Code Switching: Spanglish = Spanish + English

By Catalina Bazaldua

Some people call it insubordinate, and others feel it’s an improper deformation of the Spanish language. To others it’s perceived as being their own identity. The language dialect - Spanglish has emerged in the United States as being a popular and controversial topic due to the mixture of English and Spanish language. This is a common figure of speech:

English – I am going to fix the leaking pump.

Spanish -  Voy a arreglar el escape de la pompa.

Spanglish - Voy a fixiar el liqueo de la pompa.

Spanglish is referred to as being an artificial dialect from the deformation of the Spanish Language.  It’s used in a way that adds flavor to the English language just like adding salsa to corn chips. It’s distinctive to hear it spoken and freely communicated among individuals. These days it’s inevitable not to listen to Spanglish because it’s becoming popular in the United States. The thought of integrating these two languages creates perplexity in a confusing manner of speech. Although the two languages have cognate words, the possibility of understanding and communicating involves discipline in both languages.  

Spanglish emerged from Spanish speaking families who instinctively had to discover a way to communicate in an English spoken society. Children educated in English classrooms expand the use of Spanglish as a way to express reassurance with their relatives and friends. The ability to intertwine two languages facilitates getting the message across for many of those who struggle with the basics of linguistics. In addition, it creates an easier interaction with monolinguals in daily life activities such as work, study, and expression of feelings.

But how influential is Spanglish?  Ironically, this unique dialect influences many parts of the world without becoming aware of it. Even Spanish educators and purists have somehow inattentively used several Spanglish terms in their lives. With a world of media, advertising, and technology amongst us, it’s almost unavoidable not to converse in this dialect. We hear proficient TV stations, doctors, and engineers communicate in Spanglish all the time. It’s simply another way of getting the message across in a trouble-free manner. Besides, who said that “parquear” is the proper way of saying “parking”… as in parking the car.                    

Spanglish creates simplicity and cultural identity among certain individuals, but let us not ignore the fact that Spanglish is a dialect of the Spanish language. As Spanglish continues to evolve in the United States, it’s imperative for bilingual educators and language purist to continue working hard to preserve the correct fundamentals of the Spanish language.

Ultimately, understanding the Spanish language properly creates a better common ground in such a way that it can catapult anyone to real world opportunities. The opportunities are timeless when the Spanish language is appropriately used as a mechanism for businesses, in politics to influence consumer behavior, or to promote political interests. Spanish empowers a group or an individual’s success that gives them great opportunities in a multi-language society without taking Spanglish from their lives.

Contact Catalina at dcbazaldua@gmail.com.

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