A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"U.S. English", I Spit on Your Haircut

I would like to be the Minister of Bellas Letres in the future United States of Spanglish. In other words, I believe that Spanglish is a viable dialect that is already in use by Latinos and Hispanics in the U.S.

One of my first actions would be to relocate U.S. English to Tijuana and force it to hire Mexicans to man the administrative endeavors. And I would force U.S. English to hire American janitors and gardeners, but they would have to be highly literate. Maybe I could get some of the countless Doctoral students or lawyers that the U.S. produces. I would, however, give them forgiveness for their student loans; I am not a monster!

You may not know about Spanglish, but that may be because you are only tuned in to media in one language, whereas Spanglish speakers watch ABC, NBC, CBS but also Univision and Telemundo. They not only know about Pat Sajack and The Wheel of Fortune, they also grew up watching Don Domingo ham it up on Sabado Gigante.

You see, if you grew up speaking Spanish in your house, and that house was in the continental U.S., chances are you speak Spanglish. And more importantly, you should never feel that speaking Spanglish is wrong or an bastardization of the Spanish and English.

You see, my intrepid quates, English has no Academy, no body setting the rules, ordinances, and taboos. This doesn't mean that it's a free-for-all, but there is definitely room for evolution and transmutation.

Gringos, English has never been in danger of being swamped by Spanish. Latinos do not want to stage a lingual coupe d'etat in the U.S., we just want to be left in peace to speak how we wish. At home, we want to talk Spanish, and in public we want to talk English when speaking with an Anglo and Spanish when speaking with a Latino.

My roomate, Andrew, is from Minnesotta. And he tells me that there are still Norweigan villages there where there is a premium placed on speaking in Norweigan. There were also several Norweigan villages in Brooklyn, and at the turn of the century, the big xenophobia movement was against Italian and German schools.

Recently, the principal of the Khalil Gilbran school in Brooklyn was coeforced (coerced/forced) to resign because of her views, and because the instruction was going to be carried out in Arabic.

In "The Mother Tongue"(1990) Bill Bryson writes that "according to a 1985 study by the Rand Corporation, 95 percent of the children of Mexican immigrants can speak English. By the second generation more than half can speak only English" (1990, p. 241). I think what this means is that children growing up in the households of immigrants must force themselves to maintain their acquisition of their parent's language. I know this certainly was the case for me; since turning 18, I have been reading novels in Spanish to brush up and have visited Argentina several times.

The interesting thing about Bryson's books is that it was published in 1990. So we are talking about 18 years ago. Even then the figures were staggering. Bryson cites the Census Bureau, "According to the Census Bureau, 11 percent of people in America speak a language other than English at home. In California alone, nearly one fifth of the people are Hispanic. In Los Angeles, the proportion of Spanish speakers is more than half. New York City has 1.5 million Hispanics and there are a million more in the surrounding area...All told in America there are 200 Spanish-language newspapers, 200 radio stations, and 300 television stations. The television stations alone generated nearly $300 million of Spanish language advertisers in 1987" (1990, p. 239).

So U.S. English and Senator Hayakawa, I would like you and your cronies to think about how much the figures of Spanish speaking peoples has increased and I want you to think long and hard about what your views on Spanglish. If you want to reach me to discuss any of the things I have written here, I will be at the Institute for the Dominicanization of English in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Even though I am not Dominican, I stand behind their endeavors. We are thinking of renaming every street in Washington Heights and are in talks to develop more enclaves in Orlando, Boston, and Hartford.

Yago, Minister of Bellas Letres, United States of Spanglish

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