Spanglish: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spanglish refers to the code-switching of "English" and "Spanish", in the speech of the Hispanic population of the United States and Gibraltar and most Spanish holiday resorts, which are exposed to both Spanish and English.



These phenomena are produced by close border contact and large bilingual communities along the United States-Mexico border and California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico, The City of New York, and Chicago. 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.

Spanglish also is known by a regional name, e.g. "Tex-Mex" in Texas, (cf. "Tex-Mex cuisine").

In Mexico, the term pochismo applies to Spanglish words and expressions. Spanglish is not a pidgin language. In the late 1940s, the Puerto Rican linguist Salvador Tió coined the terms Spanglish and inglañol, a converse phenomenon wherein Spanish admixes with English; the latter term is not as popular as the former.

There is another dialect, known as Llanito, that arose in British-controlled Gibraltar and is not a part of the "Spanglish" phenomenon.


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 a great deal. For example, a fluent bilingual speaker addressing another, like bilingual speaker might indulge 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 hacer 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 class, therefore, I'm leaving"), rather than the Spanish "entonces".

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 word carpeta is "folder" in standard Spanish. In some Spanglishes it means "carpet" (room rug).
  2. The word clutch (pronounced: "cloch") is Spanglish, Mexican Spanish and Latin American Spanishes for the gear-shifting device of an automotive transmission. The standard Spanish word is embrague.
  3. In Spanglish, yonque denotes "junkyard", not the standard Spanish desguace.
  4. Trailer denotes "unpowered vehicle drawn by a powered vehicle" in the U.K. and "semi-trailer truck" in the U.S. In Spanglish, trailer denotes the entire tractor-trailer vehicle, not just the trailer. The correct standard Spanish term for a lorry and a semi-tractor truck is camión, and remolque is "trailer". Thus, in Spanglish, "truck drivers" and "lorry drivers" are traileros (trailer haulers); the standard Spanish is camioneros. These Spanglish words frequently are used by Mexican and American Spanglish speakers.
  5. In Spanglish, the word boiler denotes both a "water heater " and a "boiler". The standard Spanish words are calentador de agua (water heater) and hervidor (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 "to attend".
  8. The Spanish aplicación denotes "usage application", in Spanglish, it denotes a "paper form" (school admission application, job application, etc.) used instead of the standard Spanish solicitud, "request"; by extension, the verb aplicar, "to apply", also is so used. The Spanish aplicación and the English "application" are false friends; importing the meaning of a false friend is Spanglish. Suceso, "event", is used to denote "success", leading to expressions such as fue todo un suceso, "it was a complete success".
  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.
  11. Van (la van) is Spanglish for the American English word Van, instead of the standard Spanish la furgoneta.
  12. The English word "footing", as in hacer footing, in Spain denotes "jogging".
  13. Parquear is used instead of the correct Spanish estacionar, it derives from the English word '[to] park'
  14. The verbs, hanguear, and parisear derive from the English verbs, "to hang out", and "to party"; however, vacunar is standard Spanish for to vaccinate.
  15. The verbs platicar and charlar mean "to chat" or to "engage in small-talk", however, an on-line conversation by IRC or IM is chatear (originally denoting "to drink a glass of wine").[1]
  16. Troca denotes "pickup truck" instead of the standard Spanish camioneta.
  17. Computadora derived from "computer" is now accepted standard Spanish, despite the original Spanish term ordenador.
  18. The noun presión, "pressure" in English, changes from "pressure" to pression on adding a prefix, but in Spanglish presura replaces presión. Similarly, the Spanish verb presionar changes to the Spanglish presurar.
  19. The adjectives serioso | seriosa denote the English serious instead of the proper serio | seria.
  20. Norsa denotes from "nurse", instead of the standard Spanish enfermera.
  21. Actualmente, meaning "currently," is frequently misused to replace English actually and in fact. The proper Spanish term for actually is de hecho.
  22. Marketa is a frequently used word derived from the English word market (as in Supermarket) instead of the standard Spanish word mercado.
  23. Lonche is the Spanglish usage for lunch, as in "hora de lonche" (lunchtime). The correct Spanish term is almuerzo.

Other borrowings include emailear or emiliar, "to email", nerdo, "nerd", and laptop, "laptop computer".

Calques from Spanish to English also occur; these are northern New Mexico examples:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. In Mexico and the southwestern U.S., Spanglish speakers are called pochos (rotten). 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 oneself", while divertirse denotes "to have fun", "to party" in slang American English.

This is a code switching 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.


You open it.
Why me? You have 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.

See also


  • Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, Ilán Stavans, ISBN 0-06-008776-5
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • "Redreaming America: Toward a Bilingual American Culture," (Suny Series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture), Debra A. Castillo, 2005.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Spanglish is a 2004 film about single Mexican mother, Flora who gets a job as the housekeeper for a rich white American family. The plot revolves around the difficulty Flora faces as her daughter gradually acclimates to an American identity and a growing admiration and intimacy between the father and Flora.

Written and Directed by James L. Brooks
A comedy with a language all its own.


Flor Moreno

  • Is what you want for yourself to become someone very different than me?

Cristina Moreno

  • American women, I believe, actually the feel the same as Hispanic women about weight: a desire for the comfort of fullness. And when that desire is suppressed for style and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous: such as wantoness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood; all that is best in life.
  • I've been overwhelmed by your encouragement to apply to your university and your list of scholarships available to me. Though, as I hope this essay shows, your acceptance, while it would thrill me, will not define me. My identity rests firmly and happily on one fact: I am my mother's daughter. Thank you, Cristina Moreno.

John Clasky

  • Worrying about your kids is sanity, and being that sane can drive you nuts.
  • Do this for me or I'll set my hair on fire and start punching myself in the face! [Victor: Huh?] Yeah, yeah, you're right: that was an unusual way to make myself understood.
    • [The first part of the line was delivered in a manner similar to Sandler's other, more comically outlandish characters.]
  • They should name a gender after you. Looking at you doesn't do it, staring is the only way that makes sense. And trying not to blink so you don't miss anything. And all of that and you're you. It's just that you are drop dead crazy gorgeous,so much so, that I'm actually considering looking at you again before we finish up here.
  • I know I know we can't do anything, that brings a kind of satisfaction and release, BUT I'M STILL HAVING A GREAT TIME!

Deborah Clasky

  • Flor! Look at this child! You could make a fortune doing surrogate pregnancy!
  • You were an alcoholic and wildly promiscuous woman during my formative years so that im in this fix because of you, it is your fault and I just needed that moment for us to build on.


Deborah: How are you nicer than me?
John: You didn't set the bar that high.

Evelyn: We have to talk.
Deborah: Mother, are you buzzed?
Evelyn: No. I quit drinking weeks ago! No one noticed, but I guess that's a pretty good indicator that I conducted myself quite well when I was drunk. But this isn't about me right now.

Deborah: Do you really think that cupping my breast is going to solve the issue here?
John: It's worked before.
Deborah: Well, now it's infuriating me.
John: Wrong breast.

Deborah: So tell me again why I can't call him on his cell again?
Evelyn: Besides that he turned it off?
Deborah: Yeah.
Evelyn: Forty messages starts to look needy.


External links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Proper noun




  1. A language blend of English and Spanish spoken by both Latinos and Anglo-Americans, also called espanglés
  2. The mixing of Spanish and English together in a sentence.
    His Spanglish was quite embarrassing when he said he was "embarazado".
    Tonight, we’re eating langosta y mariscos for dinner y después vamos al teatro to see the opera.
    ¡Él me quiquió! (he kicked me)

See also


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address