No Problemo: U of O Embraces Spanglish

Feb 16, 2016

Spanish and English have been in contact with each other since colonial times. A University of Oregon professor has brought them together for a new class called "Spanglish."

As the name implies, Spanglish is a mix of English and Spanish, often in the same sentence. For U of O grad student Zelda Lopez, it's second nature:

"I'm originally from Tucson, Arizona, pero yo tengo una master's degree in international studies."

A Pew survey shows almost three quarters of all

second-generation Latinos use Spanglish.  So Professor Claudia Holguin set out to create a course aimed  mostly at Spanish speakers.

Prof. Claudia Holguin
Credit Jacob Lewin

"I wouldn't say yet that it is a language, but in practice it is.  It is another language because it is much more than English and Spanish.   It is a  way of living."

Holguin wants students to examine the boundaries between languages.  Spanglish includes the creation of new words like washateria for laundromat.

"I'm going to say a word and you tell me if it's Spanglish, English, or both Spanish and English. Futbol? Los dos.  Both of them. Sandwich? Both. Goal? Goooooaaallll! Emotionally for me that's Spanglish.  Washateria?  That's just Texas. That's Spanglish. No problemo?  Well, that could be someone really trying to fit in...laughter."

Credit Claudia Holguin

Holguin says use of Spanglish is on the increase. In some parts of the country you can see tv ads in Spanglish for Wells Fargo, Toyota, Burger King:

"Hey cuero, qué tienes allí? Chicken fries. Chicken fries? Sí. Son new. Watcha...Simón!"

Spanish also uses Spanish conjugations for English verbs...watcha or estoy facebookiando--I'm using Facebook.  It's been compared to...

--Saxophone riff--

jazz, a product of different musical languages. Student Corina Soriano from Los Angeles has an English-speaking mom and Spanish-speaking step-dad:

"I decided to take Spanglish because I feel that I am also an embodiment of the word Spanglish."

Credit Jacob Lewin

Student Sabrina Ramos of Albany says the course is helping with her identity:

"I look white, but I am Latina. I came to terms with my identity recently since I moved to Eugene so I decided to take this class to learn more about Spanish and English immersion together."

Heck, even a former governor of California can speak English and Spanish together:

"Hasta la!"