Spanglish: Killing two languages with one tongue

You may have heard it before. Hialeah’s official language, Spanglish, is the combination of Spanish and English. I guess it’s something that can’t be avoided when you have two cultures constantly interacting with each other. When you speak two languages, words from one language will sneak into a conversation that you’re having in the other language. But, sadly, that’s not where it ends.

Spanglish has evolved from the occasional slip-of-the-tongue into its own monster. When you are having a conversation, and the words out of your mouth vacillate between two languages, it limits you to communicating only with people who understand both languages. I thought the point of knowing two languages was so that you could communicate better with more people, not fewer.

When I was younger, (and even now) people would tell me that I had an advantage over my peers because I could speak two languages. They said I would be “worth two people” to a company. But doing so is hard when my peers are out butchering, not only their native language, but also the language which would make them more valuable.

Even worse, Spanglish destroys both languages in the process. “No” means “no” in Spanish and English, but there are words in the two languages that seem similar but mean completely different things.

I first realized this in my ESOL class in ninth grade. My teacher explained how the word “actually” may seem similar to the Spanish word “actualmente,” but means “really” and not “right now,” as its Spanish doppelganger does. But there are people who may not know that and they may use them interchangeably.

However, this issue goes beyond grammar. The theme for the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences this year is “Identity.” And, while I understand that there are people who identify with two cultures, speaking Spanglish doesn’t give you an advantage. In fact, it makes you lose your two identities for a sloppy, sometimes unintelligible, one.

I’m not suggesting that you stop identifying yourself with either culture, but it’s possible to be proud of your heritage without destroying it. So, please, let’s stop it with the Spanglish.

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