Skip to main content

Spanglish 101

The moment I step into my mother’s house, something happens to my brain.  My conversation switches back and forth between English and Spanish. There was a day when I could speak Spanish throughout the whole conversation, but since I only use it at my mother’s, I have forgotten some of it and I struggle to remember certain words.
My husband called this mixture of my two languages Spanglish and I took offense.
My parents took great care to teach me and my siblings how to speak Spanish correctly when we were children, and often when I speak it with someone other than my family, they notice that I speak differently than most locals.
I take pride in that, except I do struggle with my Spanish, and my husband is right – if moving back and forth between the two languages is Spanglish, then I do speak it, but don’t tell him that.
What I am really doing is code switching and it is a common phenomenon among all bilingual speakers, regardless the language. Any two languages that have some syntactical similarity are open to code switching. What I try to shy away from is mistranslating or adapting/hybridizing words that do not exist in either language. I call those Spanglish words, and they are what my parents tried to weed out of our Spanish lessons.
Spanglish to me is when someone thinks they are speaking in Spanish by adding a common Spanish noun ending, like the letter O, to a word and it is instantly Spanish. Words like car + o = carro, or bird + o = birdo. Stuff like this is funny (to a point.)  
Examples of each:
          An English N-V-N sentence:     
                    I bought a ticket.
          Correct Spanish translation:
                    Compré un boleto.
          Correct Code Switched version:
                    Compré un ticket.
          Incorrect Spanglish/hybridized Spanish version:
                    I bought un tiquete.  Or Compré un tiquete.
The USA is made up of many cultures, ethnicities, and heritages.  We come with many languages.  As our first languages mixes with American English, it assimilates into a mixture of both.  In my case, (HoneyBunch is right, darn it!) I speak Spanglish.


          

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Happy Breastday to Me!

I gave myself a very special birthday present this year – I had surgery. Before you think it was to increase, decrease, or “lift” something, let me tell you it was not cosmetic (though I could probably use a few nips and tucks at my age; the infinite number of creams I buy OTC are not working their promised magic). About four or five months ago, I discovered a hard lump about the size of a large marble in my left armpit.  I had been feeling small pangs of pain in my left chest for several months, but I figured it was just my turn to dance with heart disease.  Everyone in my immediate family is diabetic and suffers from strokes or heart attacks, so I thought – here we go; my turn. I was going to tell my internist about the pangs during my next visit, so imagine my surprise when I discovered the lump. The Drama Queen in me immediately manifested herself – cancer, I thought.  I have cancer. I searched some more and found that the texture on the left side of my left breast felt diffe

Dating Challenged

I stink at dating – always have.   I sputter.   I hyperventilate.   I fail miserably every time. I blame a pathetically underdeveloped gene that got little use before I married in my early twenties, then atrophied, gathering dust and rust, until I became single again in my fifties.   I decided to use this defect to my advantage when I needed to do some investigative reporting a few years back.   While on a newspaper writing assignment on Boomer-aged dating, I sacrificed my dignity and my vanity for the sake of the story (and I got several). Thank goodness, HoneyBunch saved me from all this when we married.  (He comes up with the best dates.) I’ve decided I will “show you mine if you show me yours.”   I will swap dating horror stories with you, but you have to promise to play along. The trick here is to tell about your worst date in 25 words or less.   You must keep it clean and you cannot name names. Our little contest will run only this week and before my next blogger posting.   Me

The Girl Who Eats Canned Spinach

I went to a Catholic elementary school run by strict Belgian nuns, and we could not leave the cafeteria until we ate everything served on our food tray. Once a week, they served warmed, canned spinach with our meal. The spinach tasted nothing like the way my grandmother made it, but I ate it. I gulped it down in three or four bites and it amazed my table mates. I told them we ate it at home so I was used to the taste. Now, my real problem began the day I ate the spinach off my friends’ trays so we could go play outside. As soon as the nun monitoring the cafeteria turned her back, my friends ate something off my tray I didn’t want, and I ate their serving of spinach. I only did it for two of my table mates, but the word spread.   On the next Spinach Day, kids followed me to my table.   I was suddenly very popular, and as soon as the nun marched off to the other end of the cafeteria, my friends and an army of others who only knew me as The Girl Who Eats Spinach, begged me to take