Spanglish is a well-known term that describes the linguistic behaviors on Spanish speakers, who’s Spanish is uniquely influenced from the English language. Spanglish can also be defined as a “mixed-code vernacular that includes a range of linguistic phenomena, most notably code-switching”. Despite the fact that Puerto Rican linguist, Salvador Tio, coined the term ‘Spanglish’ in the late 1940’s, this language contact phenomena has actually been used over the past 150 years, since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. Some would consider Spanish a 3rd language and some would dismiss it as unorganized slang. In modern society, Spanglish is classified as a popular term, not a technical one. Although many variations of Spanglish do exist and is widely denounced for being a form of slang, Spanglish has proven, to hold its own flexible syntax, grammar interface, and switching rules.
Spanglish can be found in the speech of the Hispanic population of the United States, especially in communities located near the border, such as Southern Texas, and communities with significant Latin influence, like Miami and New York City. Every Hispanic group has its own variant of Spanglish (Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Boricuan, Mexican, e.t.c) and can differ depending where the region is located. San Diego, for example, borders Mexico where many Spanish and Spanglish-speaking citizens currently reside. Historically, the United States and Mexico were both seeking land near the border during the mid 1800’s, but both countries spoke opposing languages (English and Spanish). “They were two radically different countries in terms of social conditions, economics, politics, and culture.” (5. Jesus Velasco-Marquez). American and Mexican politicians were forced to use code switching to communicate with one another and each side attempted to acquire the opposing country’s language. Eventually, The Treaty of Guadalupe, signed in 1848, ended the Mexican-American war and began an era of peace between both countries. The peace treaty also established the border between both countries, attracting colonies to villages along the border for trade and stock routes. The culture of these villages, whose residents hail from both America and Mexico, created ‘Spanglish’ as a result. During the construction of the Panama Canal in 1881-1914, Americans now had access to travel deeper into South American, which made Spanglish and code switching a vital form of communication. Aside from the Mexican border, Spanglish has also found its way onto the tongues of Cuban-Americans and Cubans, who’ve migrated from Cuba during the 1953-1959 Cuban Revolution. During the early to mid-1900s, New York City was also experiencing a similar wave of migration, as many Puerto Ricans were settling in New York for economic and social reasons.
Spanglish can be divided into three subdivisions:
1. Adapting lexical items (“loan words”) from one language into the other on a phonological or morphological (roots/affixes) level. (e.g, ‘saying updatear’ [to update] instead of the Spanish alternative “actualizar”). Borrowed verbs tend to carry the borrowing language’s inflections (e.g. parquear [to park]). 2. Calques: Words or phrases in one language whose semantic components are directly translated from another language. (e.g. “to call back” becomes “llamar para atrás” which is the literal word-for-word translation. Although the translation was entirely in Spanish, the grammar influence was due to English. 3. Code-switching: The phenomenon that occurs when adapting loan words from one language into the other in the same utterance or conversation. Two main types of code switching can be identified. Internsentential code-switching occurs when the switch is made at a clause boundary (e.g. I’m extremely tired, me voy a domir), Intrasentential code-switching occurs when the switch is made within a clause (e.g. Mi abuela le gusta cooking). Intersentional code switching tends to be more...
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