Spanglish is a form of speech that results from an interaction between Spanish and English used by people who speak both languages or parts of both languages. Spanglish is not usually considered a language itself, but rather an overlapping and mixing of Spanish and English lexical items and grammar. Spanglish is not a pidgin, because unlike pidgin languages, Spanglish can be the primary speech form for some individuals. Spanglish can be considered a variety of Spanish with heavy use of English or a variety of English with heavy use of Spanish. It can be more related either to Spanish or to English, depending on the circumstances.
The concept was first brought into literature by the Puerto Rican poet Salvador Tió in the late 1940s, when he called it Espanglish or Inglañol. (from English + Español, and Inglés + Español, respectively)
History and distribution
In the late 1940s, the Puerto Rican journalist, poet, and essayist Salvador Tió coined the terms Espanglish (later shortened to Spanglish) for Spanish spoken with some English terms), and the less commonly used Inglañol (for English spoken with some Spanish terms).
After Puerto Rico became a United States territory in 1898, Spanglish became progressively more common there as the United States Army and the early colonial administration tried to impose the English language on island residents. Between 1902 and 1948, the main language of instruction in public schools (used for all subjects except Spanish language courses) was English. Actually, Puerto Rico is unique in having both English and Spanish as its official languages (but see also New Mexico). Consequently, many American English words are now found in the Puerto Rican vocabulary. Spanglish may also be known by a regional name.
Spanglish does not have one unified dialect and therefore lacks uniformity—specifically, Spanglish spoken in New York, Florida, Texas, and California can be different. Although not always uniform, Spanglish is so popular in many Spanish-speaking communities in the United States, especially in the Miami Hispanic community, that some knowledge of Spanglish is required to understand those in the area. It is common in Panama, where the 96-year (1903–1999) U.S. control of the Panama Canal influenced much of local society, especially among the former residents of the Panama Canal Zone, the Zonians. Some version of Spanglish, whether by that name or another, is likely to be used wherever speakers of both languages mix.
Many Puerto Ricans living on the island of St. Croix speak in informal situations a unique Spanglish-like combination of Puerto Rican Spanish and the local Crucian dialect, which is very different from the Spanglish spoken elsewhere. The same assumption goes for the large Puerto Rican population in the state of New York and Boston.
Spanglish is spoken commonly in the modern United States, reflecting the growing Hispanic-American population due to immigration. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Hispanics grew from 35.3 million to 53 million between 2000 and 2012. Hispanic Americans have become the largest minority ethnic group, with a large portion being of Mexican descent. Mexican Americans form one of the fastest-growing groups, increasing from 20.6 million to 34.5 million between 2000 and 2012. Around 58% of this community chose California, especially Southern California, as their new home. The use of Spanglish is found widely throughout the heavily Mexican-American and other Hispanic communities of Southern California. The use of Spanglish has become important to Hispanic communities throughout the United States, in areas such as Miami, New York City, Texas, and California. In Miami, for example, they have their own similar form of Spanglish that many colloquially term "Cubonics".
Spanglish is informal and lacks documented structure and rules, although speakers can consistently judge the grammaticality of a phrase or sentence. From a linguistic point of view, Spanglish often is mistakenly labeled many things. Spanglish is not a creole or dialect of Spanish, because although people claim to be native speakers of Spanglish, Spanglish itself is not a language on its own, but speakers speak English or Spanish with a heavy influence from the other language. The definition of Spanglish has been unclearly explained by scholars and linguists despite being noted so often. Spanglish is the fluid exchange of language between English and Spanish, present in the heavy influence in the words and phrases used by the speaker. Spanglish is currently considered a hybrid language by linguists—many actually refer to Spanglish as "Spanish-English code-switching", though there is some influence of borrowing, and lexical and grammatical shifts as well.
The inception of Spanglish is due to the influx of Latin American people into North America, specifically the United States of America. As mentioned previously, the phenomenon of Spanglish can be separated into two different categories: code switching or borrowing, and lexical and grammatical shifts. Codeswitching has sparked controversy because it is seen, “as a corruption of Spanish and English, a 'linguistic pollution' or 'the language of a "raced," underclass people'”. For example, a fluent bilingual speaker addressing another bilingual speaker might engage in code switching with the sentence, "I'm sorry I cannot attend next week's meeting porque tengo una obligación de negocios en Boston, pero espero que I'll be back for the meeting the week after"—which means, "I'm sorry I cannot attend next week's meeting because I have a business obligation in Boston, but I hope to be back for the meeting the week after."
Calques are translations of entire words or phrases from one language into another. They represent the simplest forms of Spanglish, as they undergo no lexical or grammatical structural change. The use of calques is common throughout most languages, evident in the calques of Arabic exclamations used in Spanish.
- "to call back" → llamar p'atrás (volver a llamar)
- "It's up to you." → Está p'arriba de ti. (Depende de ti.)
- "to run for governor" → correr para gobernador (presentarse para gobernador)
Semantic extension or reassignment refers to a phenomenon where speakers of the originating language use a word more similar to that of a second language in place of their own with a similar, or not so similar, meaning. Usually this occurs in the case of false cognates, where similar words are thought to have like meanings based on their cognates. This occurs often between speakers of two languages due to the likeness of the cognates and different meanings among any language.
- "Carpeta" in place of "moqueta" or "alfombra" (carpet)
- "Aplicación” in place of "solicitud" (application)
- "Rentar" in place of "alquilar" (to rent)
- "Remover" in place of "quitar" (to remove)
- "Chequear" in place of "comprobar" or "verificar" (to check)
- "Parquear" in place of "estacionar" or "aparcar" (to park)
- "Actualmente" (means 'present') for "actually"
- "Bizarro" (meaning 'far fetched') for "bizarre"
• "Mapear" in place of "trapear" (to mop)
An example of the lexical phenomenon in Spanglish is the emergence of new verbs, when an English verb is added onto the Spanish infinitive morphemes (-er, -ar, and -ir). For example, the Spanish verb "to call", originally llamar, becomes telefonear (telephone+ar); the Spanish verb "to eat lunch", originally almorzar, becomes lunchear (lunch+ar), etc. The same is applicable to the newly created verbs: watchear, puchar, parquear, emailear, and twittear (among others).
Loan words occur in any language due to the presence of items or ideas not present in the culture before, such as modern technology. The increasing rate of technological growth requires the use of loan words from the donor language due to the lack of its definition in the lexicon of the main language. This partially deals with the "prestige" of the donor language, which either forms a dissimilar or more similar word from the loan word. The growth of modern technology can be seen in the expressions: "hacer click" (to click), "mandar un e-mail" (to send an e-mail), "faxear" (to fax), "textear" (to text message), or "hacker" (hacker). Some words borrowed from the donor languages are adapted to the language, while others remain unassimilated (e. g. "sandwich"). The items most associated with Spanglish refer to words assimilated into the main morphology. Borrowing words from English and "Spanishizing" them has typically occurred through immigrants. This method makes new words by pronouncing an English word "Spanish style", thus dropping final consonants, softening others, and replacing certain consonants (i.e., M's, N's, V's) with B's.
- "Taipear" (to type)
- "Marqueta" (market)
- "Biles" (bills)
- "Líder” (leader)
- Lonchear/Lonchar" (to have lunch)
Fromlostiano is a type of artificial and humorous wordplay which consists of taking Spanish idioms and translating their literal definitions word-for-word into English. The name fromlostiano comes from the expression From Lost to the River, which is a word-for-word translation of de perdidos al río; an idiom meaning that one is prone to choose a particularly risky action in a desperate situation (this is somewhat comparable to the English idiom in for a penny, in for a pound). The humor comes from the fact that while the expression is completely grammatical in English, it makes no sense to a native English speaker. Hence it is necessary to understand both languages in order to appreciate the humor.
This phenomenon was first noted in the book From Lost to the River in 1995. The book describes six types of fromlostiano:
- Translations of Spanish idioms into English: With you bread and onion (Contigo pan y cebolla), Nobody gave you a candle in this burial (Nadie te ha dado vela en este entierro), To good hours, green sleeves (A buenas horas mangas verdes).
- Translations of American and British celebrities' names into Spanish: Vanesa Tumbarroja (Vanessa Redgrave).
- Translations of American and British street names into Spanish: Calle del Panadero (Baker Street).
- Translations of Spanish street names into English: Shell Thorn Street (Calle de Concha Espina).
- Translations of multinational corporations' names into Spanish: Ordenadores Manzana (Apple Computers).
- Translations of Spanish minced oaths into English: Tu-tut that I saw you (Tararí que te vi).
The use of Spanglish has evolved over time. It has emerged as a way of conceptualizing one's thoughts whether it be in speech or on paper.
Identity and Spanglish
The use of Spanglish is often associated with an individual's association with identity (in terms of language learning) and reflects how many minority-American cultures feel toward their heritage. Commonly in ethnic communities within the United States, the knowledge of one's heritage language tends to assumably signify if one is truly of a member of their culture. Just as Spanish helps individuals identify with their Spanish identity, Spanglish is slowly becoming the poignant realization of the Hispanic-American's, especially Mexican-American's, identity within the United States. Individuals of Hispanic descent living in America face living in two very different worlds and need a new sense of bi-cultural and bilingual identity of their own experience.“This synergy of cultures and struggle with identity is reflected in language use and results in the mixing of Spanish and English.” Spanglish is used to facilitate communication with others in both worlds, “…code-switching is not merely a random phenomena but rather a complex system composed of a variety.” While Individuals believe that Spanglish should not be considered a language, it is a language that has evolved and is continuing to grow and affect the way new generations are educated, culture change, and the production of media. Living within the United States creates a synergy of culture and struggles for many Mexican-Americans. The hope to retain their cultural heritage/language and their dual-identity in American society is one of the major factors that lead to the creation of Spanglish. 
Attitudes towards Spanglish
Speakers of standard forms of Spanish may at times denounce Spanglish as a corrupted dialect. In fact, Spanglish is not about necessarily assimilating to English—it is about acculturating and accommodating. Still, Spanglish has variously been accused of corrupting and endangering the real Spanish language, and holding kids back, though linguistically speaking, there is no such thing as a pure or real language. Presently, “Spanglish” is still viewed by most as a rather derogatory and patronizing word to its community because it seems like a “bastardized language”. In reality, Spanglish has its own culture and has a reputation of its own.
It is commonly assumed that Spanglish is a jargon: part Spanish and part English, with neither "gravitas nor a clear identity", says the author of Spanglish and proponent of Spanglish, Ilan Stavans. Use of the word Spanglish reflects the wide range of views towards the mixed language in the United States. In Latino communities, the term Spanglish is used in a positive and proud connotation by political leaders. It is also used by linguists and scholars promoted for use in literary writing. Despite the promotion of positive use of the term by activists and scholars alike, the term is often used with a negative connotation. People often refer to themselves as 'Spanglish speakers' if they do not speak Spanish well. The term Spanglish is also often used as a disparaging way to describe individuals that do not speak English fluently and are in the process of learning, assuming the inclusion of Spanglish as a lack of English fluency.
- Yo-Yo Boing!, the first Spanglish novel by Giannina Braschi, a Puerto Rican writer based in New York City; the work debuted in 1998.
- Mexican WhiteBoy, a 2008 novel by Matt de la Peña
- H.G.Wells, in his 1933 future history The Shape of Things to Come, predicted that in the Twenty-First Century English and Spanish would "become interchangeable languages".
The use of Spanglish by incorporating English and Spanish lyrics into music has risen in the United States over time. In the 1980s 1.2% of songs in the Billboard Top 100 contained Spanglish lyrics, eventually growing to 6.2% in the 2000s. The lyrical emergence of Spanglish by way of Latin-American Musicians has grown tremendously, reflective of the growing Hispanic population within the United States.
- Mexican rock band Molotov, whose members use Spanglish in their lyrics.
- American progressive rock band The Mars Volta, whose song lyrics frequently switch back and forth between English and Spanish.
- Spanglish 101 is a 1999 compilation album by Koolarrow Records, who have a slate of Spanglish artists
- Shakira (born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll), a Colombian singer-songwriter, musician, and model.
- Ricky Martin (born Enrique Martín Morales), a Puerto Rican pop musician, actor, and author.
- Pitbull (born Armando Christian Pérez), a successful Cuban-American rapper, producer, and Latin Grammy Award-winning artist from Miami, Florida that has brought Spanglish into mainstream music through his multiple hit songs.
- Enrique Iglesias, a Spanish singer-songwriter with songs in English, Spanish, and Spanglish; Spanglish songs include Bailamos and Bailando.
- Rapper Silento, famous for his song "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)", recorded a version in Spanglish.
- Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi wrote the Spanglish comic novel Yo-Yo Boing! (1998).
- Chicano performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña uses Spanglish often.
- Ilan Stavans, sociolinguist, a world authority in Spanglish.
- Germán Valdés, a Mexican comedian known as Tin Tan who made heavy use of Spanglish. He also dressed as a pachuco.
- Piri Thomas, a Nuyorican writer poet, known for his memoir Down These Mean Streets.
- Pedro Pietri, a Nuyorican poet and playwright.
- Caló (Chicano) a Mexican-American argot, similar to Spanglish.
- Chicano English
- Dog Latin
- Languages in the United States
- List of English words of Spanish origin
- Llanito (an Andalusian Spanish-based creole unique to Gibraltar)
- Portuñol, the unsystematic mixture of Portuguese with Spanish
- Spanish language in the United States
- Spanish dialects and varieties
- Repeating Islands: News and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts
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- Current TV video "Nuyorican Power" on Spanglish as the Nuyorican language; featuring Daddy Yankee, Giannina Braschi, Rita Moreno, and other Nuyorican icons.
- Spanglish – the Language of Chicanos, University of California
- What is Spanglish? Texas State University