Spanglish, the composite language of Spanish and English that has crossed over from the street to Hispanic talk shows and advertising campaigns, posesa grave danger to Hispanic culture and to the advancement of Hispanics in mainstream America. Those who condone and even promote it as a harmless commingling do not realize that this is hardly a relationship based on equality. Spanglish is an invasion of Spanish by English. The sad reality is that Spanglish is primarily the language of poor Hispanics, many barely literate in either language. They incorporate English words and constructions into their daily speech because they lack the vocabulary and education in Spanish to adapt to the changing culture around them. Educated Hispanics who do likewise have a different motivation: Some are embarrassed by their background and feel empowered by using English words and directly translated English idioms. Doing so, they think, is to claim membership in the mainstream. Politically, however, Spanglish is a capitulation; it indicates marginalization, not enfranchisement. Spanglish treats Spanish as if the language of Cervantes, Lorca, García Márquez, Borges and Paz does not have an essence and dignity of its own. It is not possible to speak of physics or metaphysics in Spanglish, whereas Spanish has a more than adequate vocabulary for both. Yes, because of the pre-eminence of English in fields like technology, some terms, like “biper” for beeper, have to be incorporated into Spanish. But why give in when there are perfectly good Spanish words and phrases? If, as with so many of the trends of American Hispanics, Spanglish were to spread to Latin America, it would constitute the ultimate imperialistic takeover, the final imposition of a way of life that is economically dominant but not culturally superior in any sense. Latin America is rich in many ways not measurable by calculators. Yet I worry every time I hear broadcasts by American-based TV stations that are...
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