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Spanglish refers to the code-switching of "English" and "Spanish", in the speech of the Hispanic population of the United Statesmarker and to a lesser extent Gibraltarmarker 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 Californiamarker, Oregonmarker, Washingtonmarker, Texasmarker, Arizonamarker, New Mexicomarker, Floridamarker, Puerto Rico, The City of New Yorkmarker, and Chicagomarker. It is common in Panamamarker, where the 96-year (1903-1999) U.S. control of the Panama Canalmarker 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 Mexicomarker, 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 Britishmarker-controlled Gibraltarmarker 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. Rim (the metal wheel mount for a tire and inner tube assembly) in Spanglish and some Latin American Spanglishes denotes the assembly of all three elements. The standard Spanish word for "rim" is llanta, and the entire assembly is simply termed a "wheel", rueda.
  9. The Spanglish verb chequear derives from the English verb "to check", replacing the Spanish verbs verificar "verify" and comprobar "ascertain". Chequear now is an accepted standard Spanish word; its variant cheque denotes "the transaction went well", as in receiving small change in Honduras. This word also is used as checar.
  10. 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", however, Spanish is a rich language and suceso also denotes "an event" and "a happening", hence, the phrase fue todo un suceso might translate to "it was a great happening". #Accesar derives from the computer usage "to access", instead of acceder, the accepted standard Spanish form. Spanish speakers denounce this redundant anglicism as Spanglish.
  11. "Push" and empujar are true cognates. In Spanglish, "puchar" is used to the same effect.
  12. 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.
  13. Van (la van) is Spanglish for the American English word Van, instead of the standard Spanish la furgoneta.
  14. The English word "footing", as in hacer footing, in Spain denotes "jogging".
  15. Parquear is used instead of the correct Spanish estacionar, it derives from the English word '[to] park'
  16. Bye bye (pronounced bye-bye or bye) is both a Spanglish usage and a Mexican usage, instead of the standard Spanish adiós.
  17. The verbs bulear, janguear, parisear and vacunar derive from the English verbs "to bully", "to hang out", "to party", and "to vacuum"; however, vacunar is standard Spanish for to vaccinate.
  18. The verbs platicar and charlar mean "to chat small-talk", however, an on-line conversation by IRC or IM is chatear (originally denoting "to drink a glass of wine").
  19. Troca denotes "pickup truck" instead of the standard Spanish camioneta.
  20. Computadora derived from "computer" is now accepted standard Spanish, despite the original Spanish term ordenador.
  21. 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.
  22. The adjectives serioso | seriosa denote the English serious instead of the proper serio | seria.
  23. Norsa denotes from "nurse", instead of the standard Spanish enfermera.
  24. Actualmente, meaning "currently," is frequently misused to replace English actually and in fact. The proper Spanish term for actually is de hecho.
  25. Marketa is a frequently used word derived from the English word market (as in Supermarket) instead of the standard Spanish word mercado.
  26. Aíscrim and jotdog are direct derivatives of the English food names ice cream and hot dog. The correct Spanish terms are helado and perrito caliente, respectively.
  27. 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 in 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 festejarse, "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

External links


  1. Diccionario de la lengua española - Vigésima segunda edición
  • 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.

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