On April 23, 2008 Transpanish posted a blog article about the movement to cultivate the usage of “proper” Spanish on the Internet. Remember that this movement originated in Spain. But what import does this movement have on Spanish speakers residing in the United States? The usage of proper written and spoken Spanish may still be of import in university Hispanic Studies or translation studies programs in which students are working from documents written by native Spanish speakers. But the reality of spoken and written Spanish and how they’re used in the U.S. is very different from what the Real Academia Española purports.
Take the following points into consideration:
• Mainly monolingual Spanish speakers immigrate to the U.S., but by the third generation, the descendants of those immigrants are primarily English speakers.
• The children and grandchildren of first-generation immigrants generally speak some Spanish, but are educated in English and therefore do not have a background in the conventions of written Spanish.
• Spanish speakers in the U.S. are extremely heterogeneous with regard to their educational level and country of origin.
• Spanish speakers, regardless of their fluency in English, must to some degree navigate an English speaking world.
The result of these combined points is that Spanish spoken in the U.S. is constantly transforming and deeply informed by English, which results in the unique language that we refer to as Spanglish.
Spanglish is the popular term for what linguists refer to as code-switching, which can be either mixing English and Spanish terms within the same sentence (i.e. “Voy a hacer un appointment” instead of “I’m going to make an appointment”) or transforming words from one language by applying the conventions of another (i.e. parquear instead of to park). Spanglish can only be used when both the speaker and listener are equally versed in both Spanish and English, the numbers of which are constantly growing.
Because of this, those who market to Spanish, English, and Spanglish speakers have to be flexible and aware of the truly fluid nature of language use in this country. A good translation agency will be able to help clients navigate the constantly transforming landscape of Spanish as it is spoken in the U.S.