The type of Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico certainly has its own characteristics, but it does share linguistic features with the continental Caribbean and other West Indian islands.
The Spanglish Phenomena
This migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States has resulted in an interesting phenomenon known as ‘code switching’ - now commonly known as Spanglish.
This language mixture is not a separate dialect, nor is it a unique characteristic of Puerto Rican culture: it’s basically a simple and convenient method of speaking for people who are not completely fluent in either language. Spanglish is also characterized by the borrowing of English words, but of course there are cases where Spanglish simply becomes the misuse of English.
More Information on Spanglish
‘Spanglish’ is a result of the interaction between Spanish (which is a Romance language) and English (a Germanic language) – Spanglish is used by people who either speak parts of both languages or are fluent in both. It’s a language variation that combines Spanish and English in diverse ways and at different degrees, depending on the community that’s using it. It’s described as a way of communication where a person starts in one language, then switches to the other back and forth.
There are many varied reasons for the emergence of Spanglish, but the main factor is the Latina immigration to the United States. This might have been for social, political, or economic reasons. To understand this phenomenon more fully, you need to go back to the settlement of Spanish missions and colonies in regions of Florida and California, because they have a lot to do with the presence of Spanish in the United States. And of course in addition to these factors there’s the migration to the United States from various countries where Spanish is spoken, particularly Porto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and parts of Central America.
Spanglish is basically a border and hybrid language, and how it’s spoken depends on the location of the speaker or the listener. One person might speak many types of Spanglish such as Tex-Mex (Mexican and English), Cubonix (a mixture of Cuban and English) or Dominicanish (a mixture of Dominican and English).
It’s always worth remembering that languages are in constant change: they evolve according to processes of linguistic change; changes in philology and vocabulary - and of course older speakers are constantly being replaced by younger people.
Some Spanglish Translations
Perhaps even you are guilty of using some of these words?
Parree means party: Who doesn’t love a good party? In both Latina and American cultures partying is an important part of life but the correct word is actually fiesta.
¿Que es la que hay? Sort of slang, sort of Spanglish - this roughly translates to ‘what’s up’?
Jamberger: The hamburger is a true American delicacy; however, the correct translation is hamburgesa.
El parking: this is a parking spot in a parking lot. The correct word is estacionamiento but saying El parking is a lot cooler and quicker to say!
¿Estás ready? This is a question asking if you’re ready? The correct translation is ¿Estás listo?