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English as a Lingua Franca and Spanglish in blog communication: a case study

Brief history of Spanglish in the United States: origin and development

Throughout history, mixed languages have always been a natural phenomenon that occurs when two or more languages encounter each other (Þorvaldsdóttir 2009: web). In the United States as Ilan Stavans (2003) highlight that this languages encounter or clash is not a recent phenomenon:

English and Spanish have found each other; they have become partners in this ever-expanding mode of communication. However, that partnership [...] has not always been around. (Stavans 2003: 18).

Since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the year 1492 until the mid- XIX century, Castilian-Spanish was the language of explorers and missionaries (Þorvaldsdóttir 2009: web). So, I can clearly assert Spanish has been spoken in what is now the United States longer than English has (Amarilis Cotto 2007:3). As Betti recalls, Spanish language has always existed in Southern States of The United States of America by the reason of those territories belonged to Spain between the XVI and the XIX centuries; furthermore, the first explorers were Spaniards (Betti 2009: 102, 103). Spanish language is so intrinsically related to the United States that half the places in this country still have Spanish name (Santiago 2008: 31). Bill Santiago (2008) revokes:

Would someone please put the ñ back in Montana? I was just there and got tired of telling everybody it should be Montaña. The city of Chicago[...] was named by its Spanglish-speaking founder, in honor of his wife, who refused to leave him no matter how much he always begged her, "Chica, go". [...] Spanish (and therefore Spanglish) has a special foothold in this country (Santiago 2008: 31).

Another scholar Gerardo Piña-Rosales (2008) reminds us that:

Antes que Hudson avistara las aguas del Hudson, el río había sido explorado por Esteban Gómez y bautizado como Río San Antonio; que la Florida fue española hasta 1819. […] En el Suroeste, la zona de los estados de California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Nuevo México, Texas y partes de Colorado y de Kansas, perteneció al Virreinato de Nueva España, con capital en la Ciudad de México, hasta 1821, a México hasta 1848, y desde entonces, a los Estados Unidos (Gerardo Piña-Rosales 2008: web)

After the mid-XIX century, the linguistic situation changed radically because of the arrival of Anglo-Americans in regions such as New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California. As Lodares remembers, North American people moved from East to West in search for gold mines and crude petroleum; in the meantime, they colonised those territories (Lodares 2001: 109).
This fact generated a clash between English and Spanish. People began to use both languages (Þorvaldsdóttir 2009: web). In those days, Southern administrations fostered free Spanish language courses. Lodares (2001) wrote:

A partir de 1828 en San Antonio, Santa Fe, Taos, Los Ángeles y otros lugares ya funcionaban escuela primarias gratuitas. Se enseñaba español con un método pedagogico inglés (Lodares 2001: 107).

However, the historical fact that generated the current linguistic profile was the passage of southwest territories from the Mexican administration to the American one. The mixture of Spanish and English languages is not a recent event because its roots date back the pivotal year 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed the formal purchase of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California from Mexico to United States (Betti 2009: 103). The end of another war signalled Spanglish formal beginnings. In 1898, Spain ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the U.S. following its defeat in the Spanish American War (Morales 2002: 34).

With regard to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Stavans (2003) explained:

It was in those years that Texas became Americanized […]. The dialogue of Spanish and English increased as an obvious consequence. By 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed by the Mexican dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna thereby selling for $15 million-¡qué oferta!-two thirds of Mexican territory to the White House, the juxtaposition of cultures was extensive.[…] With the treaty, the population […] switched citizenship from one day to the next (Stavans 2003: 39).

The new border generated serious problems. Suddenly, those who speak Spanish were treated like foreigners in their land. The new administration imposed the English language to the detriment of the Spanish one. As Antonio Torres remembers: "we didn't cross the border: the border crossed us" (Torres 2007: web), (Morales 2002: 20).
Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, leader of the Modernista movement, denounced the oppressiveness of the American language. In one of his poem wrote:

¿Seremos entregados a los barbarous fieros? ¿Tantos millones de hombres hablaremos ingles? ¿Ya no hay nobles hidalgos ni bravos caballeros? ¿Callaremos ahora para llorar después? Stavans unpoetic translation: Will we surrender to the ferocious barbarism? That many millions of people will end up speaking in English? Are there no longer noble hidalgos or brave knights? Will we fall silent today in order to cry tomorrow? (Stavans 2003: 41).

Reading these lines, we can clearly perceive the discomfort that prevails among Hispanic people. The majority of population developed ambiguous feelings: they embraced the English language, yet at the same time, they wanted to preserve their Hispanic identity. Puerto Ricans adopted a similar attitude regarding the assimilation of Puerto Rico Island from North American society (Amarillis Cotto 2007: 3).
The new citizens kept Spanish usage at home and at schools, although English became the language of business and diplomacy (Þorvaldsdóttir 2009: web). To describe this situation, in which in the same community there are two languages or dialects that fulfills different purposes, the famous linguistic Charles Ferguson coined the term diglossia (Moreno Fernández 2009: 223, 224). […]

Questo brano è tratto dalla tesi:

English as a Lingua Franca and Spanglish in blog communication: a case study


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Informazioni tesi

  Autore: Maria Chiara Baldini
  Tipo: Tesi di Laurea Magistrale
  Anno: 2012-13
  Università: Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia
  Facoltà: Dipartimento Studi Linguistici e Culturali
  Corso: Lingue per la Comunicazione nell'impresa e nelle Organizzazioni Internazionali
  Relatore: Franca Poppi
  Lingua: Inglese
  Num. pagine: 148

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