Should Spanglish be spoken on the Net?

As debates rage about the proper place of English and Spanish in
both the classroom and the home, (in Texas one judge ordered a
Mexican woman to speak English to her American-born child) it
should come as no surprise that Latinos around the world are
debating the use of Spanglish — the melding of Spanish and English
words — on the Internet. And the discussion strikes at the heart
of larger issues about the possibility of multicultural identity in
a world made increasingly borderless by the problems and promises
of technology.

According to the
Computer Spanglish Web
‘computer Spanglish emerges as an add-on to the Spanish
language due to the influence of English-speaking machines.’
Developed by Yolanda Rives, a Peruvian graduate student at the
University of Texas in Austin, the site is an effort to bridge the
gap between Spanish-speaking users of technology and the English
speakers who developed the technology. As Rives explains in her
introduction to the dictionary of words she has compiled, ‘Computer
Spanglish is not only a sign of the evolution of a language, but of
its people who are bound by a new medium: The computer.’

Despite Rives enthusiasm, not everyone sees terms like ‘drag el
mouse’ as progress. An article about Rives in the Austin
(Aug. 30, 1995) quotes people who believe
that accepting Spanglish terms (both online and off) as standard
usage is dangerous not only because it dilutes cultural identity,
but because Latinos who don’t know English will be left out.

For now, there are no clear answers to the larger questions
surrounding American bilingualism and its implications for our
culture as the development of new technologies renews the debate.
In the meantime, there are a handful of other places on the Net
that attempt to navigate the middle ground between English and
Latino cultures including
Border Spaces in Textual Reality
, a MOO developed out of a
University of Texas class about NAFTA and the US/Mexico border.

Original to Utne Reader Online

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.