Spanglish refers to the blend (at different degrees) of Spanish and English, in the speech of people who speak parts of two languages, or whose normal language is different from that of the country where they live. For example, the Hispanic population of the United States and the British population in Argentina use varieties of Spanglish. Sometimes the creole spoken in Spanish holiday resorts which are exposed to both Spanish and English is called Spanglish. The similar code switching used in Gibraltar is called Llanito. Spanglish may also be known by a regional name. Some people[who?] believe that the "Tex-Mex" spoken in Texas, is also Spanglish, which is not the case; neither is "Ladino" spoken in New Mexico, because both are language varieties of Mexican Spanish. Spanglish is not a unified dialect and therefore lacks uniformity; Spanglish spoken in New York, Miami, Texas, and California can be different. In Texas and California a large Mexican population can be found and within that population are Chicanos or second-generation Mexican-Americans. Some of the Spanglish words used by Chicanos could be incomprehensible to Hispanics from Florida.

Spanglish is not a pidgin language. It is totally informal; there are no hard-and-fast rules. There are thought two phenomena of Spanglish, which are borrowing and code-switching. English borrowed words will usually be adapted to Spanish phonology. For example the word "pretend" means to intend and "pretender" means to want to be, but in Spanglish it is utilized with the English definition in mind. Code-Switching and Code-Mixing on the other hand is commonly used by bilinguals. Code-switching means that a person will begin a sentence in one language and at a certain point this one will begin speaking in another language. This switch will occur at the beginning of a sentence or a new topic. In code-mixture this change in language will occur at any given time with no regard to the beginning of a sentence or topic.

There is no clear demarcation between Spanglish and simple bad Spanish or English. "Parquear" for "to park" is clear deliberate Spanglish; "actualmente" for "actually" rather than "at present" is closer to erroneous use of a false friend, and ambiguous as it has a clear, but different, meaning in true Spanish. However, implications present themselves. Spanglish does not mean half and half words - it means half and half sentences or overall speaking ability, but researchers[citation needed] differentiate: those who mostly speak Spanish are labeled limited English proficient, and those that can switch codes freely are considered bilingual. Some parents of native Spanish speaking children may wish their children to be taught in pure Spanish. Some[citation needed] say bilingual education is preferable, but others[citation needed] say the best way is total immersion. The longer students remain in a bilingual program, the greater their chances are of staying there[citation needed].



These phenomena are produced by close border contact and large bilingual communities on the northern side along the United States-Mexico border and California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, The City of New York, and Chicago. It is also important to mention that the bilingual communities on the southern side along the Mexican-American border prefer to use only Spanish while in Mexico, where the term pocho is applied to people who use Spanglish words and expressions. Spanglish is also used in Gibraltar.

It is common in Panama, where the 96-year (1903–1999) U.S. control of the Panama Canal influenced much of local society, especially among the former residents of the Panama Canal Zone, the Zonians. Some version of Spanglish, whether by that name or another, is likely to be used wherever speakers of both languages mix.

In the late 1940s, the Puerto Rican linguist Salvador Tió coined the terms Spanglish, and the less commonly used inglañol[1] for English spoken with some Spanish terms.

H.G.Wells, in his 1933 future history "The Shape of Things to Come", predicted that in the Twenty-First Century English and Spanish would "become interchangeable languages" [2].


Spanish street ad humorously showing baidefeis instead of the Spanish gratis (free).
Baidefeis derives from the English "by the face"; Spanish: por la cara, "free".

Spanish and English have mixed quite a bit. For example, a fluent bilingual speaker addressing another, like bilingual speaker might engage in code switching with the sentence: I'm sorry I cannot attend next week's meeting porque tengo una obligación de negocios en Boston, pero espero que I'll be back for the meeting the week after. Changing some words to English, for example, "Te veo ahorita, me voy de shopping para el mall": "See you later, I'm going shopping in the mall". Spanglish is mostly spoken this way.

Spanglish phrases often use shorter words from both languages as in: "Me voy a wake up". (Rather than: "Me voy a levantar" or "I am going to wake up.") A common code switch in Puerto Rican Spanglish is using the English word "so" (therefore): "Tengo clase, so me voy" ("I have a class, so I'm leaving"), rather than the Spanish "porque" with different order ("me voy porque tengo clase").

Word borrowings from English to Spanish are more common, using false cognates in their English senses, or calquing idiomatic English expressions. Some examples:

  1. The non-standard word afianza is used in Spanglish in preference to the standard Spanish seguro ("insurance policy").
  2. The word carpeta is "folder" in standard Spanish. In some Spanglishes it means "carpet" instead of Spanish 'alfombra'.
  3. The word clutch (pronounced: "cloch") is Spanglish, Mexican Spanish and Latin American Spanish for the gear-shifting device of an automotive transmission. The standard Spanish word is embrague.
  4. In Spanglish, yonque denotes "junkyard", not the standard Spanish deshuesadero.
  5. In Spanglish, word boiler is both "water heater" and "boiler". The standard Spanish words are calentador de agua (water heater) and hervidor or "caldera" (boiler).
  6. The Spanish verb "atender", "to wait upon" or "to give service to", e.g. wait upon a table of diners; however, second-generation Spanish speakers in the Anglo-sphere use the verb as "to attend", instead of "to assist".
  7. The Spanish verb asistir, in Spanglish denotes "to assist" rather than true Spanish "to attend".
  8. Suceso, "event", is wrongly used to denote "success", leading to expressions such as fue todo un suceso, "it was a complete success" (although this can be ambiguous; interpreted in Spanish this means "it was a big event", which sometimes means about the same anyway).
  9. "Push" and empujar are true cognates. In Spanglish, "puchar" is used to the same effect.
  10. The expression llamar para atrás is calqued literally from the English "to call back"; cf. standard Spanish devolver la llamada, "to return the call". This example of calquing an English idiomatic phrase to Spanish is common Puerto Rican usage, even in zones with a lot of Hispanics like Southern Idaho.
  11. Van (la van) is Spanglish for the American English word Van, instead of the standard Spanish la furgoneta.
  12. Parquear is used instead of the correct Spanish estacionar, it derives from the English word '[to] park'. However, Standard and Colloquial Spanish uses the verb aparcar, which is accepted in the diccionary but also appears to derive from English.
  13. The verbs hanguear derives from "to hang out".
  14. Spanish verbs conversar and charlar mean "to chat"; however, an on-line conversation by IRC or IM is Spanglish chatear (Spanish "to drink a glass of wine", uncommon).[3]
  15. Troca denotes "pickup truck" instead of the standard Spanish camioneta.
  16. The adjectives serioso | seriosa denote the English serious instead of the proper serio | seria.
  17. Actualmente, meaning in Spanish "currently," is frequently misused to replace English actually and in fact. The proper Spanish term for actually is de hecho.
  18. Marketa is a frequently used word derived from the English word market (as in Supermarket) instead of the standard Spanish word mercado.
  19. Lonche is the Spanglish usage for lunch, as in "hora del lonche" (lunchtime). The correct Spanish term is almuerzo. Lonchera is also used to mean lunch box.
  20. "Heavy" used unchanged in expressions such as qué heavy, muy heavy, akin to "how awful/terrible".

Other borrowings include: emailear or emiliar, "to email"; nerdo, "nerd"; laptop, "laptop computer"; twittear, to use Twitter; facebookear, to use Facebook and googlear, to use Google.

Calques from Spanish to English also occur. In some cases Spanglish morphs into simple bad English:

  1. An interesting calque is canyon or gorge, in English, from "cañón" (geomorphology), in Spanish.
  2. Also barbecue (or Bar-B-Q), coming from barbacoa, in Spanish.
  3. The word rodeo has the same meaning in English as it has in the original Spanish.
  4. Many verbs are given indirect objects they do not have in standard English; notably, "put": "She puts him breakfast on the couch!" or "Put it the juice" (turn on the power), these correspond to the Spanish poner and meter with the indirect object pronouns le and les, indicating the action was done on behalf of someone else.
  5. One can "get down" from a car, instead of "getting out" of a car; this translates to the Spanish bajarse, "to dismount" or "to descend" from a motor vehicle.
  6. In Mexico and the southwestern U.S., Spanglish speakers are called pochos (said of Mexicans that adopt customs or manners of the people of the United States of America, according to the dictionary of the Spanish language of the Real Academia Española).[4] English-influenced broken Spanish is called mocho, "mutilated", "amputated". U.S. and Latin American Spanglish speakers use the verb fiestar, "to party", which corresponds with fiesta, "a party", these derive from the standard Spanish verb festejar, "to celebrate", while divertirse is "to have fun", "to party" in slang American English.
  7. British people in Argentina use "camp" for "countryside" (from "campo") and drop many everyday formal and slang Spanish words into English ("I'll take the colectivo" (bus)). Sometimes a Spanish phrase is literally translated, incongruously and as a joke, into English: in the Buenos Aires Herald English-language newspaper "ex-president Néstor Kirchner 'could not with his genius' (to express it in Spanglish)",[5] understood by English-speakers with reasonable knowledge of Spanish to mean "could not go against his nature".

This is a code mixture dialogue from the Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing!, by Giannina Braschi:

Ábrela tú.
¿Por qué yo? Tú tienes las keys. Yo te las entregué. Además, I left mine adentro.
¿Por qué las dejaste adentro?
Porque I knew you had yours.
¿Por qué dependes de mí?
Just open it, and make it fast.

In English:

You open it.
Why me? You've got the keys. I gave them to you. Besides, I left mine inside.
Why did you leave them inside?
Because I knew you had yours.
Why do you always depend on me?
Just open it, and make it fast.

This is a code-switching dialogue:

"Yo no estoy de acuerdo con eso. But,anyhow,I think I will try again to get it."
"I have lived in Miami for a long time, pero soy cubano."

In English:

"I disagree with that. But, anyhow, I think I will try again to get it."
"I have lived in Miami for a long time, but I am Cuban."

See also


  • On So-Called Spanglish, Ricardo Otheguy and Nancy Stern, International Journal of Bilingualism 2011, 15(1): 85-100.
  • Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, Ilán Stavans, ISBN 0-06-008776-5
  • Spanglish: The Third Way, A Cañas. Hokuriku University, 2001.
  • Spanish/English Codeswitching in a Written Corpus, by Laura Callahan, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2004.
  • The Dictionary of Chicano Spanish/El Diccionario del Español Chicano: The Most Practical Guide to Chicano Spanish. Roberto A. Galván. 1995. ISBN 0-8442-7967-6.
  • Anglicismos hispánicos. Emilio Lorenzo. 1996. Editorial Gredos, ISBN 84-249-1809-6.
  • "Yo-Yo Boing!", Giannina Braschi, introduction by Doris Sommer, Harvard University, ISBN 9780935480979.
  • “Lives in Translation: Bilingual Writers on Identity and Creativity,” Isabelle de Courtivron, Palgrave McMillion, 2003.
  • "In the Contact Zone: Code-Switching Strategies by Latino/a Writers: Giannina Braschi and Susana Chavez by L Torres. MELUS, JSTOR, 2007.
  • Ursachen und Konsequenzen von Sprachkontakt - Spanglish in den USA. Melanie Pelzer, Duisburg: Wissenschaftsverlag und Kulturedition (2006). (in German) ISBN 3-86553-149-0
  • BETTI Silvia, 2008, El Spanglish ¿medio eficaz de comunicación? Bologna, Pitagora editrice, ISBN 88-371-1730-2 (in Spanish).Presentación de Dolores Soler-Espiauba (in Spanish).
  • "Bilingües, biculturales y posmodernas: Rosario Ferré y Giannina Braschi," Garrigós, Cristina, Insula. Revista de Ciencias y Letras, 2002 JUL-AGO; LVII (667-668).
  • "Escritores latinos en los Estados Unidos" (a propósito de la antología de Fuguet y Paz-Soldán, se habla Español), Alfaguara, 2000.
  • "Redreaming America: Toward a Bilingual American Culture," (Suny Series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture), Debra A. Castillo, 2005.
  • Metcalf, Allan A. "The Study of California Chicano English". International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Volume 1974, Issue 2, Pages 53–58.
  • Ardila, A. Spanglish : An anglicized spanish dialect. Hispanic journal of behavioral sciences, 27(1), 60-81.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spanglish — ist eine von der spanischsprachigen Bevölkerung der USA (Hispanics) gesprochene Mischform der englischen und spanischen Sprache. Diese Varietät kommt hauptsächlich in Regionen vor, in denen sowohl Spanisch als auch Englisch gesprochen wird,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Spanglish — er et blandingssprog mellem spansk og engelsk …   Danske encyklopædi

  • spanglish — GLIŞ/ s. f. limbă spaniolă împănată cu multe elemente englezeşti. (< span/iolă/ + /en/glish) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Spanglish — form of Spanish deformed by English words and idioms, by 1967, probably a nativization of Sp. Espanglish (1954); ultimately from SPANISH (Cf. Spanish) (n.) + ENGLISH (Cf. English) …   Etymology dictionary

  • spanglish — (del inglés; pronunciamos espanglis ) sustantivo masculino 1. Área: linguística Lengua española con fuertes interferencias del inglés que se habla en los ambientes hispanos de Estados Unidos …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Spanglish — [spaŋ′glish] n. Slang Spanish that contains many English words and phrases, esp. as spoken among bilingual people of Hispanic background …   English World dictionary

  • Spanglish — Para la película de 2004, véase Spanglish (película). El spanglish, ingañol, espaninglis, espanglish, espanglés, espangleis, espanglis o pocho conocido así por diversos estados de México, principalmente en la frontera norte, como Baja California… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Spanglish — Pour le film de James L. Brooks sorti en 2004, voir Spanglish (film). Publicité humoristique montrant le mot baidefeis à la place du mot espagnol gratis (gratuit). Baidefeis est dérivé de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Spanglish — (Voz inglesa.) ► sustantivo masculino LINGÜÍSTICA Variedad lingüística construida a partir de elementos de los idiomas español e inglés, que se habla en algunos sectores de la población hispana norteamericana. * * * spanglish (ingl.; pronunc.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Spanglish — noun a) A language blend of English and Spanish spoken by both Latinos and Anglo Americans, also called espanglés His Spanglish was quite embarrassing when he said he was embarazado . b) The mixing of Spanish and English together in a sentence.… …   Wiktionary

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