During a television court program on Telemundo I heard one of the defendants say, “I must face my problems.” Quickly, he converted the phrase into Spanglish, “Tengo que ‘facear’ mis problemas.” It was startling to witness the ease with which an English word is converted into a Spanglish word.
The blending of words, however, wasn’t foreign to me, because as a fifth generation Chicana, I learned Spanglish before learning Spanish.
The interesting thing is that I wasn’t aware of it. The word ‘ticket’ became tickete, ‘to park’ became parquear and ‘to pick’ became piscar.
Baffled by the frowns that came my way via purists, I continued to master the Spanglish language.
It wasn’t until taking college-level Spanish courses that it became obvious to me that I wasn’t speaking Spanish. Why weren’t the words tickete, parquear and piscar in the Spanish/English dictionary? When did Spanglish begin to coexist with Spanish?
According to my textbook studies, Spanglish is the obvious result of a collision between two languages: Spanish and English. It most likely got its start after the war between the United States and Mexico in 1848 and between the United States and Spain in 1898. Afterwards, a concentration of Spanglish was found in the Southwestern States of California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
There are several forms of Spanglish ranging from the use of both English and Spanish in the same sentence to adapting an English word into a Spanish form as demonstrated in the beginning of this article. Consequently, the finished products have many challenges in their “correctness” of Spanglish.
Some people even maintain that it is a language used only by incompetent, uneducated people. The result is a conflict of perceptions where Spanglish is either viewed as acceptable or not acceptable.
Those who remain against Spanglish argue that it is an appalling mutilation of the Spanish language and indicates laziness or failure to learn proper Spanish. Opponents also argue that in order to maintain clear and proper Spanish, it is necessary to follow the language standards set by La Real Academia EspaÃ±ola.
Ultimately, this well established institution should be allowed the authority to dictate on a global level what is considered “cultured” and “educated” Spanish. However, not all agree with this view.
Those in favor of Spanglish maintain that a collision of languages resulting in a hybrid language is a natural process that has occurred throughout history. Castilian Spanish, after all, evolved from Vulgar Latin. As far as La Real Academia EspaÃ±ola is concerned, supporters believe that the institution is obsolete, and that “the people” should be able to determine what is linguistically correct. Supporters also advocate that opponents visiting the United States should adapt the idea of “when in Rome do as the Romans do” and accept the hybrid language as a reality here.
On various occasions, arguments for and against Spanglish have emerged in the classroom. Opponents fiercely maintain that it mutilates the Spanish language and goes against the standards set by the Spanish institution.
Supporters accuse Spain’s Real Academia EspaÃ±ola of being an obsolete institution and maintain that “the people” should determine what is linguistically correct.
My personal view is that it is a historical reality for many people living in the United States and should be acknowledged as a hybrid language.