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Spanglish & Linguistics Essay

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 atras” 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 popular than Intrasentential code switching, as speakers tend to “alternate among multiple CONSTITUENTS WITHOUT ERROR (TORRES 330)”. THE FLEXIBLE, YET RULE GOVERNED, LINGUISTIC PHENOMENA OF SPANGLISH INCLUDE SIMILAR (YET MORE COMPLEX) COMPONENTS OF

SPANISH-ENGLISH CODE SWITCHING. ANGLICISMS/LOAN WORDS ARE BORROWED WORDS (OR PHRASES) FROM THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND INCORPORATED INTO SPANISH (OR ANY LANGUAGE). AN EXAMPLE OF THIS BEHAVIOR IN SPANGLISH WOULD BE THE TERM “TROCA” (WHICH TRANSLATES TO “TRUCK” IN ENGLISH AND “CAMIONETA” IN SPANISH) OR THE WORD “PARQUEADERO” (WHICH TRANSLATES TO “PARKING LOT” IN ENGLISH AND “ESTACIONAMIENTO” IN SPANISH). NEITHER ONE OF THESE WORDS CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS CODE SWITCHING NOR CAN BE PROPERLY DEFINED AS ENGLISH OR SPANISH.

IN FACT, SOME LINGUISTS BELIEVE THAT IN ORDER TO USE PROPER CODE SWITCHING, THE SPEAKER MUST ATTAIN A HIGH COMPETENCY IN EITHER LANGUAGE, AND THEREFORE SHOULD NOT EVEN BE COMPARABLE TO SPANGLISH. THESE LOAN WORDS TEND TO FOLLOW A SET OF LINGUISTIC PATTERN IN SPANGLISH, SUCH AS ADDING THE SPANISH INFINITIVE ENDING OF “-AR” TO ENGLISH WORDS, LIKE:

MAPEAR (TO MOP), TEXTEAR (TO TEXT), CHANGEAR (TO CHANGE), LINKEAR (TO LINK), AND RELESEAR (TO RELEASE). ‘FREE MORPHEME CONSTRAINT’ AND ‘EQUIVALENT CONSTRAINT’ ARE TWO LINGUISTIC CONSTRAINTS IN SPANGLISH. FREE MORPHEME CONSTRAINTS STATE THAT SWITCHING BETWEEN BOUND MORPHEMES IS PROHIBITED (E. G. ESTAMOS TALK-ANDO OR YO ESTOY EAT-IENDO). EQUIVALENT CONSTRAINTS STATE THAT NO SWITCH CAN BE MADE IF THE RESULT IS UNGRAMMATICAL, AND MUST BE GRAMMATICAL TO BOTH LANGUAGES (E. G. I SAW LO INSTEAD OF I SAW HIM).

IN NEW YORK CITY, PUERTO RICANS HAVE BEEN OBSERVED TO SWITCH FORM CLASS WORDS, SUCH AS NOUNS AND PRONOUNS, AND RARELY SWITCH AUXILIARIES AND ADJECTIVES. MANY SOCIOLINGUISTS, SUCH AS ILLANA STAVANS), ARGUE AGAINST ‘FREE MORPHEME CONSTRAINTS’ BY USING LEXICAL WORDS LIKE “JANGEAR” EVEN THOUGH “-EAR” IS A BOUND MORPHEME IN SPANISH USED TO CREATE VERBS.

STAVANS ARGUMENT DECLARES THAT EVEN THOUGH ‘FREE BOUND MORPHEME’ RULES STATE THAT SWITCHING BETWEEN BOUND MORPHEMES IS PROHIBITED, EXCEPTIONS CAN BE MADE IF THE LEXICAL WORD IS PHONETICALLY INTEGRATED INTO THE BOUND MORPHEME’S LANGUAGE. CALQUES, OR LOAN TRANSLATIONS, GO FURTHER THAN JUST BORROWING WORDS OR PHRASES. THE SPEAKER CREATES A LITERAL TRANSLATION OF THE SENTENCE WITHOUT CHANGING THE GRAMMAR FORMAT;

UNGRAMMATICAL TRANSLATION. ‘FALSE COGNATES’ FOLLOW A SIMILAR FORMAT AS THEY BORROW WORDS FROM ENGLISH TO SPANISH BUT PROVIDE A ROOT WORD THAT TRANSLATES INTO A DIFFERENT MEANING (E. G. “CARPETO” IS INDEED A SPANISH WORD, BUT THE SPEAKER WOULD BE INCORRECT IF THEY WERE USING IT TO DESCRIBE A “CAR PET”, AS “CARPETO” ACTUALLY MEANS “FOLDER” IN SPANISH. BECAUSE ROOT WORDS TEND TO BRANCH ACROSS MULTIPLE LANGUAGES, ‘FALSE COGNATES’ ARE THE MOST COMMONLY USED DEVICES IN SPANGLISH.

Based on public literature, specifically Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language (2003) by Illan Stavans, each Spanglish speaker has their own regional dialect depending on their heritage, social lass, and age. Some of these include, “Cubonics” (Cuban-Americans), “Nuyorrican” (Puerto Rican spoken in New York City) and “Dominicanish” (Dominican-Americans). Stavans explains that there’s no such thing as one Spanish, and each group has its own speech pattern.

His view on “Chicano Spanish”, (which he considers Mexican-American Spanglish), contrasts opposing views from another sociolinguist, Carmen Fought. Fought studies Chicano Spanish, and believes that is “neither Spanglish nor a version of nonstandard Spanish but, rather, is a unique dialect used by speakers who are typically not bilingual. ”

Fought even challenges Chicano Spanish stating the speakers are likely to not even know Spanish at all, and because of their high vowel pronunciation on the letter “I” (words like “going” are spoken as “go-WEEN” or “talking” becomes “talk-EEN”) other people might believe what they’re hearing is “the accent of a native Spanish speaker”, which is false.

Cubonics however, uses many loan words like ‘pulover’, which is literally almost spelled the same as the English word it borrows from (‘pullover’), but the Cubonics definition is referring to a “shirt” whereas “camiseta” would be the proper Spanish translation. Social motivation for code switching


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