Having Spanglish Fun

Posted by:  |  Category: Bicultural Vida, Daily Blog


Having Spanglish Fun

Secondo’s days of excessive repetitive motions involving toy vehicles are for the most part over, but he still has a tremendous passion for airplanes, buses, cars and trucks. The centerpiece of the boys’ room is a rug made up of an intricate design of roads, runways and parking spaces. It gets a lot of use, so I finally remember to throw it in the washing machine one day. I hang it up to dry, though, and forget to bring it back in.

Secondo, of course, notices immediately when we go into the bedroom to start our bedtime routine. Mama, he asks, ¿dónde está la…?—a pause as he struggles to remember the word–¿carpe–? And although usually I’m gentle when correcting mistakes, this time I interrupt him before he can even get the whole word out, because I know where this is going and he’s about to be guilty of using my biggest pet peeve ever. ¡No! I yelp. ¡Se dice alfombra! No se dice carpeta.

Secondo looks at me, surprised. No se dice carpeta, he repeats, bemusedly. And then I decide that as long as I’ve come this far, I might as well go all the way. I pull his homework folder out of his backpack. Esto es carpeta, I tell him, faux sternly. I point at the rug I’ve put back on the floor. Eso es alfombra.

And then, they both start to laugh. For about the next fifteen minutes, they laugh so hard they can hardly get the words out. ¡Carpeta es folder! ¡Rug es alfombra! ¿Cómo se dice rug? ¿Cómo se dice folder? They find the whole thing hilarious, and I’m laughing as hard as they are.

We’ve talked about Spanglish before. Hey, ¡estás hablando Spanglish! I’ll say, if they make up a word. I’ll use it with them in fun, sometimes. Eso está full. Vamos pa’ la house. And my favorite, the one I grew up using, ¡let’s gómonos! To which they’ll reply, laughing, Mama, eso es Spanglish.

Language is flexible and ever changing. Language is fun, and learning two languages means you have so much more to play with. We talk about what things mean, and other ways to say them, and how English and Spanish are different. They’re still deep in their questioning phase, constantly asking me how to say things in Spanish. I want them to remain curious about language. I want them always to have fun with it.  But I could not let the carpeta incident slide.

And while I was at it, I told Primo that actualmente does not mean “actually.”

{Photo By Robert Brook}


Recent Posts