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El Spanglish – Forming a New Latino Identity and a New Language?

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If you were a little bit confused by the sentence above, you’re not alone. The liberal exchanging between English and Spanish is not an uncommon practice in today’s world. In fact, the concept of Spanglish as a dialect has long been examined and its prevalence within Latino communities in the U.S. is always growing as the number of U.S.-born Latinos rises.

When prompted whether or not this is a true language there are surprisingly divergent viewpoints. The vast majority of scholars and speakers alike acknowledge Spanglish as merely a convergence of U.S. and Hispanic Culture, an expression of the dual identities that more than 17% of the population possesses according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Conversely, there are academics arguing that due to the high volume of “Spanglish speakers,” it merits recognition as a language.

Professor Ilán Stavans of Amherst College goes as far as to translate Miguel de Cervantes’ entire Don Quijote dela Mancha into a somewhat codified form of Spanglish. An attempt to prove that even the most revered pieces of literature can be expressed in this manner, Ilán has long studied sociolinguistics and the phenomenon of evolving languages, such as Spanglish which has its origins at the end of the Mexican-American War. Not only does it touch upon academia and developmental linguistics, Spanglish also adds a distinct flair to today’s Latin Music.

In today’s music, especially Reggaeton genres, Spanglish is increasingly present. However, even bachata artists like Prince Royce, Leslie Grace, and Romeo Santos, all New York born and raised Latinos infuse English phrases or entire riffs in English into their songs. 3Ball MTY and Becky G, rising stars in the Mexican-American Market also get in on Spanglish, as it amplifies an artist’s fan base, a medium capable of appealing to diverse audiences.

Outside of popular culture, day-to-day use of this dialect is frequent and questioned. Knowledge is power and to achieve bilingualism is a very powerful skill set that can serve as an advantage in many facets of one’s life. If we are to use Spanglish exclusively, we may be robbing our children of the opportunity to fully master two distinct languages. It is important to realize that as integral as language is to culture, culture is not exclusively molded by language alone. Placing emphasis in acquiring fluency in both English and Spanish is integral to success in our global age.

However, there are certain words and phrases in Spanish that cannot be explained in English, and similarly from English when translated to Spanish. From faxing to faxear, tweet to tuitear, surfing to surfear, texting to textear, much of evolving technology and cultural practices forge English and Spanish together. In my opinion the blending of two languages resulting in Spanglish is a beautiful expression of Latino Identity. Through its use we are reminded of our close ties to home that remain within our hearts even if we decide to move outside of Latin America. 

What do you think about Spanglish’s place in music entertainment? Leave your comments below and let us know what you think!


(Interested in checking out Spanglish Lit.? I sure was. The following link is the first chapter of Don Quijote, Spanglish Edition:

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  • As a fluent speaker of Spanglish, I think it's great that more people are taking this language seriously. In fact, I think that it has become quite difficult to find many Latinos in the U.S. today who don't speak Spanglish.

    Posted by Maria Aguiar, 21/07/2014 6:52pm (3 years ago)

  • This article is very interesting. I had no idea that there have been Spanglish versions of such significant texts produced. As a Latino, I am constantly exposed to Spanglish in my everyday life, so it's very reassuring that our made-up dialect is receiving some recognition and validation as a viable language.

    Posted by Elias Rivera, 21/07/2014 12:18pm (3 years ago)