Languages have been formed on the basis of contamination… with other languages … I think that contact is good: a pure language, isolated can easily die … Spanish and English are in expansion, they are the great tongues of the West, in great measure due their capacity to absorb one another. The two are derived, sixty percent, from others. We should not fear these processes. ~ Author Carlos Fuentes, on Language
Language, as an intrinsic part of the identity of the self, has an undeniable effect over our lifestyle. For Latinos in the United States, a population that literally lives between two cultures, the language(s) have become more than a simple mode of communication: they have become a symbol of pride in our culture, a sort of political statement, our way of expressing and –why not? – of influencing the environment we come in contact with in this country.
Most of us (biased as we might be) would probably agree that there are many tangible advantages to being bilingual: being more sensitive to cultural differences, being more marketable in an increasingly global economy, as well as endless cognitive and academic advantages, to name a few. Good thing, too, because according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the number of school-age children (children ages 5–17) who speak a language other than English at home rose from 4.7 to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009, or from 10 to 21 percent of the population in this age range. That number of bilingual speakers is projected to increase in the coming years, particularly with the fast growth of the US Latino population.
There’s plenty of information to support the pluses that come with multilingualism, and it is part of the cultural make up of countless other countries… so why is there still resistance in this country to speaking other languages? And what does that mean to the future of American culture?
This ever-green topic will be the focus of our session “Spanglish: From La Calle to Madison Avenue” during our National LATISM ’11 Conference in Chicago, where we will discuss the intricacies of communicating to an increasingly complex Latino demographic. Tonight, though, you have a chance to weigh in on the subject. Join our LATISM Twitter party tonight, and help us make the case for a multilingual America!
- What are the advantages of a bilingualism that outweigh the disadvantages?
- Should Spanish-dominant Latinos be made to learn English, or should Americans be made to learn Spanish?
- What could be the repercutions, for companies and organizations –for America –of sticking to a single language, when communicating to an increasingly multicultural population?
- Is it right or wrong –or does it even matter –to poke fun when others, like NY Mayor Bloomberg, try to speak to us in our language?
- And what is behind the so-called Spanglish Phenomenon? Should we fear to speak what many consider a bastardization of our language?
Party starts at 9pm EST sharp! For now: Hasta la Vista • Ci vediamo • See you later!