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U.S. Spanish with personality and a unique value

Updated: May 19, 2023

The Spanish language in the United States has a crucial importance because its social functions are very diverse throughout the territory in "where it currently has a very large presence"; in addition, since 2015 most Latinos are born here, which means a new stage in the process of Spanish.

This was stated by Pedro Francisco Moreno, from the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, and director of the Observatory of Spanish and Hispanic Cultures of the Cervantes Institute, during the eighth panel of the Bicentennial Dialogues, dedicated on this occasion to the Spanish language from the perspective of the academies.

With Alberto Vital, director of the Center for the Study of Foreigners (CEPE-UNAM) as moderator, Moreno explained that the expansion of Spanish in the United States began in the late 17th century, and it was not until the late 19th century that it reached at least 80 percent of the country, where, although the population did not speak the language, they did know it.

This is how American Spanish was born, acquiring its current identity with the contact of diverse Latin American migrant populations and English itself, which gave it a unique personality and vocabulary, different from the Spanish known in other Latin American countries.

Therefore, the North American academy plays a complicated job because the context in which it operates has many aspects, from a historical context to the effort to preserve the language, trying to maintain the essence of the original Spanish within the American Spanish. In addition, it seeks to support and advise on the use of Spanish in an academic environment, in order to maintain the language in a bilingual context.

PhD. Pedro Martin Butragueño, researcher, author and co-author of six books, among others, El Corpus Sociolingüístico de la Ciudad de México, mentioned that the teaching of the language acquires a legitimate value because the Spanish language spoken in the United States is often perceived by native speakers from Latin American countries as a bad Spanish, due to the fact that its variation by linguistic loans and the so-called Spanglish is not usually accepted, although it is determined by its context.

These inhibitions and criticism generate fear and embarrassment among speakers of American Spanish.

To speak of language mixing is also to speak about Spanglish. Contrary to the beliefs of monolingual Spanish speakers, Spanglish is more complex than just mixing words from the two languages: it is a colloquial alternation of languages that is established as a cultural and linguistic asset, and serves as a stylistic resource, and is used in specific contexts or situations with an extensive command of Spanish and English.

The tasks and issues to be addressed in the management and relationship of Spanish and English are many, although academies and teachers are constrained by stigmas, realities in language learning and respect for varieties.

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