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The Spanglish debate in the US

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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
One or the other May 1, 2010

Either you speak Spanish or you speak English. Spanglish is neither of them, it is a mixture maybe useful for informal meetings and exchanges among the US Spanish communities. But it is wrong, it can`t be used for formal purposes and is not udnerstoos or can be misundertood out ode the US.
I remember living in the US people saying "loqueé la puerta" for "I locked the door" (instead of "cerré la puerta con llave"), "carpeta" for "carpet" instead of "alfombra (carpeta is a folder or a tablecloth), or funny stuff like saying "comprar groserías" for "buying groceries" (groserías means rude things).
Translators should be very careful.


 

Raúl Casanova  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
English to Spanish
Fact of life May 1, 2010

Walter Landesman wrote:

Either you speak Spanish or you speak English.

Yes, I agree with that. But people speaking “Spanglish” in US (and some close by neighbor countries) is a fact of life. Nobody can tell, at present time, how this situation will evolve in time, as the latin-american population in US grows at a much faster rate than the white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant community. From a translator’s viewpoint, I think we have quite a challenge if faced with a translation job addressed to the “Spanglish” speaking audience. We could stick to our guns and try to use proper Spanish, but this won’t stop the current phenomena from happening, and can drive us into trouble with some editors. Perhaps we will be asking for style guides more often, or declare ourselves defeated and accept the ongoing changes. Just something to start thinking, quick.


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Examples May 1, 2010

Hi Raul,

If it is a formal text, I think we should translate into proper Spanish, period.

If we are asked to localize, or it is a more coloquial text and run into some words that we know have diffeerent translations and meanings according to the target audience (country and cultural level), ok, we do it.

Applying this to the so called US Spanish, if it is a dialogue, coloquial, and adressed to poor educated migrants, or it is to be played as a dialogue for a US Spanish audience, I might accept saying "carpeta" or "loquear". But if it is a formal, maybe commercial text, if you order a "carpeta" I might sell you a tablecloth instead of a carpet, and if you say "loquear" I might not understand that you want to close the store with a key but that you want to make crazy things.

That`s whay we have to be vary careful and try to use the proper Spanish words as much as posible. What Spanglish does is take the English word and apply Spanish grammar to it. That doesn`t always work.


 

Susie Miles  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
English to Spanish
Examples vs examples... May 2, 2010

Of course, you're right, Walter, as regards to loquear and carpeta! There may be other examples like: cliquear, lonchera (lunch box), -I can't think of another one now- that are more commonly accepted, in an informal conversation or text. Your examples are really good as a joke. Groserías, etc. Ja ja!

Thank you for commenting on this article!


 

Susie Miles  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:43
English to Spanish
Spanglish May 2, 2010

I surely like your inputs, because they help us improve our linguistics knowledge! and yours too Raúl!!

Chaucito! (Ciao....)


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
What's the debate? May 2, 2010

This is just the ages old history of immigration and its consequences, although in the case of Spanish in the US it has indeed reached a huge scale. The nature of the problem is however the same as always: people who in a vast majority lack an academic level of knowledge in their mother tongue and move to a country where they (and most particularly their descendants) start mixing it all and making a mess of it. In the case of Spain, we have seen this happening with Spaniards living in Germany and France from the immigration boom in the 1960's.

 

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:43
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
immigration history May 2, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
This is just the ages old history of immigration and its consequences (...). The nature of the problem is however the same as always: people who in a vast majority lack an academic level of knowledge in their mother tongue and move to a country where they (and most particularly their descendants) start mixing it all and making a mess of it.


Like Afrikaans is South Africa originating from Dutch settlers in Africa centuries ago.
So at some point, the Dutch language was not Dutch any longer and became Afrikaans.
Ewa
Ps. I’m sorry if I’ve simplified the issue discussed, and perhaps I should not participate in the discussion, because I don’t speak Spanish, but just the forum seems interesting to me, so I hope you don’t mindicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2010-05-02 09:15 GMT]


 

xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'm familiar with a different variant of Spanglish May 2, 2010

and I'd love to know if people in Buenos Aires, for example, have this same concept. It's quite different from the Spanglish of the United States.

When I went to the British Schools in Montevideo, a long time ago, many of my friends were from Anglo-Uruguayan families and theirs were English-speaking homes. So I got used to talking with them in English. But, inevitably, we started to mix in Spanish words... preserving the structure of the English sentence, but sometimes using a word in Spanish for clarity/brevity/plain laziness. Much the same happened when they came to my house, we spoke in reasonable correct Spanish, but threw in the occasional word in English, for the same reasons. By the time we finished high school, not only my group of friends but I image that almost everybody who attended our school was highly proficient in this variant of Spanglish which we still use when communicating among ourselves. "Decile a la maid que no se olvide de trancar la door "... that's a bad example, I haven't woken up yet today, but just to give you an idea. "We're going to so-and-so's because they're having an asado con toda la parentela".

A generation earlier, my mother and her friends would do something very similar with French, because that was the language of some of their parents.

Even in the past few years, and trying to earn my living with translations, I still think that this variant of Spanish is much less of an insult to either of the two languages than the examples that Walter has given. Of course I try to avoid it when talking to other translators, who might frown on this weakness... But the reason I bring it up here is to show that it isn't really necessary to distort any of the languages to the extent that is happening in the United States... you can fill in the blanks in the other language without having to make up words.

Quite some time ago, in a KudoZ question, cgowar pointed out that many people who migrate to the United States from Central America are possibly not native speakers of Spanish... so in fact they are adopting this Spanglish without the possibility of analyszng just how little sense it makes in Spanish. I think she made a very interesting point with that comment.

Buen domingo.








[Edited at 2010-05-02 14:03 GMT]


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Tomas is right May 2, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
The nature of the problem is however the same as always: people who in a vast majority lack an academic level of knowledge in their mother tongue and move to a country where they (and most particularly their descendants) start mixing it all and making a mess of it.


I quote from the article in debate: "Purists on either side of the language barrier will argue that Spanglish is a dirty representation of their native tongue, inappropriate for any formal occasion and denoting a lack of intelligence on behalf of those who speak it. To others instead Spanglish is a language of artful prose."


I certainly agree with Tomás' statement and with the "purists" mentioned above. I disagree with the "others" (I am not refering to LOST, BTW).icon_smile.gif

>

[Edited at 2010-05-02 15:40 GMT]


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Being bilingual May 2, 2010

Lucia Colombino wrote:
.. But, inevitably, we started to mix in Spanish words... preserving the structure of the English sentence, but sometimes using a word in Spanish for clarity/brevity/plain laziness. Much the same happened when they came to my house, we spoke in reasonable correct Spanish, but threw in the occasional word in English, for the same reasons. .... "Decile a la maid que no se olvide de trancar la door "... that's a bad example, I haven't woken up yet today, but just to give you an idea. "We're going to so-and-so's because they're having an asado con toda la parentela".
...
Even in the past few years, and trying to earn my living with translations, I still think that this variant of Spanish is much less of an insult to either of the two languages than the examples that Walter has given.


Yes, Lucia, that is very common among bilingual speakers. I do it very often when speaking in Spanish with friends or relatives I know that are proficient in English, and the same the other way around. Even in Spain the use the STOP sign instead of the PARE sign (Spanish) we use in other countries. They say béicon in Spain (for bacon) instead ot panceta or tocino.

But that`s not Spanglish, at list not what this article refers to. As you said, that is used for the sake of clarity/brevity/plain laziness and it`s usual among bilingual people. I agree that`s not an insult to any language.

The so called US Spanish or the Spanglish used in the US might be valid in a coloquial or informal spoken environment. But we can`t say that "Spanglish is a language of artful prose" as some mention in the article.


 

Raúl Casanova  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
English to Spanish
The debate May 2, 2010

Quoting from “the Racquette”
Dr. Mary Louise Pratt provided some fascinating bits of insight into the modern bi-lingual society America is becoming. Here in the North Country, individuals may not see the effects of a mass migration of Spanish-speaking people.However, in the south it is an understood fact that there are places you cannot go, businesses you can not enter and people you can not hope to communicate with, if you lack enough Spanish. In turn, this has given rise to a linguistic phenomenon where large groups of the population employ "Spanglish."
Bearing in mind that this article is what fired the wick, I’d like to go back and start considering that US is, in fact, becoming a bi-lingual society. I can’t tell if a true bi-lingual (two languages spoken side by side) society is being born, or just two different languages are being mixed down into a new breed.
There are several streams contributing to the new reality. One is just cross-border permeation and is not so serious, for it affects a relatively small population. Other is the contribution of non-Spanish speaking immigrants (aymaras, quechuas, gauaranies etc.) who don’t speak either Spanish nor English, but get immersed into US Latin-American communities and start using Spanglish for convenience. But the mainstream comes from the large Spanish-speaking population already settled in the States, rising families and integrating their descendants (to a varied extent) into the Anglo-Saxon culture. That’s what is promoting the big change, and can eventually make the shift towards a true bi-lingual society or to a new language.
Besides the funny examples posted by Walter, there are cases where the boundaries of proper Spanish get somewhat fuzzy: I can live with Mexicans using “cauchos” for “tire” (after all, we sometimes refer to as “gomas”). But I can’t cope with them using “rines” for “rims” (We call them “llantas”) or Puerto Ricans using “wiper” for “limpiaparabrisas”, or Nicaraguans using “troca” for “camión”. Or, on the funny side, “vacunar la carpeta” for “vacuum the carpet”
Last, but not least, we have an ongoing flow of new terms coined for new developments, for which there are not Spanish equivalents (sometimes there are not English words, either), but I think this is part of the natural evolution of languages.


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Funny May 2, 2010

Raúl Casanova wrote:
Or, on the funny side, “vacunar la carpeta” for “vacuum the carpet”


That is a real weird expression.
It`s really funny, it completeley changes the meaning. I don`t remeber having heard it. Live and learn.

Yes, we should add it to the list of most funny examples.icon_smile.gif

Have a nice Sunday.

[Edited at 2010-05-02 16:15 GMT]


 

anna silvia
Local time: 23:43
Suplemento especial de HispanicLA sobre Spanglish May 3, 2010

Hola a todos! y perdonen si no contesto en inglés...

Creo que el fenòmeno (y perdonen también los acentos, es que no tengo un teclado espanol) del Spanglish es muy complejo y fascinante al mismo tiempo, algo que serìa interesante estudiar màs detenidamente, ya que se trata de hablar de casi 47 millones de hispanos que viven en EE.UU.

No se trata de un fenòmeno producido sòlo por gente ignorante que no sabe hablar los dos idiomas, o no conoce el inglés (en el caso de hispanos que viven en EE.UU.), sino que puede ser signo de una destreza linguìstica, de una identidad in between, de un modo de comunicar muy productivo en determinados àmbitos...

Interesante a este propòsito es el sitio de HispanicLA: http://www.hispanicla.com/archive/presentacion-spanglish-el-suplemento/ donde actualmente hay un suplemento especial sobre este tema, asì como libros que presentan esta interesante modalidad comunicacional.

"feliz day a todos"icon_smile.gif desde Italia


 

Marina Menendez  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:43
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sorteando canas May 3, 2010

Thanks for the link, Anna. The Spanglish/Espanglish/Inglañol phenomenon is very interesting, I wrote an article about it on my blog (http://virgulilla.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/espanglish).
I think that the main feature of this new pidgin is the phonetic adaptation of English words in order to make them fit the Spanish sound system. Another weird (and hilarious) example: "... trabaja en una fábrica sorteando canas"; literally, it reads 'she works in a factory raffling gray hairs'. It's Spanglish for 'sorting out cans'.

Saludos ; )


[Edited at 2010-05-03 19:25 GMT]


 

Laura Bissio CT  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 18:43
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
interesante foro Aug 4, 2010

Hola!

también prefiero contestar en español, porque temo no lograr expresar cabalmente mi idea si no lo hago en mi lengua materna. Me disculpo si esto va contra las reglas del foro.

Debo definirme como una expurista del idioma, que ha cambiado su perspectiva del tema.
Hace unos dos años, me encargaron un trabajo semitécnico para "español de EE. UU.". La traducción que entregué estaba en un correcto "español neutro", pero me la devolvieron con muchas correcciones y quejas del editor. La querían en Spanglish. Quedé muy enojada y lo consideré casi un insulto, pero más tarde alguien me hizo ver que la traducción no es correcta si no responde al lenguaje que entiende y espera a la audiencia a la que está destinada.
Esto me hizo pensar mucho y mis conclusiones fueron:
- nos guste o no, el spanglish es una realidad (como dice Raúl: "it's a fact of life")
- los latinoamericanos en general y los rioplatenses en particular no deberíamos sorprendernos de ese fenómeno ya que nosotros tampoco hablamos (ni escribimos) el mismo español que se habla en España y no por eso sentimos (ni admitimos que se nos diga) que hablamos un español incorrecto, inculto o "de segunda".
Y esto me lleva a otro punto que suele ser controvertido: ¿cuál es el "español correcto"? ¿el de la RAE? ¡hay TANTOS términos que no están en el DRAE y que usamos a diario (y no solo coloquiales)! ¡Hay tantos conceptos que se denominan con términos diferentes en los distintos países de habla hispana! y no por eso consideramos que uno sea más correcto o válido que otro, ¿o sí?
Los idiomas son elementos vivos, la gente los adapta a sus necesidades de comunicación. Todos los idiomas de los países que han tenido colonias han dado lugar a variantes locales, lo mismo sucede en lugares donde han habido grandes corrientes migratorias, EE. UU. no es una excepción.

Como traductores tenemos la opción de decirle a un cliente "no trabajo con spanglish como idioma (o variante del idioma) de destino", pero no creo que nos corresponda hacer otros juicios de valor.

Por lo demás, ¿es más incorrecto decir "llámame para atrás" (call me back) que "mandame un mail"? Porque, seamos sinceros, los únicos que escribimos (porque jamás lo decimos) "envíame un correo electrónico" somos los traductores...

saludos a todos,

Laura


 
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