Oye, you. Yes, tú. ¿Have you ever alguna vez mordido your lengua?
September 24, 2016 10:58 AM   Subscribe

This morning at breakfast, signal jr. asked me "can you palta my bread?"
I was more than happy to paltear it for him.
posted by signal at 11:35 AM on September 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

I understood enough to get the point , I think. We had a lot of Papua New Guineans at school who'd speak pidgin among themselves, which is a bit of a hybrid language. No one ever suggested it was because they were stupid. I thought it was well known that multilingual children have a bit of an edge.

Ese teacher derivaba un triumph sádico de encontrar las cosas that I did not know,

What a jerk.

and the mome raths outgrabe
posted by adept256 at 11:51 AM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I thought this was beautiful and captured something about language and fluency that I missed out on by being more or less monolingual. I loved:
he said “Nooooo” de una forma que elongó el vowel so that it sounded muy, muy patronisante

como es ser una young girl con un mixed patrimonio cultural en los deepest, darkest Midlands del United Kingdom, y yo le dije que sometimes me sentía como Paddington Bear, un poco lost y very sola
posted by ChuraChura at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

The author's reading is really enjoyable (aside from low mic quality? or just too close?), I'd love to hear her read the whole piece
posted by Baethan at 12:07 PM on September 24, 2016

A franglais equivalent.
posted by ITheCosmos at 12:11 PM on September 24, 2016

I thought it was well known that multilingual children have a bit of an edge.

Pardon my cynical idealism-breaking again, but is it well-known: yes. Does that mean that people want it to be true: no. I have friends who speak four languages and who are treated like idiots because when they speak their third language, French, and are asked to speak their fourth, English, it's not quite as fluent as their two native tongues: Algerian-dialect-Arabic and Berber. You could probably count speaking Classical Arabic as a fifth language though it would then count as a third for them, making French and English their fourth and fifth. Do you think they're treated like the incredibly intelligent polyglots they are? Do you think anyone ever gives them the benefit of the doubt when they try to think of the right word in French? (Well, non-native French speakers do, but not the vast majority of native French speakers. We have parallels for this in the States.)

Now, do people go nuts over the fact that Finnish kids, for instance, speak fluent English as well as a third language (that's usually European)? Yeah. Ahem.
posted by fraula at 12:23 PM on September 24, 2016 [15 favorites]

...los deepest, darkest Midlands del United Kingdom...

Ah, the Black Country.
posted by Segundus at 12:24 PM on September 24, 2016

Any more cool Spanglish stuff out there? I'd like to hear more. Love the author's recording.
posted by Hennimore at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I LOVE this. My son is bilingual, but is fortunate enough to live in a country- Spain- where his mother's tongue- English- has a great deal of caché. This is how we talk at home, though, him and his Spanish father and I. We watchear TV. We give the gatito his comidita, and tomorrow vamos a dar un paseo al construction site to see the steamroller and the grua.

his Bachelor’s degree in nosequé

Some things are just expressed better in another language. I always have trouble translating the beautifully succint word aguantar, as in "My hair is driving me crazy, but I don't have time to go to the salon, so I just have to aguantar."
posted by lollymccatburglar at 12:34 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

That was fantastic! So vibrant and evocative.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 1:21 PM on September 24, 2016

That's a wonderful read! I particularly enjoyed the double reflexive "se me occurred to me."
posted by sibilatorix at 2:08 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

There's a few radio stations in my area that de facto operate in Spanglish and it brings me some insensible, unreasoning joy to hear this blending of languages, each person picking the word that makes the most sense to them in any given moment.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 2:27 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is how me (english, raised in NJ, most of the last 15 years in spanish speaking countries) and my wife (5th generation anglo-argentine) and my kids (born in spain) talk! Also how my wife and her family (immediate plus aunts, uncles, cousins) and anglo-argentine friends talk. Some things just come out better in one language or the other. When I talk with my anglophone friends here in Spain, "no se" and "lo que sea" get" get's sprinkled into the english by accident, but my wife's family takes it to extremes, switching backwards and forwards within one short sentence.
My three year old son likes to rast the dogs on the calle. (with a argentine ll, no less).
posted by conifer at 2:58 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't explain why it makes me so happy but I mean. I live in a Hispanic neighborhood in central New Jersey and there's a lot of judgement and recrimination going in all directions.

The other day I met a Hispanic woman who said that nobody should be speaking Spanish in, like, public places where people were speaking English. You can and should speak Spanish at home, but be an American and speak English in public, she said. Another friend of mine works as an interpreter for the municipal courts, and still gets ticked off at "these people" because "you gotta learn English."

When I was waitressing, I would generally let the customer pick the language, because when I made assumptions it always turned out badly. Some people took pride in speaking English. Other people seemed grateful to have me take their order in Spanish, so they'd actually get what they wanted. Other people, it seemed, felt vaguely intruded upon when I spoke Spanish - as if it was their private secret code, safe from white people listening in.

And all of those positions are fine. I don't judge any of them. It's so hard to convince people that, no, you're okay.

This one white woman screamed at my Hispanic customers and then screamed at me for being "one of them".

The manager was a guy from Mexico who hired unauthorized immigrants, and seemed to respect them more than he respected me. But he simultaneously seemed to look down on me for trying to make friends with them.

One of those unauthorized gentlemen became a very good friend, graciously working around the language barrier with me as I learned Spanish. We both made these unthinking accommodations for each other, picking words and grammatical structures that we knew the other would understand, in a mixture of Spanish and English.

The choice of language is so political, and tied up in blame and shame, that Spanglish feels like pure freedom in comparison. And it always reminds me of those conversations with my friend.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 3:11 PM on September 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah, Spanglish is my mother tongue, same as for my son. While reading TFA, I had to concentrate to figure when they were switching languages, it just flowed for me. Same for when my son speaks, I have to slow down to figure out if he's speaking in English, Spanish or both.

Re: the asshole teacher trying to find small 'errors' in her Spanish, I used to lived with an otherwise nice monolingual Enlgish speaking guy, who once went on a rant about a bilingual Mexican woman who, was, according to him, 'ignorant about her own language', because he'd asked her how to say 'brass' in Spanish and she had no clue. He obviously expected me to say 'wow, how ignorant', but what I actually said was 'yeah, I have no clue, either'. (I looked it up later, it's 'latón'). Some monolinguals have weird expectations about normal, polyglot people.
posted by signal at 4:37 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

La palabra más magical de este piece is "hooverando." It just has this sentido de bilingüismo that makes me jealous as a monoglot.
posted by graymouser at 5:04 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

an otherwise nice monolingual Enlgish speaking guy, who once went on a rant about a bilingual Mexican woman who, was, according to him, 'ignorant about her own language', because he'd asked her how to say 'brass' in Spanish and she had no clue

Beuh? What a cock. It's especially dumb because the vast majority of people probably couldn't tell you what "brass" even really is, beyond a yellowish metal that some things are made of or plated with. Like, how did this guy go about asking this question? Holding up a brass object and saying "what do you call this metal in Spanish"?

Like, it would be weird if a Spanish-speaker didn't know any word off the top of their head for "to eat", but who gives a shit if they can't immediately recall the nomenclature for various alloys.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:16 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ah, this is s really nice piece if writing. It makes me nostalgic for yesterday in the breakroom.
posted by happyroach at 6:21 PM on September 24, 2016

Raising bilingual Australian-Spanish children in Australia, it's difficult to keep the balance between celebrating natural Spanglish and enforcing Spanish conversation --without English creeping in-- so they expand their vcabulary as they get enough hours of practice at their second language.

What I do: speak Spanish to them exclusively, and give them the Spanish vocabulary when they insert English in a Spanish sentence. I applaud their Spanglish when they insert Spanish vocabulary in English.

Also, there's a lot in codeswitching that isn't conveyed in writing. My favourite is when my daughters are speaking English but pronounce words (usually foodstuffs, so "chorizo" or "paella") with the proper Spanish sounds. In writing, it wouldn't even look like Spanglish, they are sentences the English speaker around me would also say, just with different pronounciation.
posted by kandinski at 6:49 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ana Celia Zentella once suggested that bilinguals are treated as if they were “two monolinguals stuck at the neck, that is, with one tongue in control of two inviolably separate systems”. [...] I resist these suggestions that I am binary, that I embody two identities separately. Certainly I can, with effort, be either/or. However, I would rather be both at once. I would rather be allowed to be a syncretistic, kaleidoscopic whole.

Yeah, dura lex, and the long arm of normativity.

I've lived by a principle of separation of my languages, maybe because there was never an issue of stigma of one with respect to another, no actual potential of relexification between them. But I do wonder if I've looked into the ideology behind one-parent-one-language enough.

There are some really interesting tensions in this; that it's UK Spanglish; that what's usually a conversational language is being (creatively) written (and read) in, so altogether a different flow than it would have spontaneously; the artefact of some of her English words taking the Spanish pronunciation.

Also, her middle name is awesome.
posted by progosk at 1:34 AM on September 25, 2016

Having grown up Spanglish, I find reading Spanglish to be really odd. When you're speaking it's normal to just pick the first word or phrase that comes to mind, but when you are writing you have to choose your words. Choosing to indiscriminately intermix the languages feels forced to me.

Escriver en español no es tan dificil, neither is writing in English. Y, claro, muchas gentes can switch perfectamente fine. Pero escivir in Spanglish is como writing in slang. Es un decision. No se, maybe it's porque yo paso mís dias teaching proper college writing.
posted by oddman at 5:47 AM on September 25, 2016

I love this so much, because it's how my mother's spoken for years ... and my ears didn't parse it as odd until someone (a visitor) would look all confused. Although I would deliberately trip mum up sometimes by introducing a Spanish phrase into the middle of her English and then it would go all cockup what language she'd then speak.

All the more now that I'm trying to expand my castellano again so I can go back over to where my mother's resettled, and I find my Spanish being inserted by English words when I am stuck for what's meant to go there...

Not to mention the way her mother goes off! Oh, the joy of the the Peruvian woman (like my mum!) getting all tetchy and going on a rant. <3
posted by owlrigh at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2016

he'd asked her how to say 'brass' in Spanish and she had no clue

I only learned somewhat recently that en:brass and pt:latão are the same thing, even knowing both are copper alloys. Just never connected it, because I don't think of the metal that often, and "brass" to me is a group of synthesizer presets.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:57 PM on September 25, 2016

When I was two, my grandfather taught me to declaim:

Once upon a vez a little mariposa was flying and flying, when de repente azotó "¡Ajijo!", she dijo, "I forgot to open my alitas."

I think he would be proud of su biznieta chicanita.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 2:59 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

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