eyes on the U.S.

Spanglish, The Muy Popular U.S. Street Lingo

Latino neighborhood in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC
Latino neighborhood in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC
Eduardo Márceles

BOGOTA â€" Spanglish: Is it a dialect? Ghetto talk? Whatever else it may be, Spanglish is now the brazen, no-nonsense fruit of two languages and cultures coexisting in the United States.

It may sound a little crazy at times. For example, walking in a Latino area of New York one day, I saw a notice that read, "Se vacunan carpetas." Someone "vaccinates carpets" here, I thought? No, a friend told me. It was Spanglish for "We vacuum carpets."

Spanglish emerged from Hispanics' need to communicate with the Anglo-Saxon culture around them before they had fully learned English. They began a mix-and-match approach to get their meaning across. Some knowledge of both languages is needed, of course.

In this idiom, English words are borrowed and Hispanicized to aid the flow of conversation. That has effectively meant additions â€" some of them charming â€" to the Spanish language. Among them: ruf (roof, or techo in standard Spanish), boso (boss, or jefe in standard form), troca (truck, or camión), furnitura (furniture, or muebles), chopin (shopping, not the composer), boila (boiler, caldera de vapor!), estín (steam, vapor), frisar (freeze, congelar), marqueta (market, mercado), lonchar (eat lunch), jolope (holdup), or janguear (hang out).

A visitor from Spain or elsewhere in the Hispanic world might thus be surprised to hear "hay un liqueo en la boila que está dañando la furnitura," (a leak from the boiler is ruining the furniture).

Spanglish should not be confused with certain Anglicisms Spanish has absorbed over time, such as disquet, veredicto, bistec, bebé or drenaje (drainage). These are now considered standard Spanish.

Then there are English words mixed into Spanish, to create effectively bilingual sentences. An example: "Voy al college every day para tomar sociology classes en la mañana," (I go to college every day to have sociology classes in the morning), or "Oye, watch out en la esquina con tu boyfriend, que te está esperando," (Hey, watch out at the corner, your boyfriend's waiting for you).

But in many cases, what started out being considered flat wrong is now regarded as somewhat standard. You could be misunderstood in New York if you said billete, boleto or metro, rather than "token" or "subway," when asking a Latino friend to lend you a subway ticket. Why make your life difficult for the sake of purism, Spanglish enthusiasts would ask, when English is concise and efficient?

Source: Mike Licht

Language of the have-nots

But critics warn of its degenerative effect on linguistic authenticity. It has become a raging debate. Yale University Professor Roberto González Echevarría says ruefully that Spanglish has become the Spanish of the poor and badly educated in both languages. "They incorporate words and adapt syntax from English into their daily language because they do not know the vocabulary required by the cosmopolitan culture around them," he says.

"Educated Hispanics are motivated in a different way. Some are ashamed of their background and think they acquire power of sorts by using English words. They want to be members of the social majority. Still, politically, Spanglish is capitulation and marginalization through abandonment, not ethnic emancipation."

Amply used in daily speech, Spanglish has also earned legitimacy through inclusion in literature written by Chicano and Puerto Rican authors. Chicano poetry, for example, commonly uses alternate English and Spanish words, as in the poem "Where you from?" by Gina Valdés: "Soy de aquí/y soy de allá/from here and from there/born in Los Angeles/del otro lado/y de éste/crecí en L.A./y en Ensenada/my mouth still/tastes of naranjas/con chile."

The writings of a significant group of Puerto Ricans who qualified themselves in the 1970s as "Nuyorican" also appear in both English or Spanglish, and are characterized by the fierce, combative spirit of their time. They don't eschew obcenities or words offensive to conventional morality to denounce racism or exploitation. Among the group's most prominent members were Pedro expand=1] Pietri, a priest and author of the poem "Puerto Rican Obituary," and Sandra María Esteves Algarín. In her poem "A Mongo Affair," Algarín writes, "I am the minority everywhere, I am among the few in all societies/I belong to a tribe of nomads/that roam the world without/a place to call a home.../call mi casa/I, yo, Miguel, ¡Me oyes viejo!/ el hijo de María Socorro y Miguel/is homeless, has been homeless ..."

Cuban-American playwright Dolores Prida alternates between English and Spanish in her play, Coser y cantar. She and her character Ella are one and the same in the verbal ping pong played by her schizophrenic protagonist. Ella speaks in Spanish about Caribbean music and isn't keen on dieting, while "she" speaks English, takes exercise and watches her figure.

There is no consensus on how widely Spanglish is used, or even its definition, yet people agree it reflects the way millions of Hispanics speak in the United States. We'll conclude with the observation Spanish novelist Camilo José Cela once made when visiting a city near the Mexican border. He met a 12-year-old boy selling sweets at the airport and asked him how he was getting on in the United States. The boy answered that he was doing really well because he was working "deliberando groserías." Delivering groceries, he meant, not "analyzing rude words," which is the actual translation. In any case, the writer thought it was "a marvelous expression."

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Geopolitics

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.


The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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