Questions and Thoughts on Language

Some questions and thoughts on language that I am currently pondering:

1. Why are Americans afraid of the Spanish language being spoken in the United States? Without a doubt, Spanish is the second most used language in the US. Equally without a doubt, Spanish is subordinate to English in the US. Many countries have more than one “official” language. For example, English and French are the official languages of Canada. Many other countries have more than one “natural language” spoken in their country. For example, Spanish, Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Gallician, Asturian, Castillian (“Castellano” to everyone who ever took a Spanish course), are all natural languages of Spain. Heck, the natural language of the US consists of various different Native American languages (most of which are dead or dying). What is the big deal with speaking Spanish in the US? Why is it wrong?  Why is one looked down upon if you speak Spanish?

I am tired of hearing “learn English or go back to Mexico” being yelled at our recent immigrants. At the turn of the last century, I am sure everyone heard German, Italian, Polish, Irish (Gaelic), etc. being spoken all around New York and the East Coast. Don’t worry folks, as time will show, the children of recent immigrants and their decendants will probably never learn to speak Spanish. Just like German, Italian, Polish, etc. is not spoken by the descendants of those immigrants at the turn of the last century.  They will all become the beautiful thing known as the monolingual American.

2. Why do native-born Mexicans look down on Chicanos who do not speak Spanish? Growing up, I worked with a lot of recent immigrants who looked down harshly on Pochos who only spoke English. Doubly so if you were a dark skinned Chicano. “Ese mendigo buey tiene el nopal en la frente y ni puede hablar Espanol. Que mamon!” Luckily, I spoke both English and Spanish!


4 responses to “Questions and Thoughts on Language

  1. One grandmother was born here in Berdoo/Gradfather in AZ., the other set lived in Idaho. Neither sets spoke spanish to the grandkids and hardly to their own kids. I learned spanish from my babysitter and later at the University. My dad speaks broken Spanish and mother is fluent. Me… I’m a mess. I understand a lot. Speak enough to get by, but by no means fluent. I feel bad. My “People” as what happend, or but your Mexican. The “others” ask what grade did I learn English because I speak it so well. I don’t know who bothers me more.

  2. One more thing… I try. I will never stop trying.

  3. Society looked down on “the mexicans” if they spoke spanish. To be on equal footing (if that was even possible), then you learned english and you spoke without an accent. So you could blend in. My grandparents are fluent…but my Tata doesn’t like when people address him in spanish first. He gets defensive right away. It’s really strange. You would think it’s being spoken out of respect.

    In my mom’s generation (born in the 50’s), that is when they learned to be truly bilingual. My mom had to speak 100% spanish with her grandparents. Then 100% english at school, at work, around friends. My father wasn’t required to speak spanish all the time, so he sort of lost the tongue. They both grew up in East L.A., at the height of the Chicano movement. Sadly, I grew up in a home where Spanish was only spoken when little ears weren’t allowed to hear. My Nana spoke spanish so I learned some, but most of our communication was in english. We were different in that we did not watch TV in spanish, or listened to Spanish radio or watched Spanish movies.

    This is the biggest beef that I have with myself. I can understand alot, I can get by…but I have a really hard time trying to put together sentences with my high school and college spanish. It sucks!

    My husband is fluent in spanish, in fact spanish was his first language. Imagine a little Blaxican with a ‘fro, speaking spanish to his black daddy. My kids, they know some words…there is no reason why they shouldn’t learn.

  4. Interesting, I agree that it’s rediculous when people say speak english or go home. The US doesn’t have an official language, yet was founded on immigrants, what’s so bad about people in the US speaking more than one language, the rest of the world is fluent in at least 2 sometimes 5 languages. Oh and in Argentina, everyone speaks castellano, I was very confused by this at first, but now realize it’s just what people speak, they say vos and all that.

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