Friday, November 19, 2010


I love the fact that my children are now official Spanglish speakers. Somehow this characteristic endears them even more deeply to my heart because it gives me a sense of connection between their "MK-hood" and my own. Besides, it also lends itself to some humorous moments!

This morning, Owen asked me what day of the week it was. "Friday," I replied. "But in Spanish?" he asked. "Viernes," I answered. He nodded his head and skipped happily to the door. "Oh, Viernes! Because the teacher asks us and we have to know." I had to chuckle because this isn't the first time we've observed the kids compartmentalizing some common knowledge into English or Spanish based on whether they use it in school.

In fact, Eva did the same thing this morning as she was gathering her books for school. She was chattering away with Pedro in English, but when the subject changed to something related to her homework she suddenly launched into a Spanish monologue. Her daddy was much amused, especially when she finally stopped and said, "I don't know why I'm talking in Spanish!"

More often than not, it's just a word here or there that fits the occasion better in one language than the other. Growing up, my sisters and I did this all the time but when I went back to the States for college I had to clean up my language (so to speak!) and keep it to one dialect. Now, however, I can throw Spanglish around and my kids understand it just fine. This gives a fun new dynamic to our family life.

Even Ian and Alec are getting into the swing of things. Although they are mostly around English, there are certain Spanish words that they've adopted and use almost exclusively. For instance, they use "ven" or "vamos" for "come here" or "let's go." We think it's probably because of the similarity to its Haitian Creole equivalent, "vini." Another expression they use often is "permiso" which translates to "excuse me." They sound like very polite little men when they use it! "Permiso, Ian! Permiso, Alec!" as they scoot around piles of toys and whiz their little bikes down the driveway.

So I say, Viva the Spanglish!


Terri Fisher said...

Love it! I don't get any satisfaction out of using my Spanish anymore, b/c noone in my family understands it! I can't even bad mouth isn't worth my while! :)

panim said...

We use that a lot in our house, too! My favorite, though is when they say an english word with a totally spanish pronunciation, even though they are fluent english speakers. Cracks me up...

Corey and Nicki Shields said...

Catching up on your posts now, and this one caught my eye. We find ourselves doing that too for our version of Japanglish. There really just are words that are more fitting in one language that the other. But I would guess that together our Japanglish and your Spanglish would be quite confusing!

I have noticed the compartmentalization as well. The kids will ask me how do you say ... when I know they have used that particular word before. It is fun, since I am newer to the whole bilingual thing, to watch the kids make all those interesting language connections. My oldest has become a whiz at play on words in Japanese and even in using Japanese and English to make plays on words. Amazing!