• September 25th, 2021
  • Saturday, 08:49:29 AM

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Spanglish: Savior or Culprit


Esta bien aguitado since his lady left him.

He doesn’t have ni un alibi. (Taken from Llan Stavans in “Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language.)

I am a tri-lingual aficionado. I have been known to speak English, Spanish and Spanglish, which is increasingly becoming an affront to language guardians at the borders, engaging in an assault on the Spanish language through the passage of English Only laws.

Spanglish, you say, que es that?  Stavans states that “Spanglish is the trap, la trampa Hispanics fall into on the road to assimilation.” A la chagrin to Stavans, it appears that he also needs a language history lesson in Chicanismo. Don’t forget about the rapes following the Conquest, forced assimilation and cultural genocide just to name a few.

For others, speaking Spanglish is a form of resistance against language tyranny.

A different kind of language war is also brewing, a powder keg ready to explode at any given moment. This fermentation has aroused intra-ethnic conflict as the Spanish purists have entered the fray, casting stones and verbal battering over who speaks the best Spanish as if language was not in constant mutation. Sandwiched in between grammatical rules and unconscious desires to rule with an iron fist, language purists seem to suffer from premature senility.

Indigenous languages such as Tarasco, Quiche and Nahuatl have been left out of the “Babelic confrontation.”  If Chicanos are going to retrieve and embellish their indigenous languages, Spanish speaking purists as well as contemporary linguists need to understand the history and perhaps create a new parlance entitled “Nahuatlish, Quichis, or Tarasish.” Or are the languages buried beneath the debris of destruction caused by human violence lost forever?

Nuestros antepasados never shouted “Nahuatl only.”  Spanish, at best, was a language imposed upon the indigenous nations of las Américas.  To retrieve Spanish is really only retrieving a part of the untold history.

There are many language paranoids who believe that Denver, CO is turning into a Tower of Babel.  As Llan Stavans states there is a “polyphonic reality in American society;” an invasion of sorts causing dismay among the ranks of the elite, you know, those who speak superficial “verbal promiscuity;” a parlance resembling claptrap and gabble, designed to confuse and contradict, climbing to the hierarchy of language prominence and becoming ubiquitous in public schools.

Linguistic gymnasts have always been in our midst, playing tag with language and inventing new words. Poets have joined the ranks of Merriam Webster, fabricating nomenclature and introducing it to Gringolandia, who in turn have characterized it as barbaric humbug. Apparently, it causes fear, leading to terrorism.  Terrorism aimed at protecting the lingua franca. Public policy pundits continuously create phonetic mumbo jumbo, a potpourri of laws in the lingua franca aimed directly at Spanglish. It is called violence of the tongue, followed by violence of the pen. It is painful. It hurts. It destroys.

Nostalgic gibberish, old hippy slang and la pachucada’s calo; a derivative of Nahuatl and Spanish, have been placed on the chopping block, as the King’s English flexes his muscles. The parlance has changed as poppycock is transformed into balderdash Ingles.

There is a tit-for-tat between barrio slang, a jargon once muy sauve, and babbling from up the ranks that reeks of linguistic imperialism. We thought calo had dissipated until the reintroduction of the zoot suit at Sauvecito’s. The syllabic revolution is not really about language, it is about being human, with all of the frailties associated with this condition.

Enters WASPY, the linguistic handicapped, unable to twaddle, strapped between a forked tongue and a closed mind.  His goal is to cause verbal chaos as he introduces drivel, the cousin to Hokum, a scoundrel known to criticize barrio slang with a bunch of hooey.

There is a Revolución linguistica and we are in it whether we want to or not. Get rid of your Mexican accent; but see if you can adopt a more suitable one that is more acceptable, more bourgeoisie.

Without becoming too Pollyannaish, I say that we resurrect those languages and continue the conflict.

¿Comprendes Mendez?

Dr.  Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist. © 8/24/17 Ramón Del Castillo.