en línea o haciendo muchas preguntas hasta que haya encontrado las palabras indicadas.

Lo he dicho antes, y lo diré de nuevo: heredarles los idiomas nativos a los niños en el hogar desde su nacimiento no sólamente es fácil, pero también es uno de los mejores obsequios que les podemos dar para sus futuros.  Cuando el Spanglish se convierte al idioma más aceptado de EUA y México, quizás me cambie de opinión — aunque no creo que ésto vaya a ocurrir durante mi vida.

Dígame Ud., ¿cuál es su respuesta al uso del Spanglish?  ¿Lo utiliza Ud. en su casa, con sus amigos, o en ciertas situaciones para mejorar la comunicación?

————————- English translation: ————————-

Spanglish is the combination of both English and Spanish languages.  We hear it most from Hispanic immigrants who have spent a long time in the U.S.; we also hear it from their children and grandchildren.

I’ve created short lists of pros and cons of regular Spanglish use based on what I have read and witnessed.

PROS:

  1. With Spanglish, you are essentially taking the best words from each language and stringing them together.  | Since there are fewer awkward transitions and strange translations, sentence flow is much smoother.
  2. Some terms just sound better, or are more easily expressed in one language over the other.  |   This is why Spanglish can be more fitting than strictly English or Spanish, for conversation.
  3. In Hispanic households and communities located in the U.S. and along the southern border, Spanglish is part of the culture.  |  It is common and handy because in most cases, everyone understands what is being said, and knows how to respond.

However, I feel there are some major disadvantages to regular Spanglish use.

CONS:

  1. Native Spanish speakers who become accustomed to Spanglish begin to forget accurate words and phrases in Spanish.
  2. Second and third generations of native Spanish speakers who are used to hearing/speaking Spanglish often never master English or Spanish vocabulary comprehensively.
  3. Internationally, Spanglish is of little use.  |  In what other country is Spanglish prominent, aside from the U.S. and its territories?
  4. Immigrants who neglect to pass on their native languages in their entirety (in addition to English), are limiting their children’s chances for success.  |  Spanglish children often experience difficulty in school, and they are more likely to miss out on important social and career opportunities than those who know both languages completely.

I have to admit that I enjoy listening to Spanglish conversations, and I understand why Spanglish is so practical in everyday language.  Unfortunately, though, the preference for Aron and me remains: we choose to have both English and Spanish in our lives.  We don’t encourage the use of Spanglish in our household.  Aron speaks to our son D in Spanish, I speak to D in English, and Aron and I speak to one another in Spanish.  We correct D’s grammar in whichever language appropriate, without mixing the two.  There are times when I forget words in English or when I am not sure how to describe something in Spanish — but that is when I take an active part in my own learning and either research online/in a book or ask a lot of questions until I have found the right words.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: passing down native languages in the home is not only easy to do from a child’s birth, but it is also one of the biggest gifts we can give our children for their futures.  When Spanglish becomes the most accepted language in the U.S. and Mexico, I may change my opinion — though I don’t see this happening during my lifetime.

What is your response to Spanglish use?  Do you use Spanglish in your home, with friends, or in certain types of situations in order to improve communication?

120 thoughts on “Pros y contras del uso del Spanglish | Pros and cons of Spanglish use

  1. I think that it’s important for children to learn the proper language, grammar, spelling and all, whether that be English or Spanish as opposed to the hybrid of Spanglish. Also, I think it’s harder to correct for proper usage of English or Spanish, if you learn Spanglish first. …..So until Spanglish becomes more mainstream, I agree with you that it’s better stick with English and Spanish–they’re more recognized langauges. Congrats on being FP!🙂

    • I agree wholeheartedly! Old habits are tough to break, so best to start with the good ones while the kids are young… then at least they have the foundation, and will decide what to do with it on their own. Thank you!!

  2. Hi “Güera Pecosa”. Good thought about Spanglish. I’m mexican, and I use it with friends. I’d really like to use english completely, but because of some words I forget or don’t come up to my mind I end up using spanglish. I guess it is something I can’t help.

    I completely agree with you regarding the next generations who use spanglish without even know a single thing about english. It is just a hindrance in their communication. Nice article, by the way.

    • Thank you so much for your perspective (and the compliment)! I’m not sure how much time you lived in Mexico, or have been living in the U.S., but I know it can be very easy to forget words or phrases. English is my native language, but especially when I first returned from MX I would have to pause SO many times in English conversation with family and friends just to try to figure out which word I was supposed to be using. Many of my thoughts are in Spanish, too! Our Mexican family in the U.S. uses a lot of Spanglish, and I tease them (I shouldn’t, but it’s so fascinating to me) because I remember a lot of Spanish words that they can’t; those words are fresher in my mind…

      Is there a time when you use strictly Spanish? Which language do you speak at home?

      • I’m mexican, my mother tongue is Spanish. Never been in the states, but I’m part of a community of English-speaking people. There are American natives as well as mexicans who once lived in the states.

        So most of my time I speak spanish. When watching TV, movies, using certain software, etc, my main choice is English though.

        • It sounds like you are in an ideal situation, then! What are the most common types of employment in your community? The only people I knew in Mexico who spoke excellent English were those who had a lot of education (like my friends at Tec), and many of them had been on foreign exchanges to the U.S. to practice. Would love to hear more about your community if you’re interested in sharing.

          • Well, you know, it’s pretty interesting. Some of them have studied a lot, some of us have truncated our studies, some are american. Some are still learning, some of us already know english. I don’t work in a place where I use my english, though I’m looking for one. But some of them work in international companies and they really use their english.

            There’s a thing we all have in common. Besides of english. We are all Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we have regular meetings in the language. We invite other people to join us if they wish and try our best to understand the info we are sharing in this tongue.

            So I can say for sure that the ‘community’ I’m in is interesting. What do you think?

          • What a blessing it must be to know a group of people with such a range of backgrounds but with important common connections. A couple of our most lovely neighboring families back in Mexico are Witnesses as well🙂 With your language abilities, the world is open to you!

            Any specific direction you are hoping to go, job-wise? This is something I am actually struggling with lol…

          • Thanks! JWitnesses are really struggling to reach people from any sort of background. You might have caught sight of them offering non-English literature in the streets🙂

            Now, personally, I’m looking forward to become a translator. I’m currently volunteering in two projects: Twitter and Fedora (a Linux OS).

            Actually a friend of mine just recommended me for a job to his boss, with which he has close connections. I’m not into translating professionally right now, so I don’t have a lot of background to support myself, but I’m really hoping to get hired😀

  3. I understood the Spanish portion without any difficulty, but the English read like gibberish. It truly is interesting how one language dominates your mind. I always have tremendous problems trying to understand the dialect of Americans, but I suppose that is the reason son of us are still learning. One day, I hope to be affluent in the English language. From what I can comprehend, it truly is beautiful.

    • English is awkward in so many ways (too many rules and even more exceptions!), but it is so common around the world that most of us need it! Thank you for your response!

      El inglés es torpe en tantas maneras (¡demasiadas reglas y aún más excepciones!), pero es tan común en nuestro mundo que la mayoría de nosotros lo necesita. ¡Gracias por su comentario!

  4. My father-in-law spoke Spanish. He learned it at Colombia University and then went on scholarship to the University of Chile, in Chile. He spoke not only Spanish but dialogues. Different countries have different words. Although a Cuban will understand someone from Argentina there different words and interpretations of those words. Alfred worked very hard to learn these many aspects of Spanish. He would think Spanglish is okay but would really not take on. He also spoke Brazilian Portuguese, Philipino Tangali, French, and Italian. When he came home from a South American trip it took him a second not to speak Spanish. He actually translated Spanish to English in his head.

    • That is so cool! I would really love to learn more languages, but for now I’m only trying to master Spanish. You are completely right about the various interpretations of words — even among Mexicans from different regions of MX, words can mean different things, and pronunciation is different (a bit like in the U.S., where there is a distinction between northern dialect vs. southern, etc.).

      My husband is pretty good at pointing out to me where people come from, based on their Spanish speech, but that is one thing I’m still working on personally. Hopefully, before long, we will be able to travel more and then I will be able to better distinguish and pick up on the dialects. Thanks so much for your insight!!

  5. Congrats on being FP’d.🙂 I learned Spanish as a missionary for the LDS (mormon) church. I learned it via a 10 week crash course. When I got to California (my destination for my mission), I quickly realized Spanglish would be what I was ACTUALLY speaking. I have a tender place in my heart for Spanglish because it reminds me of that beautiful time in my life where I was dedicated to being a missionary. I do regret that I didn’t learn a lot of vocabulary that maybe I would have, but ultimately, I still am able to communicate in Spanish with most people I get a chance to even 13 years later. But, I am a stay at home mom, so opportunities don’t come often. But, when they do? I’m proud of the Spanish/Spanglish that I know!

    • It’s great that you were able to use Spanglish to meet your needs; it really is just so darn practical that way!! Glad you still take advantage of those moments to use what you have learned. That is a huge part of life, in my opinion🙂 Would love to hear more about your mission, as that is one of the things in which I have always wanted to become involved. Thanks for your response!

        • How long was the mission? Have you done others? What were the goals for the mission? I am wondering whether I should work through my church or through an international organization to get started. The thing is that I really have a heart for the people of Mexico, so I would want to focus on spreading education either in Mexico or in surrounding countries… but there is also much danger involved when we talk about urban communities driven by a violent culture… really I am just not sure where to start. Anything you want to tell me is appreciated!!

  6. Pingback: Pros y contras del uso del Spanglish | Pros and cons of Spanglish use | Ellen Anne

  7. Oh my! I actually began laughing with the first pic… read it out loud to my husband [whose dad still talks to him in Spanglish!]. And then, we smiled at each other… great post, and since I talk a lot about our tri-lingual household [yeap, we speak Portuñol, English and Portuguese at the house!], i’m sharing your post – congrats on being Freshly Pressed – saludos desde La Paz, Bolivia!

  8. So glad I found your blog! I am Mexican-American, living in the States. I spent a lot of time in Mexico when I was young (every summer), and went to a Mexican school in Guadalajara for a year when I was 14 where I finally learned Spanish “all the way” . Spanglish cracks me up. But I think both languages should be learned properly for trips across the border, either way, and being able to communicate with the locals. My husband and I flow smoothly between Spanish and English as the mood and conversation goes. We use Spanglish when we’re joking around.

    • Thanks for your response, Angeline! Do you currently live where there is a large Hispanic population? From your experience on both sides of the border, do you think we will be seeing more U.S. folks using English, Spanish, or Spanglish in the coming years?

      • Hola, Guera. I live in Northern California near San Francisco. The Hispanic population is large in California; I lived down in Southern Cal for about five years recently and the Hispanic community there is much more concentrated than up here. I actually work, telecommute, for a company out of Orange County in SoCal and about 90% of my patient caseload are Mexican residents or Mexican American. Even the pretty recently arrived start with the Spanglish quickly (no tengo rideh …I don’t have a ride, etc). I think Spanglish is where the U.S. folks are headed for.

        • Hi, Angeline! Thank you for sharing more perspective about the language in your part of the country. We got a lot of the “Oye, ¿me das un ride?” etc. in México, too! Despite my criticism of Spanglish, it truly is wonderful that we are able to more quickly close those communication gaps and see people moving forward in their opportunities. Thanks again.

  9. I use Spanglish all the time at home. I am from Puerto Rico, living in La Florida. I say things like “Estoy full”. “chequear el laundry”, y “catcha la bola”

  10. I had a wonderful Spanish prof in college whose kids spoke this kind of Spanglish a lot; he called it “code switching” and said it showed good fluency in both languages to be able to switch back and forth so effortlessly. I think in Spanglish sometimes, but probably only because I don’t remember enough of my Spanish. Reading it is much easier than speaking it for me anymore.

    • Hi, Mei-Mei! You’re right — code switching in its true form really does demonstrate fluency. So in the case of your professor’s children, they probably learned both English and Spanish well — and maybe other languages also — and are comfortable going back and forth (it’s crazy how a multi-lingual mind can do that!). This is what we are hoping to achieve with our son.

      Unfortunately, people have become accustomed to simply “filling in the blanks” with whichever word/phrase they know and sticking with it, not fully learning that vocabulary. Spanglish of today seems to be more of a “filling in the blanks” language with some word adaptations mixed in. Humans are creatures of habit, and the more we simply fill in those blanks instead of snatching up the English-Spanish dictionary to stay accurate, the more likely we are to forget those key words/phrases.

      How much Spanish did you study?

      The fact that you are thinking in Spanglish is a good sign. I would encourage you to watch some Spanish-language movies to test yourself and to maybe pick back up on the language you have. Any Cantinflas movie gets my vote, though even my Spanish-native husband sometimes doesn’t catch everything the comedian says🙂 Thanks for your comment!

      • I’ve studied Spanish since I was growing up in Florida, but I’ve never been really fluent. You’re right, I think my Spanglish is a lazy way of not pushing myself into full immersion of the language, which is really not something to be encouraged. Spanish movies are a great idea, thanks! And I think it’s great that you have a plan for raising your son bilingually. I hope I would do the same, if I ever had kids, even if it involved Spanglish🙂

  11. I have engaged in both Spanglish and Franglais, but as more of a form of colloquialism between fellow American language students. English words were readily substituted when your command of the foreign language vocabulary fell short. Unfortunately it is not an acceptable practice in the business world of any of the languages. Best continue your studies and be able to use each language well independently. Fred/Federico/Frederic…

    • Franglish — I am wondering what that would sound like. Could you give me an example? Now, I don’t know any French, but I am curious as to how that flows. Thank you for your insight, Federico!

  12. This is such and intriguing and provocative post! We don’t really speak Spanglish in my family – we code-switch. Sometimes you just don’t remember the word in one language so you stick in the word in the second. Or someone answers a Spanish question in English and we automatically switch. You really have to have strong skills in both languages to jump back and forth and maintain the integrity of the syntax (word order) and be comprehensible to other bilinguals. Spanglish to me means simply the development of a dialect of Spanish. Code-switching better describes what bicultural bilinguals do as they seek to communicate exactly what they mean.

  13. Primeramente tenemos que ver como people define Spanglish. Por example, mi profesor de linguistics defined Spanglish as Spanish spoken in the United States (mol vs. centro comercial). A lo que usted se esta refierendo is code switching which people commonly associate to being Spanglish. Code switching requiere un extenso conocimiento de ambos idiomas. Cuando una persona cambia de idioma por falta de lexicon eso es un hablante usando una interlengua que es común entre estudiantes de un segundo idioma y no es igual que code switching. Code switching requires a speaker to know the grammatical structures well enough to know where to insert the words to its proper position. Se tiene que aprender los dos idiomas por igual para poder ser eficaz en el uso de Spanglish.

    Spanglish is form of expression and shows the duality of identity and how the person is navigating between dos mundos y dos culturas. Para mi es algo muy natural y lo uso frecuentemente en mis poemas.

    Language loss is common among immigrant children because assimilation results in giving up one’s culture (language). Sin embargo no tiene necesariamente que ver con el conocimiento o enseñanza del idioma. Hay muchos otros factores que afectan el bilingüismo de la segunda generación.

    • Hi, Flor! Thanks for your comment and your perspective. If you’d like, read my response to Mei-Mei just a few comments above.

      There may be various definitions of Spanglish, but I don’t agree completely with the broad one provided by your professor. The definition I used in the post is the most common, at least for where I live –similar to that of Mirriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spanglish . Spanglish as I know it does include quite a bit of code-switching, as this is one way to effectively communicate a message to those who know the language(s).

      I would love to read any poems you have written. Do you have a link to any of them?

  14. I enjoyed reading your post and agree with your perspective. While children will code-switch as they are learning both languages, I agree with you about the benefits of encouraging (and being an example of) learning both languages excellently.

  15. Reblogged this on The Education Cafe and commented:
    This blog post takes a good look at mixing two languages. Since many followers of The Education Cafe are bringing up children bilingually in countries around the world, I thought you might like to have a look at this parent’s perspective. Unless you read Spanish, scroll down through her post where the explanation appears in English. Check out her pros and cons. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  16. I am in fourth grade and have taken Spanish as my 3rd Language. I am only just a beginner and I find the language very interesting. Sometimes, when me and my classmates need to ask a question but do not know how to say so in Spanish, we use Spanglish. A simple example would be: “Professera, what pagina numeros we hacer now era? I don’t know if it’s right. Can you suggest any Spanish or Spanglish beginner books to me?🙂

    • Hey Tapasmi! I’m sure you’re doing a great job with Spanish. As far as books, I would suggest diving in and reading any Spanish language children’s book you can get your hands on! When you immerse yourself in the language, you pick it up much more easily. Some favorites in our home include:

      – ‘Huevos verdes con jamón’ (Spanish ‘Green Eggs and Ham’) by Dr. Seuss
      – ‘La casa adormecida’ by Audrey Wood
      – ‘¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta?’ (which also has the English translation alongside it) by Carmen Tafolla

      In these above books, there is a lot of repetition, so you are more likely to remember the words. If you are looking for something more advanced, try ‘Sí, puedes’ by Jorge Posada. It is lengthy, but certainly worth your time.

      Read the books aloud to the best of your ability. Look up and write down any words you aren’t familiar with, and use them as appropriate in class discussion, and you will start to remember them.

      If you are looking to buy the books, amazon.com has a decent selection of bilingual and Spanish-language books — just search for “Spanish books” and if you’d like, “Spanish children’s books.” Stay away from strictly-vocabulary books, as you probably already own a English-Spanish dictionary and are already learning lots of great words in class.

      If you’re not looking to spend the money, hopefully there is a public library near where you live. Ask the librarian for books in Spanish. At our local libraries here, there is a very, very small Spanish section, but we do find quite a few great books there, too.

      Don’t be afraid to start with books that are targeted toward kids younger than you, and work your way up as you see fit. Ask a LOT of questions to your Spanish professor and any fluent Spanish speakers you know.

      You can also look for popular media sites online. If you have any favorite DVDs, check to see on the back if there is Spanish audio and/or Spanish subtitles…

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. Thanks for your comment, and best wishes!

      — Güera

  17. This is not just a phenomenon that occurs in North and South America. I live in Spain and I see more and more Spanglish all the time. It’s especially prevalent in adverts (one type of sausage is advertised as ‘el only one’) and in packaging (Doritos have a special version to ‘dippear’ the crisps).
    Younger people also use English all the time in texts and instant messaging. It’s not just because it’s perceived as cool. English words are generally much shorter than Spanish so take less effort to type.
    On the other hand, British speakers are using more and more Spanish words in newspaper articles etc so the traffic is not just one way.

      • I live in Ecuador, and Spanglish in advertising is definitely prevalent here as well. Also, it’s pretty common for businesses to have Spanglish names – for example, a popular pharmacy chain here is called Medicity (a mixture of the Spanish word “medicina” and the English word “city”). I’ve also seen the word “dippear” on more than one occasion!

        I love learning about Spanglish. My boyfriend is Ecuadorian and I’m American, and we definitely catch ourselves mixing the two languages all the time. We’re trying to do better about sticking to one language or the other during conversations so that we can both improve our skills in the other’s language!

        • It is amazing how our minds jump from one language to another without pausing sometimes, but I think it’s a good challenge to target one language at a time and use Spanglish with people who know both English and Spanish. Feel absolutely free to leave any advice for us about how we can work on maintaining good habits! Thanks so much for your input, Ashley!!

  18. Interesting post! Bilingual or trilingual or whatever – the importance is to know the languages properly first. There are many advantages in having several abilities here, but I agree on your thoughts of what is not that good too. My husband’s sister is married to a Swiss and they speak three languages at home – never mixing. This has turned out very well for the children.

    In Sweden we are having trouble with Swenglish. Many young people cannot express themselves without using English words in every sentence. Even using English sentences or parts of English sentences when they speak. This is not about common loan-words – this is a big part of their communication and everyday language. They simply cannot find the Swedish word. The results are of course a loss of words and less understanding of Swedish texts. This is very obvious even in newspapers and media…

    Being a teacher of both languages, Swedish and English, this has become a real problem and I’m getting worried about the status of Swedish in our country.

    • I have so much respect for folks who have 3 or more languages going in the household!! Are there certain times of day/circumstance in which your sister-in-law’s family uses each language? Do they use whichever they desire at any particular moment, just making sure not to mix?

      I’m glad to have a teacher’s perspective. What you describe with Swenglish sounds like what we are experiencing here with Spanish and English. I would like to see the languages remain intact — though I wonder if it is necessary for this change to be occurring…

  19. Fascinating topic…and congrats on being FPed.

    My husband is of Mexican ancestry but born and raised in the U.S, by a family that never spoke Spanish with him so he would not (as he does not) have any sort of accent. He understands Spanish words but has a very limited speaking vocabulary. It’s pretty funny as when we were in Mexico I — the white Canadian gringa, fuera, guera — spoke Spanish and he, Sr. Lopez, did not, which caused much confusion. I also speak French and the year I lived in France, like many of my friends, began to lose my English, like the day I offered to meet my mother at the plane-station…

  20. I love it. It’s like a secret code, just for people comfortable with both languages. But what do you think of it in movies? I’m always interested in how movies decide when and what to subtitle when the actors slip in and out of Spanglish.

    • I know, right? More exclusive than pig latin, yet more widely acceptable!

      As far as movies are concerned, I personally love that they use Spanglish because it really is smoother and more appropriate sometimes. Often, it is funnier that way, too. But for those who don’t like to read subtitles and who don’t know English well enough (like my husband), it can be very frustrating… and a turn-off from watching the movie at all.

      The movie that came to mind immediately when I read your comment was ‘Spanglish’ — I had seen the movie in English previously, and that was cool… but then we watched the movie with Spanish audio, and it was awful!! It didn’t make sense, seeing as the gringo was meant to speak English and the Latina was meant to speak Spanish (and later learn English)…

      I agree, it’s curious to think how they decide on those details, which can make or break the movie for some audiences. The more we blend languages and cultures, and the more movies we make that are centered around the U.S./Mexico dynamic, the more we are forced to choose… and hope it comes out for the best!

  21. This is the part of the reason why I can’t speak Spanish fluently. I grew up in Miami so I never felt the need to speak Spanish in full sentences. It’s unique but a biting reminder of why I can’t apply to those jobs that require fluent Spanish.

    • Thanks for your response! I have never been to Miami, but I can imagine that is the perfect location for Spanglish to flourish.

      You make a great point about employment — I used to work at an entry-level job in which I earned $3.50/hour more than others, just for my ability to speak Spanish! I was grateful for the pay, but the best part was that I enjoyed practicing my Spanish and speaking to clients all over the country! I would like to see Hispanic youth taking more advantage of the opportunity to soak up their families’ native language, but I also realize that this is not something that is important to everyone.

      I’ve browsed your site, and I’m anxious to set aside some time to read more thoroughly🙂 Saludos

  22. I am 100% guilty of Spanglish. It’s a quick way to get your point across. I speak spanglish to my daughter and she understands me perfectly, but she won’t speak spanish. Weird huh?

        • I have heard that once kids enter school, a lot of times they lose interest in the language spoken at home… I’m not sure if you have seen such a transition with her over the years or if there are other circumstances that lead to the refusal to speak (and I am very interested in your thought on this). But don’t give up trying; one day she will be thankful that you are providing her with this chance to be more well rounded! Best wishes!

          • I talk to her in spanish all the time! I ask her all the time why won’t she even try to speak it, she says she can’t. As an elective in highschool, she got Spanish 1 LOL. Let see how it goes!

          • I predict that they are going to kick her out of 101, and move her up, when she starts demonstrating that she has more familiarity of the language than her teachers😉

  23. As a “gringa” Spanish speaker, I use Spanglish with my Latina/Hispanic friends who’ve known me (off and on) since high school. When I got into the City of Miami (little Havana etc.), I use strict Spanish out of respect.

  24. English has married to almost all language to produce a (new lang)lish. Even in US English is spoken with many flavors to it! And guess what we Americans would like to think English is an american language and Brits took it from here during their colonial era

    • Thanks for your comment, Yatin. LOL, you’re completely right — and most languages have borrowed/altered terms. Countries like the U.S. are known for their spectrum of residents and visitors from distinct cultures, but with growing ability to communicate internationally, language is changing around the globe. Do you think this is a good or bad thing?

  25. I agree with you, I would rather teach my kids both languages instead of a mix of them. I guess that speaking spanglish does not count as being bilingual…. at the end spanglish will be accepted only in a limited community of friends and relatives but when they hit college and professional environments will potentially struggle. I leave this little contribution I made (in Spanish) about a different problem we are facing when speaking only one language, hope you like it. http://wp.me/p30iMu-1H

  26. I did not grow up speaking Spanglish in my house, but I did grow up speaking “franglais.” My first sentence was “Ou est le book?” according to my mother. My father is from France but I was born and raised in the States. My parents only spoke to me in French when I was a toddler, bought French-Canadian Disney movies (before the days of DVDs and switching language settings), and French books. When I was 5, I was sent to a bilingual French-American School (there are a lot of them in the States, never understood why there are no Spanish-American schools around or none that I know of personally) where I learned to read and write. I am completely fluent, I don’t speak French like many descendants of Hispanic immigrants speak Spanish and I can easily communicate with my French side of the family.

    I now can speak Spanish as well (lived in Spain for two years) but I’m not sure I grasp Spanglish very well, too confusing for me!

    • Hey Amelie! Thank you for your comment. I think it’s great that your parents stuck with French at home and that you went to a bilingual school, even!! I have been hearing more and more about bilingual Span-Eng schools, but I think they are only recently becoming more common as we in the U.S. are seeing a wave of Hispanic immigants who are still struggling to get ahead academically due to communication barriers. I am not sure about schools near us, but we hear mostly about the schools opening in Texan cities, and they are in very high demand!

  27. Interesting point. Very well said and I’d have to agree with you…

    When we speak to my two year old daughter we use either English or Spanish. Usually I use English since it’s my native language and my husband uses Spanish. We do use Spanglish when we speak to each other. Spanish is our native language as a couple, but since we got married and moved to the US and aren’t around many other hispanic people I have gotten lazy and speak Spanglish. I really feel like speaking Spanglish to him has indeed limited my Spanish vocabulary because now when I need to say something I just switch languages when before I would look it up or describe it in Spanish until someone else supplied me with the word I needed. It’s interesting because even though we do use Spanglish with each other, it’s pretty limited. He hates it when we visit his family in other states and they use it because he doesn’t have enough English vocabulary to grasp his hispanic family’s version of Spanglish and he misses out on huge chunks of the conversation.

  28. I don’t live in the states, so I don’t hear Spanglish where I live. However, I did take a class in Uni about Spanish dialects and we discussed Spanglish. I think it’s a cool way to express yourself even further with both languages, but I would be if it would eventually replace proper Spanish/English.
    I live in Israel, and I think the level of Hebrew spoken by the younger generation is embarrassing.
    Language is a big part of any culture, and I’d hate for it to be lost.

  29. I am half Greek and half Spanish. I was raised to be more Greek, but as an adult I took it upon myself to learn the Spanish language, culture, traditions and listen to the music. That said, I think Spanglish (especially as a New Yorker) is a huge part of how the Latino community communicates and if that’s how people choose to communicate, then we need to embrace it, IMHO. Language has developed and morphed over the years, Spanglish is just one of myriad variations on language.

  30. I am British and my boyfriend is Mexican, we live in the UK and in the house we speak a strange mix that probably isn’t really Spanglish. I agree with teresabrucebooks, it’s like a secret code between us. We do a lot of translating English words or brands into literal Spanish when talking about them, like the bookmakers William Hill we call Guillermo Colina, or a mix of the two conjugations like tidy-up-ear etc. I love the way we talk to each other in this little code, and it really makes you think about both languages because you’re constantly playing with them and making up words. I think as we’re both fluent in each other’s native language we are comfortable to just play with them and we understand each other perfectly.
    We talk about languages and the future and would definitely raise our children as bi-lingual, so I need to get really good at Spanish by then. It’s an interesting point that’s made about children losing interest in the home-language when they reach school – I know a few children that understand perfectly the language but refuse to speak it. I love being part of this multi-cultural world!

    • Hi Katherine! Thanks for your response! The “Guillermo Colina part” is especially cool… I only sometimes try to translate the proper names for my husband (he is still a beginner with English — so I definitely should, but don’t always think to do so). You are totally in a good place to know one another’s language, and I love that you guys can play around with them in that way. It’s one of those things that not only keeps your mind sharp but also makes your relationship unique and fun. If Spanglish becomes an official language, your household/children can be at least tri-lingual🙂

  31. I live and teach in Tucson, AZ, a veritable capital of Spanglish use. I am a Spanish Language Learner (Teaching ESL), so when I attempt to communicate with students and parents who speak Spanish, I often get mixed results…usually snickers and corrections. Each area of Mexico, like our own country, has its own regional dialect, correct? Well, it is further complicated up here with the growing usage of “Spanglish”. So if I try to be proper, it is hard to get my point across, or I am thought to be “quaint”. Thanks for sharing your insights!

    • Ronni, I appreciate your comment. I haven’t had a lot of negative reactions to my proper use of Spanish, but some weird ones, yes lol. And I agree that it can be difficult to get your point across sometimes that way, too.

      It is crazy how the various regions of Mexico, and those among other Hispanic countries, use distinct words and slang… I would compare it to maybe U.S. English, UK English, and Australian English, with all the respective regional dialects being different, too. Many people don’t think about how expansive the language is before they snicker. Keep on with the proper usage!! After all, much like with U.S.-born folks and English, there are plenty of Hispanic folks who honestly aren’t as familiar with correct Spanish grammar, verb conjugation, etc. as you are😉 Thanks for sharing your views!

  32. Pingback: Pros y contras del uso del Spanglish | Pros and cons of Spanglish use | I Teach English Language Learners/Enseño a los estudiantes que aprenden inglés/Tanítok angol nyelvtanulók/ मैं अंग्रेजी भाषा सीखने वा

  33. Code switching is inevitable and it’s the very reason English and Spanish both have so many foreign words in them. Hopefully aprovechar will enter into English soon because I really really need it.

      • In some sense. English is obviously going to be very different in 100 years than it is today. However, I think the internet and TV have a very strong homogenizing influence which will slow the rate of language change, which has been giving people something to complain about for thousands of years.

  34. Ugh, I understood most of the Spanish and then punked out and went to the English translation when I saw words I didn’t understand.

    Tengo que practicar!

  35. Reblogged this on Thoughts on a Train and commented:
    Similar could be said of Franglais for those of us who studied en français but live or work in bilingual environments. When I was studying German and Spanish while doing French-to-English translation work, I was getting to a point where some of my sentences came out quadrilingual (is that a word?) with the occasional Arabic word tossed in. How confusing is that?!

    • As someone who only knows 2 languages, I can only imagine that to be very frustrating… but funny (at times)! I know I giggle at myself when my mind switches on me. Are you still using all 4 languages??

      Thanks for your comment and reblog. I am already thouroughly enjoying what I read in your blog! Take care.

  36. Pingback: Pros y contras del uso del Spanglish | Pros and cons of Spanglish use | Thoughts on a Train

  37. I’m a full-time traveler, journalist, word-nerd, and second-generation Hispanic, so I can relate to this on so many levels. I think there are deeper issues here (at least for a word-nerd like me) and I believe we are asking the wrong questions.

    Spanglish may never be a “recognized language”… but that’s not the point. I see Spanglish as a form of slang, and it’s certainly used in far more places than the US and Mexico (Canada and Argentina are two examples of countries I’ve lived in where it was widely used, and as American influences seep into many other Latin American countries, it is perhaps more prevalent than ever). It also exists in different forms (Spanish + French, which is prevalent in Quebec).

    Slang serves a function: uniting a community. In this case, it is used as a form of identification and bonding among second, third, fourth generations of Hispanics living in a predominantly English-speaking country. It is the language of a community that may not fully identify with being “English” or being “Spanish”… so they’ve carved out this little space for themselves. I think there’s value in that, and there’s room for it.

    I’m a part of this mixed community and it sometimes annoys me that we are neither fully embraced into the Hispanic community (considered gringos), nor the English-speaking community (considered immigrants). In some ways, looking down on Spanglish and dismissing it as lazy also dismisses who we are and perpetuates the idea that we are simply not good enough for either ethnicity. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I do believe that language holds that kind of power.

    You commented above, “I think that is the biggest part of what bothers me — the loss of language.” I don’t look at it that way because language is always evolving. There aren’t many people mourning the loss of King James English or Ancient Greek these days, so maybe years from now our rejection of Spanglish will look just as ridiculous as someone walking around speaking like Shakespeare.

    All forms of language have ultimately been bastardized in some way, though I prefer to use the word “evolved”. That’s why I’m uncomfortable with arguments on language purity… because there’s no such thing. The Spanish language itself differs tremendously from country to country (I was born into El Salvador Spanish, but when I lived in Cuba I couldn’t understand anyone for a few weeks, same with Spain), so maybe the benefits of teaching Spanish at all are slightly exaggerated? Just some food for thought for the sake of debate.

    Does this mean we shouldn’t teach “real” Spanish at home? Absolutely not. Thanks to my parents, I am fluent in Spanish. Thanks to the country I grew up in, I am fluent in English. And thanks again to Canada, I am kinda-sorta fluent in French (It was mandatory in school for me all the way up to first year University).

    I love all forms of words and languages, and I certainly think you’re doing the right thing in teaching both. However, Spanglish is underestimated and undervalued in North American society. It is an evolution of language that should take its respectable place.

    Then again, I’m also a strong supporter of making up new words a la Urban Dictionary.

    One more note of encouragement to all parents trying to get their kids to learn a native language: Don’t ever give up. Someday (and it may be a long time from now), they will thank you. My parents only spoke Spanish at home and I learned English through school, even though I lived in an English-speaking country since before I could speak. I could read and write in Spanish before I knew a word of English.

    At first, I resented my parents for putting me in a position where I had to be in ESL in elementary (I had teachers who thought I had a learning disability because I couldn’t speak), but kids are fast learners and I picked up English via friends and school.

    By grade 7, my English speaking and writing skills were ranked at a grade 12 level in provincial testing—the highest in the class. When I was in high school, I published my first national newspaper article in English and went on to journalism school (first in my Hispanic family to attend University). This year, I published my first book. To date, I have exploited countless opportunities in both jobs and travel thanks to my Spanish edge.

    Spanish, English, French, Japanese, Spanglish, Gibberish… whatever you’ve got, pass it on to your kids.

    • Thanks for your comment, Vanessa, and congratulations on your achievement in publishing your first book!

      I’m not at all opposed to the incorporation of Spanglish, Franglais, etc. into any culture where it is needed. In all honesty, I love the way we evolve, share, and learn from one another; Spanglish is a means of doing those things, and I enjoy analyzing the language.

      At this point in time, though, I feel any slang should be a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, a native language such as English or Spanish.

      A major problem right now in the U.S. is that, as a whole — despite increasing awareness and comprehension of the situation — Hispanics are still lagging behind academically. There is a long list of reasons for this, but I believe the improvement of basic communication skills (including writing, which is greatly underappreciated across all cultures in the U.S.) can make a huge impact on the success of those in school, who will be soon entering the workforce, leading the world in which my son will be living, and educating our upcoming generations.

  38. As hispanic my self i’m guilty of Spanglish also. I do both code switching and occasionally use improper words such as “parkear” or “tachar”, which the correct words in spanish would be “estacionar” y “tocar” respectively. I really enjoyed your post and I also believe we need to teach our future generations the proper way to speak both english and spanish.

    quit-your-culture.com

  39. Hello, I am new to the blogging world. I see that you have a good audience on your blog. I am an author and I just published my autobiography. I self published so I need to market it on my own. I want to raise awareness about my book so that it can reach and impact as many people as possible. If you can put this on your blog for your readers I would greatly appreciate it. I see that you have quite the following and it would really help if I had somebody with experience to help me promote my book. Thank you!! If you can even go to my blog and ‘reblog’ my post about my book that would be awesome thank you so much!! Even if you can support me by reading my book that would be awesome!!

    http://www.createspace.com/4271634

    http://f4ischer.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/top-story-i-have-published-my-autobiography/

  40. Very enjoyable read! My parents fled Cuba in the late 50’s, but were both fluent in English and Spanish. I recall as a child we spoke both languages at home, which naturally morphed into Spanglish. Raised in the Bible Belt of the Carolinas, at that time there were few Latin -Americans in our area so I had nothing to compare to …. I thought my family was weird!! Thanks for bringing back smiles and memories!!

  41. I do understand that mixing two languages ends up by being the easy alternative, it’s like always having a back up without any efforts.

    I’ve been raised learning two languages too, Dutch and French.
    Ive always lived in french speaking countries so of course my French is good the only problem is that I always learnd Dutch through discussions with my family, just listening to them. I had never learn it’s basic grammar.

    Later on when I decided to study abroad in Dutch I realized that even though I could speak it almost perfectly – or so it seemed- it was very difficult for me to follow the classes. It was a vocabulary I wasn’t used too, more academic. For the writing part it was worse, I would make these little mistakes that a 10 year old would make. There was a weird contrast in between a 10 year old person’s way of writing and a 20 year old person’s way of thinking all mixed together.

    After a while I decided to switch to French and learn Dutch.
    The only remaining problem is that I have to unlearn my mistakes and learn things the right way which is very difficult.
    I started over, reading books for children for, they are great for that. And it feels like going back to childhood!
    I had to do these little exercices over and over again as if I was in primary school.
    But in the end it payed off !

    It is a great advantage to raise your children with two languages, the one thing is to make sure that they learn the grammar, have a diverse vocabulary and let them read books in both languages.

    • Wow, Stephanie, thanks so much for sharing your story! It must have been extremely tough starting from scratch, and I imagine many other people would be afraid to do so. I am glad you did. How long did it take you to feel like you were at the same level as your peers in Dutch?

      • It took a few months, the first 2 months are the hardest ones but once you get the basics right it gets easier and easier. I could feel much more at ease my writing I didn’t make mistakes anymore, the only thing left was vocabulary, for this it goes naturally with reading, talking with other people…

        So 2 months to get the basics and then you improve without really working on it. I can say that after 4 months I spoke and wrote Dutch fluently.

        The trick is to take a private teacher that could point out what you need to work on. Having classes with other people is not a good option, it brings your level down instead of improving it.

  42. It’s horrible for those of us trying to learn the language later in life as well. I can’t tell you how many times I ask someone what the word is for something and they’ve gotten so used to not using it that they hardly know.

    Muchas gracias por esto articulo!

  43. I really enjoyed reading your blog! I completely agree with you because I’m a Hispanic that always use the Spanglish with my family and friends. I feel a little guilty about it because sometimes it’s not helpful to use it.

    • Hey Nallely, don’t be hard on yourself; I really don’t think Spanglish is all bad, lol. It has its place, and I think when we are around folks who speak both languages fluently, then it’s easier to communicate using Spanglish — just letting our minds flow. If you’re around kids especially, though, I recommend trying to stick with one or the other, so that they learn either language fully. Thanks for your comment!

  44. Soy un anglo de los EE.UU. y mi esposa es de Venezuela. Los dos somos bilingües y nuestra hija de cuatro años también es bilingüe. Es muy, muy lindo cuando la hija dice “Mami, quiero una cookie!” pero nos esforzamos por enseñarle buen inglés y español para que pueda interactuar con todos los hispanohablantes. Tenemos muchos amigos de México, pero tenemos familia en Venezuela y amigos de allí, así como de Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, España … Spanglish sería como cualquier otra lengua: necesita ser hablado solamente con alguien que entienda ella.

    I’m an Anglo from the US and my wife is from Venezuela. We are both bilingual and our four-year-old daughter is bilingual, too. It’s really, really cute when our daughter says “Mami, quiero una cookie!” but we strive to teach her proper English and Spanish so she can interact with every Spanish speaker. We have many friends from Mexico, but we have family in Venezuela and friends from there, as well as from Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Spain… Spanglish would be like any other language: it needs to be spoken only to someone who will understand it.

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