The Spanish of the United States, a language that lacks prestige
New York, April 21 (EFE). The Spanish language in the United States suffers from a fundamental problem of lack of prestige, as revealed Friday at the first round table of the “Language and Identity” conference held for the second year by the Cervantes Institute in New York.
This was the main idea reiterated with nuance by the speakers at the Communication Languages and Bilingualism forum, who expressed that Spanish and ‘Español’ – Castilian full of English words and expressions – are lively but reserved for use in informal settings whether it be with family or friends.
English is still the language of choice in the professional field, and although bilingualism is objectively appreciated, the truth is that Spanish is underestimated right from the school itself, in a country where only 20% of primary school students study a second language ( And this is despite Spanish being the most popular language but with few teaching hours).
Ana Shine, a Uruguayan lawyer working in the publishing world who immigrated to the United States when her daughters were young, recalls how her daughters refused to speak Spanish upon their arrival in the country because they knew it as “the language of the servants.”
While the Italian linguist Piero Visconti, who has lived in Puerto Rico for many years, recalls that among the Boricua who have arrived on the federal lands of the United States, there are many who reject their Spanish and Caribbean “arroz con habichuelas” in favor of butter and peanuts, in a marked desire to ” Cultural adaptation.
When it comes to the use of language, “the prestige factor is very present – insisted the Viscount:: the use of English means ‘I rise’.”
And another American linguist who specialized in Ladino or Judeo-Spanish intervened with them, and also mentioned that among the Jews who emigrated to the United States, children responded to their grandparents in this way if they spoke to them in Ladino: “Don’t talk to me ansina,” they told them. , and asked them to switch to English.
However, the tone of the forum was not catastrophic, and the speakers stressed that a double effort was needed: from Spanish-speaking parents so that their children would not lose the language and from school, although in this second case Latinos do not. They have the tools at their fingertips, because “although they have the economic power, they lack any capacity for educational intervention,” Shin explained.
She herself lamented, in addition, that the teachers who teach Spanish in schools in the United States made frequent misspellings, something that seemed to her more serious than if she were a dentist—she clarified a statement—because it related to her supposed level of field.
Spanish is often declared the second language of the United States: in a country where 80% of the population speaks English as their main language (which has no official status), Spanish is the main language of the remaining 20%, spoken by 12.19% of the population, advanced With a significant difference from the Chinese (0.59%).
But if 27% of the population is Hispanic in the country, this means that the Spanish language is not used regularly by the entire Latino population, which gave rise to the phenomenon of strong acculturation.
Cervantes’ conference continues on Saturday with other round tables dedicated to diverse topics such as “Language and Health”, “Language and Diverse Identities”, “Language and Gender” or “Spanish as a Heritage Language”.
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