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Spanglish neither pocho nor incorrect: UNAM specialists

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

The linguistic code known as "spanglish" is a natural cognitive tool and strategy of bilinguals which in no way deserves the label of "pocho" or "wrong", said the academics participating in the 6th Conference for the International Mother Language Day, organized by the Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores, Unidad León, of the UNAM.

The Spanish of the United States is a melting pot of Hispanic American culture and its dialectal variants. It is the seal of identity of its speakers, most of whom are bilingual; it is the result of permanent contact between varieties of the same language, in addition to the contact with English, they stated.

Erika Erdely, academic secretary of UNAM Chicago; Claudia Muñoz, coordinator of the Spanish Division, and María Bernarda Espejo, researcher at the Caro y Cuervo Institute and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, reflected on the varieties of Spanish in our continent, from the United States to the Southern Cone, at the panel entitled A Look at the Variants of Spanish in America, held on February 22.

Spanish has a historical presence in the United States since the first explorations of the Spaniards in America, in addition to the large migratory diasporas of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans, and the constant influx of migrants from other Spanish-speaking countries that have enriched the language over time.

Moderated by Alan Sánchez Vázquez, professor of Languages at ENES-León, the participants in the panel shared some general characteristics and reflections on the varieties of Spanish in America regarding their differences with the Spanish variants, the international prestige among them and the egocentric preference of some of them in the fields of teaching foreigners, publishing and journalism.

They emphasized that there is no best variety, since each one represents the cultural and linguistic identity of its speakers; however, they stressed the importance of maintaining an international Spanish in these areas that allows an understandable communication for all speakers, and without the accent of any particular place.

The belief that one variety is better or worse can have a negative impact on speakers of lesser-known or less prestigious variants, as is the case of the varieties of Spanish in the United States, the specialists explained.

In this regard, they said that the low prestige of these varieties is due to the lack of knowledge about their conformation and their contexts of acquisition and development, which are unique and different from the rest of the Hispanic American countries.

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