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

Finding My Muse

1)Because my muse has a wicked sense of humor and visits me at odd times and in inconvenient places, I have learned to record inspirations/ideas immediately before I forget them or they dissolve into nothing. I carry small notebooks, own a digital recorder, and have been known to text messages home. I will scribble on anything – old napkins I find in my glove compartment or old receipts. I even pop out of bed in the middle of the night to jot things on sticky pads. 2)Calendars are great places to find topics. I use important dates, seasons, and upcoming holidays to plan blog posts. I can also go back into my work calendar to refresh my memory about meetings, conferences, or books I have read that might be worth sharing with others.   3)I will sit with a good cup of coffee, pen and paper ready, and read the newspaper searching for topics, interesting characters, or modern trends.  News channels and other newsfeeds are just as good.   4)I love to read the TV and movie guides for titles and…

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 their servin…

Facing My Fear of Guns

With the ownership of firearms comes responsibility, so I had asked HoneyBunch several times to teach me how to shoot and to help me get my License to Carry. I got my wish two weeks ago. HB and I signed up to take a LTC class. He bought me a gun, one similar to his, that would be the type we needed to show shooting proficiency, and for one whole week he tried to get me to become familiar with it, but I was hesitant. I read the booklet that came with the gun. I practiced loading and shooting it in what is called dry shooting (no bullets), and since the flyer said I would have to shoot thirty shots at different distances, I finally tried with it loaded. I was a nervous wreck. The class of twelve turned out to be close to forty people. We were of all ages, colors, and genders, and I was glad I wasn’t the only woman my age. The shooting test came first, and we were separated into two groups. Those who were proficient (or thought they were) would shoot first, and those who were novices wou…