Do You Know What “Spanglish” Is?

Spanglish is the language created out of the contact of English and Spanish within the territory of the USA. What has been greatly discussed within the academic and political fields is whether Spanglish is only a medium created for successful communication between people with Hispanic background living in the USA and not being fluent in English, or it has a deeper meaning for its speakers. Despite the efforts of Spanish and USA governments to diminish the value of Spanglish, this language is a cultural carrier to which its speakers relate their identities.

Spanglish is spoken by people with Hispanic background who immigrated to the USA and who settled in the areas close to the border between the USA and the Latino American countries. These people had poor knowledge of English and in order to make themselves understood to the English speakers they started introducing English words into Spanish language. What is interesting though is that this mixed language commenced being transferred from generation to generation meaning that the new language started being created out of the contact of two non-related languages.

Due to the political reasons associated with creating the postcolonial hispanophone community with Spain in the centre on one side, and on the other side the USA’s concerns over the collapse of the USA’s national identity due to the multilingualism and specifically the presence of Spanish, Spanglish has received lots of critics. The agents of Spain’s contemporary language policies have generally tended to describe Spanglish as the artificial fabrication and a source of marginality and a sign of mental deprivation. Spanglish was predicted to have a short life span and that people will speak either English or Spanish in future. In addition, it was stressed that it cannot be written in this language. Spanglish was found to be lacking the needed grammar and orthography rules and that therefore no serious document can be written in it. However, none of these criticisms proved to be true.

There is evidence that it can be written in Spanglish. There are newspapers and magazine publications in Spanglish. Also, there is a published Dictionary of Spanglish, as well as the translation into Spanglish of the first chapter of Don Quixote. This language is not used only by the poor Hispanics barely literate in either English or Spanish, as highlightted by the US critics, but it is also used by educated Hispanics in their informal communication. Although being denied the status of either a language or dialect, Spanglish is alive, and it is still in use.

The speakers of Spanglish are people who are neither Spanish nor Anglo. They have the Latino American origin, but are born and live in the country where English is the first language and Spanish is widely used. Therefore, they cannot entirely identify with either standard Spanish (Castilian) nor standard English. The only recourse that is left to them is to create their own language to which they can relate to and connect their identity to. This language allows them to communicate the realities and values true to themselves. This they cannot do in either English or Spanish, but in a language which is a combination of both, a variation of two languages.