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Sociolinguistic analysis of Mexican-American bilingualism: Spanglish as a sociocultural phenomenon


Judyta Pawliszko

The main purpose of the book is to describe the two linguistic-cultural phenomena arising from mass emigration of Mexicans to Los Angeles: Spanish-English bilingualism and Spanglish. The main thesis of the research is the correlation between Spanish-English bilingualism and Spanglish. As public opinion deemed Spanglish as a blocker for linguistic advancement or degraded Spanish, it is actually a method of enhancing the linguistic system. That is why, not only does the research contest the use of such terms, but it also argues that bilingualism is a much more compound and adequate term as well as an analytic framework for the study of bilingual productions. Spanglish should be understood as a form of bilingualism, a hybrid enriching the linguistic system.

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Chapter 5 Data Analysis



According to research, all linguistic systems incorporate borrowings from other languages. Likewise, the code-switching phenomenon demonstrated by the MexicanAmerican speakers in Los Angeles is a natural part of language contact and evolution. The specific context, historical overview and communities involved in American everyday life appear to be pointing towards a distinctive phenomenon as well as a transformation beyond the purely linguistic perspective. Thus, the polemic notion of Spanglish seems to be a figurehead for a much broader sociocultural change in a land historically fundamental to the fusion and formation of new cultures. In fact, it may even be claimed that Spanglish, for the Mexican-American community, not only signifies liberation from the immigrant dichotomy of tradition and assimilation, but it could also be perceived as a new cultural identity.

In what follows, the experiences of Mexican-American immigrants in Los Angeles are examined based on in-depth, open-ended interviews conducted in the years 2014–2016. Vivid description of language contact adds value to this account by depicting the inevitable continuum between social and linguistic factors.

5.1Social view of bilingualism and Spanglish

A surge in the multi-ethnic nature of US culture has led Kandolf (qtd in Błasiak-Tytuła 2011:120) to the profound analysis of 15 different representations of bilingualism. Nevertheless, even though many professionals would consider all of these cases as bilingual, the majority of public opinion would not agree with them. Indeed, in some cases, in spite of being familiar...

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