Spanglish: new language or linguistic derivative?


If you are walking the streets of Los Angeles and you hear someone yelling, “gauchau!”, the heads up! Because what they are yelling is “watch out” with a Spanish pronunciation. And this is just another new Spanglish word.
But, where does Spanglish come from? Is it a new language or simply a result of poor translation? We’re putting Spanglish under the magnifying glass!

Do you know Spanglish?

It isn't a new term. It first appeared between 1950 and 1970 in the United States, primarily in certain states (Florida, Texas, California, and New York) within Spanish speaking communities (where there are some of the largest Hispanic populations in the world).

Spanglish is a hybrid language wherein:

  • Spanish and English words are mixed within a phrase without being translated;
  • English words are changed due to improper translation;
  • Or English words are given a Spanish pronunciation, creating new words.

Among the 50 million Spanish speakers in the US, approximately half of them use Spanglish. More than a simple fad, it is a linguistic phenomenon with cultural impacts.

Moreover, Spanglish is widespread in Latin American countries (Puerto Rico, Panama) and is even looking to install itself in Spain!

Do you habla Spanglish? A bit of vocabulary...

Here are a few examples of words and expression with have evolved from their roots to become a part of the Spanglish vocabulary:


  • Reset→reiniciar→resetear
  • Appointment→cita→apointment
  • To eat lunch→almorzar→lanchar
  • Market→mercado→marqueta
  • The roof of the building→el techo del edificio→el rufo del bîldin
  • To go shopping→ir de compras→ir de shopping
  • To enjoy→disfrutar→enjoyar
  • Highway→autopista→jaiwey
  • One more time→otra vez→uanmortaim
  • To agree→estar de acuerdo→agriar
  • To see→ver→siir
  • To disappoint→decepcionar→disapuntar
  • Running→correr→footing
  • To park→aparcar→parquear
  • Please→por favor→plis
  • To text→escribir un mensaje de texto→textear


  • Estacionar→ to park→ parquear
  • Camioneta→ Truck→ troca
  • Reloj→ watch→ wacho
  • Gratis→ by the face→ baidefeis

Originally, a way to ease communications for Hispanic communities in the United States, Spanglish has now become an embodiment of that dual-culture.

Reclaiming their Tex-Mex roots and education, the Hispanic Americans have slowly begun to develop written Spanglish in:

  • Written press: examples El Diario - La Prensa (New York) in which Ilán Stavans from Amherst College, reveals that the Spanish language has been influence, or even modified, by English;
  • Literature, notably with Giannin Braschi's novel Yo-Yo Boing!;
  • Advertisements; etc;

Talk, mix, innovate!

Other languages get mixed as well.
For example, in the Basque Country in Spain, Spanish and Basque (called, Euskara) have created a mix called Euskañol.
In Peru, the younger generation of the community of Japanese emigrants speak Japoñol.
In South America, they speak Portuñol, a mix of Spanish and Portuguese.
Spanish can also mix with indigenous languages, creating things like Qichuañol (from the Kichwa region of Ecuador) and Aymaragnol (with the Aymara people in Bolivia).

On top of meetings between cultural communities, technologies and the business world can also be the source of linguistic mixes.
Such is the story with the development of Franglish in French: marketing, conference call, brainstorming, cookie, chat, web, browser, mail, etc.

An upsetting evolution...

Spanglish is continuing to evolve, just like Franglish in France, for example.
And while some claim this is a cultural loss, or a loss of identity, others admire the creativity of those who adopt these new codes and the living nature of languages.

What do you think?