I’ve been thinking more and more about Spanglish and why it feels so natural to write in a certain style–or speak in a certain style. I think I like Spanglish so much in the fiction because I am trying to capture the way the old folks spoke to me. I’m not trying to create something new or something of my generation though that is partly it I guess. Something essence rare. But the Abuelitos spoke in Spanglish. Simple as that. The old man said things like: I need to wash that old truckito, or That cabron pulled his pistola and nearly killed him, or he would say, I need to fill my thermos with some of that café your Abuelita has got there. Or get the stropajo and clean this shit up.
And I love the way they spoke–the cadence and the ease of tongue. It wasn’t Cervantes’ language and it wasn’t Langston Hughes’ but it was theirs and it was real. It became mine. And I want to breathe new life into the old folks in the fiction. Show you what it was like for me and how I further imagine it was for them. I want to represent as well as recreate the old folks.
And the other day I received a rejection letter from a publication I assumed was okay with Spanglish and Spanish idioms I use in my writing. I send so much work out. And after following the link sent to me to check the submission guidelines, I surmised that the criteria of English-only is what I violated. I can only guess. I met the deadline and the word count and the theme. Had to be the English. (Oh and I guess the strength of the writing.) And I’ve blogged about Spanglish before and my feelings on the importance of bilingual bi-cultural publications for bilingual bi-cultural writers. So today as my students wrote their formal essay assignment I researched a listing of articles on Spanglish. I was surprised as to what I found. And I’ve been thinking about writing about it. Here’s what I found and what I’ll be working on for a while with posts to follow:
“Spanglish: Tickling the Tongue” by Ilan Stavans
“Spanglish is Here to Stay” by Isis Artze
Demystifying Language Mixing: Spanglish in School by Peter Sayer
The Power of Theme and Language in Multi-Cultural Communities by Kathleen Kelly
On so-called Spanglish by Richard Otheguy and Nancy Stern
“Spanglish”: The Language of Chicanos by Rosa Maria Jimenez