Calling for interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Spanglish and its linguistic manifestations

Rodriguez Gonzalez, Eva and Parafita Couto, Maria Del Carmen (2012) Calling for interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Spanglish and its linguistic manifestations. Hispania, 95 (3). pp. 461-480. (

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The aim of the present paper is to provide an overview of the so-called Spanglish phenomenon and its linguistic repertoires (code-switching utterances). We propose that it is necessary to link all different forms of analysis in order to verify hypotheses regarding the relationship among social, linguistic, and cognitive processes behind Spanglish. We argue that Spanglish consists of mixed utterances that result from the contact between two languages: Spanish and English. The characteristics of the contact situation separate Spanglish from pidgins and creoles. Zentella (1997) claims that those characteristics do not fit into a second language acquisition setting either, since the code-switching of Spanish-English bilinguals is different from the transfer-laden speech of second-language learners. However, there is debate regarding Spanglish being either a popular/colloquial Spanish variety within the United States (Otheguy 2009) or part of a more anthropological linguistic entity that corresponds to social formation (Zentella 2008). After years of research (Myers-Scotton 2002; Poplack 1980), the questions concerning the identification of grammatical constraints governing code-switching remain unanswered. Methodologies are changing toward a more comprehensive multilayered approach aimed at a better understanding of how Spanglish functions. Interdisciplinary approaches are highlighted in the paper when identifying future venues of research.