Category Archives: Spanglish
For years my younger son has had the habit of crawling into my lap at the dinner table after he finishes eating. I don’t remember why, how or when this started – I only know that he’s a big 10 year old now with unwieldy limbs, and this tradition is becoming uncomfortable. This is the conversation we had at breakfast this morning.
10 year old: Let me sit with you!
Me: No, ahorita no, this chair isn’t built for two people. La silla se va a quebrar.
10 year old: Por fa? I’ll wash the dishes!
10 year old: I’m not mentira-ing, I really will!
I love his Spanglish, but his Spanish is getting better when he chooses to use it – His bribing skills though, are quite advanced. Check out a post I wrote for SpanglishBaby called, The Lesser Known Dangers of Bribing a Bilingual Child.
There have been plenty of posts such as, “Pass the Vacuum” and other Carlos-isms, which poke fun at Carlos’s English. I also still make fun of him for asking “How many years do you have?” when we first met – So I thought it was only fair for me to write a post about my Spanish mistakes. The one that still makes my cheeks burn red is in the post Most Embarrassing Spanish Speaking Moment, but here are a few words I’ve apparently invented on the path to Spanish fluency.
Quesoso – (pronounced “kay-so-so”) I’m actually proud of this one and have stubbornly used it for years. I call things “cheesy” a lot in English, like, “Oh my gosh, this novela is so cheesy!” … But how do you say “cheesy” in Spanish? I don’t know, so I took the word for “cheese” and added on the appropriate ending.
Afordable – (pronounced “ah-for-dah-blay”) I didn’t know the word for “affordable” in Spanish (“asequible” which I still forget) – so I took a stab in the dark… hey sometimes it works.
Polandia – I was watching a soccer match and Carlos asked me who was playing. I answered “Polandia contra …” (whoever was playing against Poland, I can’t remember.) … Apparently Poland is “Polonia” in Spanish… I still think mine makes more sense.
Tiene un punto – I was trying to say “He has a point” but Carlos says this idiom can’t be translated directly. Oops!
That’s all I can remember for now, but I’m sure there will be more to come.
Sometimes we think of Spanglish as a modern invention – something that the younger generation has created as the Latino population grows in the United States and American culture becomes increasingly popular in Latin America. The truth is, Spanglish has been around a long time. The term, “Spanglish” was first coined by a Puerto Rican linguist named Salvador Tió in the late 1940s. Tió also came up with the word “inglañol” – which is not nearly as popular, (my guess is because it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the same way.)
While the term “Spanglish” first started being used in the late 1940′s, its roots go much further back to the 1800′s, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the 100,000 Mexicans left on the new U.S. side of the border – Mexicans who later became known as “Chicanos.”
Honestly, while I suspected the origins of Spanglish to be something similar to what I found, I wasn’t prompted to research it until recently. Watching I Love Lucy with my little boy before he goes to school is one of my favorite parts of the day. An episode called “Ricky Minds the Baby” aired one morning and in this episode, Ricky tells the story of “Caperucita Roja” (Little Red Riding Hood), to Little Ricky – and he tells it entirely in very charming and amusing Spanglish.
1/18/54: “Ricky Minds the Baby”
I Love Lucy Episode 80 – Filmed 12/3/53
Story: Ricky decides that Lucy deserves a rest, so he offers to take care of Little Ricky.
As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, I received a surprise package on my doorstep. The box contained 11 bottles of Jarritos in various flavors, two luchadores (plastic figures), and a luchador mask. Of course, this totally disrupted my work day as I wasted time playing with my new toys while drinking Mexican soda.
Hours later, my oldest son came home from school and went straight to the fridge, as is his habit.
“YES! Jarritos!” I heard from the kitchen.
He asked if he could drink the Toronja, which is one of my favorites, but I let him have it. The only problem was that he couldn’t open the cap, (it’s not a screw top.) … I let him struggle for a minute or two to see if he’d figure it out before helping him. I guess at least I don’t have to worry about him stealing my Coronas in the near future.
When Carlos came home, he opened a bottle of Tamarindo and put on the luchador mask before going to hide in our youngest son’s room. When our younger son arrived home from school and went to put his backpack away, Carlos jumped out and attacked him.
To make him feel better after Daddy’s mean trick, I gave him a Tutti Frutti (Fruit Punch) Jarritos to drink, and the little luchadores figures to play with.
Later in the evening, the boys got to wrestling around. Our younger son jumped on top of his older brother and began kissing his face like crazy.
“Ew! What are you doing!? Get off!” our older son said, shoving him away.
Our younger son smiled and said, “But I’m a SMOOCH-ador!”
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post or a review. Jarritos sent the package as a gift and I was under no obligation at blog about it. Thanks, Jarritos!
Before I visited Miami and spent time with Telemundo, I had heard of the new show on mun2 called RPM Miami. I knew it had something to do with racing cars, and since that didn’t really interest me, I didn’t look into it any further.
During my time with Telemundo I learned that one of the stars of the show, actor Adrian Bellani, is half Salvadoran. Born in Miami and raised in San Salvador, Bellani plays the character Alejandro who is a soldier returning home from a tour in Iraq. He discovers that his father is missing and while trying to find out what happened to him, gets mixed up in the world of Miami street racing.
Two other things that I liked – First, the characters on the show are all bilingual and the show is a mix of both Spanish and English. And second, RPM Miami is shot on location in Miami.
I had the opportunity to meet some of the stars and of course, my question was, “Which one of you is the guanaco?” … Well, they totally misunderstood me. They thought I was saying “El Guajo” – (which is the name of the antagonist on RPM Miami.) Too funny…Chécalo!
RPM Miami premieres Sunday May 1 @ 10p/9C on mun2.
Disclosure: I went to Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. All opinions are my own.
Mi amigo, Federico, randomly dropped a fun multilingual song in my comments and so that got me thinking of my favorite Spanglish songs. Here they are! Be sure to leave yours in comments! Please be aware, most of these songs are not appropriate for niños. There is strong language in some songs, and music videos in general, even if the language isn’t strong, tend to objectify women, so please use discretion.
Kevin Johansen + The nada – Guacamole (Gracias, Federico!)
Me gustas tú by Manu Chao
Frijolero by Molotov (WARNING: Very strong language)
You ready for some old skool? That’s It/Ya Estuvo by Kid Frost
Señorita by Los Lonely Boys
Electro Movimiento by Calle 13 …This song came out last year, but it is puro 1980′s in style.
Pitbull featuring Akon – Shut It Down
Rico Suave by Gerardo … Ay. Dios. Mio. Qué raunchy! I was like 10 years old when this song came out. I didn’t understand the lyrics back then but was fascinated by the video. I can’t believe my parents let me watch MTV at that age.
Cha Cha by Chelo
Stand by Me by Prince Royce
Dejalo Ahi by Fulanito
Yo Digo Baila by Mexican Institute of Sound
If You Want it by Pacha Massive
Okay, now which Spanglish songs do you like? Díme in comments!
I like vending machines, especially the ones near the door at grocery stores. You know the ones I’m talking about, they’re usually painted an eye-catching red and contain candy, cheap toys or stickers in plastic balls. I think most parents hate those things. I’ve seen children pulled away from the vending machines crying and the parents saying, “No! We’re not wasting money on junk! Let’s go!”
I personally think 25 cents is a small price to pay for a little fun, and I’m just as likely as the kids to run to Carlos, pidiendo una “cora”. (I just aggravated a dear friend by pronouncing/spelling “quarter” like that. Hee hee. Sorry, Ángel.)
Wherever we go, I always check the vending machines to see if there’s anything new or exciting. I especially love when the growing Latino population is reflected in which candies or toys they chose to offer.
That being said, I present to you my new favorite find… “Gold” Patron Saints necklaces.
Each night I tell the kids in Spanish to go pick out their clothes for the next day of school. It’s a phrase they’ve heard a hundred times or more,
“Vaya a buscar tu ropa para mañana.”
Last night my younger son answered me back, “I already busca-ed mi ropa para mañana.”
Do you see what he did there? He added the English “-ed” suffix to make it past tense. Unfortunately, in Spanish this is not how we conjugate verbs so he should have said, “Ya busqué mi ropa.”… Even though his Spanglish answer is only understandable to English-Spanish bilinguals, I still think children are clever linguists to come up with such silliness without much thought.
Well, the niños are back to school which means summer, and “Spanish Summer“, is over. Does that mean I’m going to go back to speaking English with them? N’hombre! … If anything, now I need to make extra sure that I’m speaking Spanish with them here at home as most of their day will be in English with their friends and teachers. This is no longer a simple experiment or “jump start” for my children. We will now speak Spanish at home as much as possible, which is what we should have been doing from the start.
We all learned so much this summer, not just the niños, but me – and even my husband who is the only native speaker, (besides Suegra!) … One lazy Saturday morning I rolled over in bed and my husband kissed me good morning. Still half asleep I mumbled, “Now I’m hungry. I was dreaming about semita de higo.”
My husband said, “Higo?” and laughed at me, thinking I had made up a word. Later in the day I looked it up on the internet and showed him that it meant “fig” in English, but not knowing what a “fig” is either, he remained skeptical until we asked Suegra. Her very Salvadoran response to her son, “Higo! No sabes qué es higo, vos?! Puchica, ‘stas perdido, Tata.”
So, we continue to speak Spanish, and when I forget, slipping back into the comfort of English like a pair of sweat pants I should have thrown out a long time ago, even the children remind me in their own way. Just this morning my 8 year old got ready for school and then plopped down beside me in bed.
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“We could read ‘Rats of NIMH’?” I said, referring to a chapter book we’ve been reading each night before bed.
“Nah,” he responded, “That’s only for noche.”
Noche. It came out of his mouth so naturally, without even thinking, his accent changing just for that one word. My kids are now responding to me in Spanglish, and sometimes even in perfect Spanish, when I’ve mistakenly spoken English to them. The tables have turned! Earlier this year it was me who would stubbornly respond in Spanish to their English, all the while, wondering if I was wasting my time.
And so the lesson (and tip #2) – Keep at it. Stay strong. Be patient. Speak to your children in Spanish as much as possible. Even if it seems like they’re ignoring you, annoyed with you, or not catching on, trust that the gears are turning and words are being filed away. Don’t forget to keep it fun and find Spanish in unexpected places. Take a “field trip” to the Latino Market, or Lowe’s Home Improvement center. That seems like a random thing to say, but check out the video and you’ll see what I mean.
And just in case anyone is wondering, Lowe’s didn’t pay me to make this video in any way. (I think they were actually kind of annoyed with us running around their store.) … Of course, if they’d like to re-model my house to say ‘thanks’, they should feel free to E-mail me.
I would like to introduce you to mi gran amigo, the muy creativo and always fascinating, Joe Ray. You may have enjoyed some of his entertaining cuentitos in the Latinaish.com comments section, and now it’s my pleasure and honor to host this guest post he has written for us.
Spanglish…el bad boy de linguistics
by Joe Ray
Ask any bilingual professional (especially in marketing) what they think of using Spanglish and they’ll tell you there is no place for it in marketing, advertising, etc. They’ll get self righteous and well postured as they tell you this. Then as soon as they walk out, they’ll start using Spanglish, especially if a couple of beers are involved.
Why is that? Is it butchering the language? If done incorrectly, you just screwed up 2 languages. Especially if a message is being delivered via media channels to get a point across or sell something. Face it, bad use of Spanglish can make you come across as ignorant, illiterate, and like you’re part of the-low-tooth-per-head-ratio crowd.
However, on a personal interaction level, Spanglish can be great. Sort of like speaking your own Secret Global Citizen Code, like an Hombre Secreto on a mission of some sort. Or at the very least you’ll sound like you’re enjoying yourself. One time a non-Spanish speaking friend of mine, upon hearing two of us speaking Spanglish and going back and forth, asked me why we do that. Why? I never thought about it, but I guess it’s because we can. We can, therefore why not, right? It’s that Hombre Secreto Code thing, right?
I’ve always heard a lot of Spanglish. I was born in a Mexican border town and grew up in Arizona, so I’ve heard a lot of this linguistic fusion. I think it’s a natural for bilingual/bicultural gente.
Here’s a good example I’ve heard quite often around farm areas: “Okay, hay me esperas, then I’ll get mi troca y te recojo and then vamos a lonchar en la chuck wagon, okay?”
It’s a beautifully appreciated global code system when you hear it spoken really fast too. Very natural. Especially given the fact that Latinos use our hands to punctuate or tone down dialogue, even on the phone. Then when you factor in the end of the work day, some cervezas and some verbal madrazos, the lenguaje gets very colorful.
In case you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker, here’s a quick crash course in Spanglish and the art of the madrazo (cervezas not required):
- “Hey, bring me that little chingadera, please.”
- “If you kids don’t behave, I’m going to get my pinche chancla and then van a ver who’s in charge around here.”
- “Hey_________(insert MLB player name here)! Don’t be such a maricón…that was a good pitch!”
That last one can be a pretty good, or bad insult. Be prepared for accompanying laughter or a potentially violent reaction. Note: on all of the above, be sure to use hand and head gestures when incorporating them into everyday conversations.
There you go. You’re now ready to start using Spanglish, and on your way to becoming a Secret Global Citizen, complete with your own linguistic code.
What are some of your favorite phrases you hear or use?