Skip to content

¿Habla Espanglish?

25 October 2014

Spanglish is not random. It is not simply a piecemeal cobbling-together, a collecting of scraps of random vocabulary into a raggedy orphan of a sentence. It has logic and rules, and more interestingly and importantly, it embodies a constantly shifting and intimate morphology of miscegenation. It is the mix of my husband’s innate Mexicanness and my innate Americanness, of my adaptive Mexicanness and his adaptive Americanness, in Spanish and English morphemes that come neatly together and apart like so many Legos into new and ever-changing constructions.

Sarah Mendedick on Spanglish, the language not of Cervantes*, nor of Shakespeare. Perhaps Spanglish is the language of “Mexican Americans too Mexican to be American and too American to be Mexican,” but it is a language of more and more American and Mexican familias:

At home, Jorge’s and my Spanglish has leveled the Scrabble playing field. For his güero, there’s my lonely. For my standard, there’s his deudas. The tiles intersect, English’s short consonant-stacked words overlapping with Spanish’s euphonious roly-poly vowels. Into and out of one and the other we slide, unconscious of how we have assigned parts of ourselves to one side or the other, to one idioma or the other. Unconscious of how each of us has become tangled up in both, until we are in Mexico and we miss beer and the woods, then back in Ohio and we miss corazón, calor humano, vida. Until the middle of a sentence, when I realize I cannot write the word “firework” when what shot into the southern sky was a cuete, loosed by a cuetero, an old man in an untucked white shirt who carries a passel of cuetes and stops to light them one by one, their sparks soaring up from between his cupped bare hands.

Living on the Hyphen, Oxford American.

* ¿Porque no?:

In un placete de La Mancha of which nombre no quiero remembrearme, vivía, not so long ago, uno de esos gentlemen who always tienen una lanza in the rack, una buckler antigua, a skinny caballo y un grayhound para el chase. A cazuela with más beef than mutón, carne choppeada para la dinner, un omelet pa’ los Sábados, lentil pa’ los Viernes, y algún pigeon como delicacy especial pa’ los Domingos, consumían tres cuarers de su income.

(Transladado al Spanglish por Ilán Stavans)

No comments yet

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: