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Spanglish: English Words With a Spanish Twist

I recently took a trip to the beautiful city of Austin, Texas. Besides the record-breaking heat, the amazing night life, and the delicious and diverse food, one of the things that I noticed is the use of Spanglish.

As a passionate student of the Spanish language I was fascinated with the popularity of this dialect, one that combines Spanish and English and that has become socially accepted and encouraged.

Ilan Stavans, professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and author of,  Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, says Spanglish changes so fast it’s hard to pin down. His book includes a Spanglish dictionary. Some examples: “Backupear” is to back up a car, “yarda” is yard, “pregneada” is pregnant.

Here are some definitions from his book:

carpeta (kar-PE-tah) — carpet.
chopin (TCHO-peen) — 1.Shopping center mall. 2. n., going shopping.
deiof (dey-OF) — day off.
frizer (FREE-zer) — refrigerator.
grocear (gro-SEAR) — to acquire groceries.
jonrón (khon-RON) — home run.

There has been an ongoing debate among academics and politicians about taking Spanglish more seriously and recognizing it as an official dialect. Many feel like using Spanglish takes away from fully learning and appreciating either the English language or Spanish, while others believe that it is a way of self-expression and serves as a representation of a new culture, one that incorporates both Spanish and English.

Stavans goes on to say that “poets, novelists and essayists have realized that it [Spanglish] is the key to the soul of a large portion of the population. Spanglish is a creative way also of saying, ‘I am an American and I have my own style, my own taste, my own tongue.'”

In Spanglish, one would say “parquear” which means “to park.” Using the initial letters and sounds of the English word with the correct er/ar ending to represent the Spanish verbs, Spanglish words and phrases are created.

The use of Spanglish has been produced by close border contact with large bilingual communities on the northern side along the United States-Mexico border and many US states such as California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Florida.

Personally I think it’s awesome to combine two languages to create a new way of expression and communication that represents both cultures and traditions.

What do you think about Spanglish?

Meet the Author

  • View 3 Comments
    • Well, I’m originally from Texas (live in California now) and Spanglish is what I grew up knowing. It wasn’t until later in life that people started asking what kind of Spanish I was speaking or would ‘correct’ me. It’s very nostalgic for me, and I love it when I hear other people use it!

    • Since language is an ever-changing entity and a reflection of society and it’s influences, Spanglish is a legitimate dialect in its on right. However, I feel that we must be able to code-switch when it is appropriate. It should be understood that standard English and standard Spanish is usually expected to be spoken in certain professional or educational settings and that it is many times considered inappropriate to use Spanglish in these settings. However, when we are amongst family and friends or in more informal settings, where Spanglish is more widely accepted, then it is appropriate.

      That is my two cents.


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