Why I’m Saying No to Spanglish

Spanglish is not a formal dialect, it has no rules or structure, it is not even the same in LA than it is in New York City, but why then, is it so popular? Many researchers say that Spanglish is just a normal process in language, which is constantly evolving, but I beg to differ.

One thing is what happens to a language when is spoken in different regions like the different idioms that Canadian and Australian English have, but another thing is when a group of people mix two languages together making up words that don’t make sense in either of those languages -like Spanglish does.

Hearing these made-up words makes me cringe -especially when the word is used as if it was part of the Dictionary of the Real Academy of Language (the highest authority when it comes to Spanish Language). There is nothing that bothers me more than to listen to the children of Latin American immigrants (or immigrants themselves) using words like “carpeta” to say carpet, to give an example. Sure, both words look very similar and the one in Spanish sounds like it could be the equivalent to carpet in English but the truth is that “carpeta” means binder and the correct word should be “alfombra”. Why do parents let their children do that to their language is beside me. If they are so proud of their cultural heritage as they show by trying to keep their traditions and food as close as what they were in their native countries, why don’t they care about their language?

When people who speak Spanglish go back to their parents’ home countries, people who speak Spanish properly get annoyed and sometimes even offended by the horrible deterioration of the languages. These Spanglish-speakers get made fun of and not taken seriously.

I know that I don’t take people, who supposedly are bilingual, seriously when they speak Spanglish or when they use English grammar to replace Spanish proper sentence structure. Many of these Spanglish-speakers even work at community supposedly bilingual newspapers making the issue even worse. What would happen if someone who didn’t know how to write in English was to be publish every week without being edited? Do you think that readers would approve of that? I highly doubt it. But in Spanish-speaking immigrant communities, this language deterioration happens every day and not even local Universities’ Language Departments say anything about it. When I have been in contact with the owners of some of the supposedly bilingual local newspapers, I have questioned their flexibility with the articles that are written in poor Spanish only to be dismissed.

I know that some children of foreign-language-speakers who can get by in their parents’ native language consider themselves bilingual, but like I said in a previous post, if you are not bilingual, bicultural and biliterate all at the same time, then you cannot say that you are fluent in two languages and thus, you shouldn’t be writing in the language that you don’t know.

I feel sad for the opportunity that the children of foreign-language-speakers missed when the parents were able to teach them and didn’t take the time or thought it wasn’t important to do so.

I definitely want my child to have a good grasp of the three languages spoken at our home and on Skype with our families, but I want her to do so properly and correctly so no matter if she’s in Lebanon, Mexico or the US, she can communicate in a polite, educated way with everyone. Above all, I want her to be taken seriously and not regarded as ignorant -just like people who speak or write in Spanglish are though of back in Spanish-speaking countries.

You may wonder if Spanglish bothers me so much, why do I then use it? Well, I really don’t but what I’m guilty of is adding English words in Spanish sentences and vice-versa. I guess is all part of the deal when it comes to living in a foreign country. There are topics that I know much more about in English -for example my degree. So it is natural that when I’m talking to friends in Mexico about something that has to do with Public Relations, I sprinkle words and names of theories in English all over my Spanish sentences.

It is because of this that I want my child to have every opportunity to learn her parents’ native languages properly and to be equipped to be a global citizen that my new year’s resolution is to keep language mixing to a minimum. I have to say that it already has been challenging -especially with a husband who likes to mix Arabic, English and Spanish in almost everything he says.


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