Chicano English

I am bilingual. I speak English and Spanish. However, I have lots of Chicano friends who speak English, but do not speak Spanish. These persons are monolingual. Yet, many of my monolingual friends choose to mix in words in Spanish. Linguists have documented this as a dialect of English known as Chicano English. Originally people thought that Chicano English wasn’t even a separate dialect of English, that it was just the way that people spoke when their first language was Spanish (“making mistakes”, and with an “accent”). But while Chicano English is influenced by Spanish in a general way, we now know that it is its own separate dialect, not just a “Spanish accent” because there are monolingual English speakers who don’t know any Spanish, and yet still speak Chicano English. Chicano English is what I heard growing up in Highland Park, California. Take the Chicano English quiz here.

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7 responses to “Chicano English

  1. Thanks for that link, I only got two of them right. I’ve managed to tone down my East Los speaking habits but I guess I still have it. The most noticeable thing about having it is that people assume you are some dumb brute (well, I guess in my case it’s true!) or from another country. I once had a Japanese guy insist I couldn’t be from LA. Ja, ja, tu que sabes?

  2. Thank you for your comment, El Chavo! I am a big fan of your blog. Yours is one of the inspirations for my blog. I also go back to my Highland Park speak at times. It depends who I am speaking to. Long live Lincoln Heights!

  3. I took the test and scored a 50%. I grew up in the Inland Empire in California and we all talked like the examples on the quiz. We were all monolingual with just enought spanish under out belts to know when our parents were plotting something or to talk to Great Grandma. Thanks for the link to the website – Chicano English. It was interesting.

  4. Estrella, thanks for your comment. I, too, grew up speaking like that with my friends. At home we were required to speak all English or all Spanish. Its funny, but sometimes my mom now speaks more “Spanglish” or Chicano English than me. Or who knows what its called. She’ll mix in some English words while speaking mostly Spanish. Language is a beautiful thing.

  5. Hi! I am a student from Sweden who is doing some research on Chicano English.I have been looking at some blogs to see if I can see some of the dialect features of Chicano English, even though I know that is more in spoken language that I can actually found it.I thought that I would find some features, but no…do you recommend a blog I can look at?

  6. Its funny. I lived and worked among Mexican migrant workers and found it cuturally enriching. I worry sometimes I might lose the Spanish I have learned thus far because here in Southern West Virginia very few people speak it. I think Chicanos are cool because they’re American as can be but have a rich cutural history. Yo no Habla mucho Espanol, pero se quiero aprende mas. Ayude me please. Peace!

  7. Soy la hija de Mexicanos, but my country is The United States of America. Please read my blog. I tyhink you will be able to appreciate my Chicana story.

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