Hall 1101-351

Amani Nassar

English 1101

Dr. Hall

October 31, 2018

La Isla del Encanto

Weeepaaa! You have to say it just like that. Make sure the “e” sound last just as long as the “a” sound. You know you’re talking to a Puerto Rican when you hear a “weepaa” every now and then, but this word is not just used for any reason. This slang word is used as a congratulations, during a celebration of almost any kind, and even at a club listening to music and dancing, hearing your friends cheering you on with a “weepaa!” Who would have thought that one word can bring so much pride to its people?

Puerto Ricans are so proud of their latino heritage. We come from a vibrant culture that has lived on for generations from our sweet abuelas to our great, great, great abuelas and so on. Puerto Rico was once named Borinquén by the Taínos who were the first individuals to live on the island. They called themselves Boricuas, which is a term still used to call Puerto Ricans until this day. Slaves were transported from Africa to Puerto Rico while it was under Spanish colonial rule during the 16th century. The blood and traditions of these races make up our Puerto Rican people. Our beautiful island is often referred to as “ la isla del encanto” meaning the island of charm or love. Puerto Rico is such a beloved country by not only its people but by those who visit, from its beautiful white sand beaches to the avocado and banana trees seen in peoples backyards.  

Picture this, you’re at your Puerto Rican family barbeque. Now this is not your typical barbecue with hotdogs and hamburgers, although there might be a few, instead we got the arroz con gandules some pollo, maybe pernil, empanadas, bacalao con yuca, and if you’re lucky pasteles, just to name a few of the many dishes. All of a sudden your favorite merengue song comes on, you grab the closest person to you and you both start dancing, making your own dance floor where everyone can see. Be careful though, competition is coming once la familia gets up and starts dancing alongside of you. When all eyes are on you, you better start moving. Soon enough you’ll hear your mom scream from the crowd “weeeepaaaaa! That’s my baby!” Your favorite tía says “dale chiquita, así lo hace!” Make them proud while you can chiquita, abuela is about to come steal your spotlight.

Spanglish is sometimes used throughout the towns of Puerto Rico and many other countries like it. You will hear Spanglish being used more by a Nuyorican (Puerto Rican New Yorker). Spanglish is simply a language that uses both Spanish and English words or expressions. Instead of saying “what’s up, brother” you could say “what’s up hermano.” There’s no difference in meaning, but there is a difference in the lingo being used that hispanics and even non-hispanics may often times use. Spanglish is vastly used by people of any age, gender, class, or ethnicity and it has been used since the “Spanish-American War of 1898” according to The New York Times Op-ed entitled “For the Love of Spanglish” by Ilan Stavans. The Spanish spoken by other Spanish speaking countries vary from one another, the dialect as well as the meaning and pronunciations of word from each group differ in their own way of communication. The use of Spanglish is growing with each day that passes and it creates a specific individual identity with every group that it comes across.

It is true to say that the Spanish we learn in school, can likely never be used to its full potential as many groups have their own way of speaking Spanish that are continuously changing with time. I for one know this from experience, learning Spanish in school was quite different from the Spanish I spoke at home. Although Spanglish is not new to the world, it is still suppressed by many who dislike its impact. Stavans states “purists have sought to stop the spread of Spanglish. They have described it as a pest, looking for ways to “correct” its speakers’ uncivilized parlance”(4). Spanglish does not call for any means of correction, it is a language developed by its people who constantly use it as a form of communication. To ‘correct’ its speaker would be almost like correcting the culture, it is something that they have created and to take it away from them would be taking away a piece of its peoples identity. To call people uncivilized for making their own form of communication is a disrespect, they should be free to communicate as they please without being scorned for doing so. Spanglish is transitioning our world right before our eyes, it is being used not only for communications by its people, but also on TV and in novels.

A well known novelist, Junot Díaz, is a Dominican-American who is just one of many writers who uses Spanglish in his writings. One of his most famous works is “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” which was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in 2007. In this novel, Díaz speaks of a legend known as the “fukú” seen in Santo Domingo, within his family and he even makes a connection with the murder of JFK. Being a predominantly English written novel, Díaz seems to perfect his literature with the addition of Spanish language in his writing referring to his “tía” and “abuelo.” With even the slightest inclusion of Spanish in his writings, the reader is able to understand how much Díaz identifies with his hispanic heritage, it resonates with his Hispanic readers as they see a language that they are familiar with.  

Our language is a reflection of our heritage. Whether we speak proper English or Spanish slang, we are speaking the tongue of our culture to others. When Hispanics immigrate from their native island to the United States, they usually find themselves in a community with other Spanish speaking individuals like in the Bronx or parts of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Here is where these lations find individuals like them that make this feel like home even though their home is elsewhere. We can not ignore the Spanish tongue that has been around for decades, we have to accept and celebrate this phenomenon for ‘love of Spanglish.’ Weeepaaa!

Bibliography

  1. Stavans, Ilan. “For the Love of Spanglish.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 July 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/opinion/puerto-rico-spanglish.html.
  2. Editors, History.com. “Puerto Rico.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 28 Sept. 2017, www.history.com/topics/us-states/puerto-rico-history.

Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Faber, 2008

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