In the past couple of years, I have been writing a history of the Spanish language. My device is decidedly whimsical: I am reducing a millennium to five sentences, all of them taken from literary documents. The first sentence is from a jarcha , a poem written during the Arab domination of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the first sentence of Don Quixote of La Mancha , part one, chapter 1, by Miguel de Cervantes, in my own rendition into Spanglish. It was published, along with the translation of the entire first chapter of the novel, in Barcelona, in Before I go any further, let me offer a definition of Spanglish.
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The new lexicon is a hybrid of the Spanish and English languages, where speakers use code-switching and false cognates to communicate. For Rios, and many who live in Guadalajara, the Spanish colonial heart of Mexico, the use of Spanglish is considered an insult to Hispanic culture.
Here in central Mexico, people are prone to rolling their eyes at Spanglish, or for that matter any cultural trend from the frontera, which many locals perceive to be violent and perhaps the reason Mexico gets a bad rep as a corrupt, backwards country. Supporters of the new lexicon argue Spanglish should be recognized as a language in its own right, as the lingua franca of immigrants, their children and grand-children, who are trying to bridge the gap between the world of their mother tongue and their newly-adopted language.
Despite the naysayers and having received a death threat from one infuriated correspondent, the Mexican-born Stavans welcomes the debate. At least they cannot ignore it. He hopes to publish his complete version in two years. Stavans supporters say that if Quijote can be translated into more than three-dozen languages, among them, Sankrit, Hebrew and Russian, then translating the novel into Spanglish should be no different.
Spanish was also the result of marriage, a marriage between Latin, Greek and Arabic. He said that erudite intellectuals should think twice before they dismiss what marks an important cultural transition in the Hispanic world. Spanglish was born from the mouths of uneducated masses of immigrants who fled their Hispanic native countries to look for better opportunities in the United States, Valenzuela says.
Stavans believes the real fury over his work goes beyond a debate over semantics but represents, on a grander scale, a cultural rift among Hispanics around the world.
Latios are no longer Spanish speakers, that they are creating something new. Other than the Bible, few books have been translated into more languages than El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de La Mancha.
The first translation was published in English by Thomas Shelton in This translation was followed by the French translation in and the Italian in , and many translations in numerous languages, including Esperanto, followed. More recently, in , Edith Grossman, a renowned translator of Spanish literature, produced another much-lauded English language translation.
No doubt Cervantes would have been most pleased to see his work spread across the globe. He implies that all retellings and translations are but partial mediations that diverge from the original story. New translations of classic texts are appropriate because language is constantly evolving. Consequently, earlier translations become dated for contemporary audiences. Cervantes was a master of reproducing a variety of dialects; he captured colloquial, informal, and formal language across historical periods, social classes, and speech styles.
Don Quixote contains a plethora of voices as well as parodies of the language of chivalric novels and other prose styles while representing seventeenth-century Spanish colloquial and high-brow speech. As do all languages, Spanish has evolved significantly, and translators are challenged to produce a text that captures the vitality of the language today in the same manner that Cervantes captured the language s of his day.
Now, four hundred years after the birth of the original, English and Spanish bilingual and bicultural readers can enjoy a new translation of part of Don Quixote in Spanglish. It includes an essay on the origin and meaning of Spanglish; a page, 6,word Spanglish-English dictionary; and finally, a Spanglish version of the first chapter of Don Quixote.
Spanglish is a linguistic and cultural phenomenon born of the contact of languages and cultures. Although the term was once used to criticize the ways Latinos spoke in the United States, it has now been appropriated by many in that community as a positive term that captures the reality of bilingualism and biculturalism in the United States. In the United States today there are approximately forty-million Latinos, and many speak a range of language varieties that include English, Spanish, and Spanglish.
While some Latinos are monolingual Spanish or English speakers, many more have varying degrees of proficiency in both languages, and many can and do mix the languages, producing a creative Spanglish. Language purists in the United States and across the Spanish-speaking world insist that Spanglish is an adulteration of Spanish and English.
Academics and others claim that Spanglish is nothing but uneducated speech that should not be promoted because it relegates its speakers to a stigmatized, second-class status. Sociolinguists and many writers and cultural critics agree that Spanglish represents a natural and creative blending of languages that occurs because of the intense contact between Spanish and English language and culture in the United States and increasingly, as English spreads worldwide, in other Spanish-speaking countries.
Although advertisers and corporate moguls utilize and exploit Spanglish for its commercial potential, for many young Latinos it is a valued part of their identity and an important symbol of Latinidad. Gloria Anzaldua reminds us that the language of Latinos has always been under attack. Spanglish may be a contested term, but it is generally understood to describe a series of phenomena that includes borrowing, code-switching, and calquing. All three linguistic processes typically occur in language-contact situations.
The most common of these processes is borrowing. As an analysis of the lexicon of any language will demonstrate, all languages incorporate borrowed elements from other languages. Spanglish words can be borrowed with or without phonetic and morphological integration.
Code-switching entails the alternation of two or more languages in a single utterance. Words can be mixed at the word, clause, or sentence level.
Single-word code-switching and code-switching between sentences are common practices and can be engaged in by speakers with little proficiency in a second language.
On the other hand, intra-sentential code-switching, which involves switching any number of constituents within a sentence, is a much more complex, rule-governed practice. Only speakers who are reasonably proficient in the languages can successfully switch between them within the sentence without violating the grammatical rules of either language. The most general syntactic rules for intra-sentential code-switching are the free morpheme constraint, which states that there will be no switching between bound morphemes, and the equivalency constraint, which predicts that a switch will not occur at any site where it would result in an ungrammatical structure in either language.
In a study of a stable, bilingual Puerto Rican community in New York City, Shana Poplack found that there were almost no ungrammatical combinations of English or Spanish in the speech of bilinguals in the community.
She demonstrates that it was precisely those speakers who were balanced bilinguals who most frequently engaged in intra-sentential code-switching.
Speakers who have a great deal of competence in both languages are the ones who can seamlessly alternate between Spanish and English in extended discourse. Poplack even suggests that the ability to produce such intimate mixing could be used to gauge the linguistic competence of speakers in both languages.
Caiques are also common in Spanglish; these are translated items that already exist in the borrowing language but that acquire a new meaning in the lending language. They can consist of single-word items i. While Spanglish is primarily associated with the speech of bilingual and bicultural working-class Latinos in the United States, it is found to be occasionally used by Latinos of all social classes as well as across the Hispanic world, especially in the media, music, and cyberspace.
In the U. Although all varieties share common rules of code-switching and borrowing, each variety incorporates some lexical items that are unique. Tex-Mex is the name associated with the Chicano variety from the Southwest, while Spanglish or Nuyorican has been used to describe the Puerto Rican variety, and Cubonics identifies the variety from Miami. Nuyorican and Chicano poets have been documenting the code-switching ways of speaking in the Latino community since the s.
These writers, as well as more recent writers who experiment with bilingualism in more modest ways, created a space for the publication of new Latino texts that can only be read by bilingual readers. The reality of the growth of Latino communities in the United States and the success of Latino authors in the mainstream market have paved the way for writers who are attempting more daring linguistic experiments.
This playful text contains bilingual poetry, monologues, and dialogues sandwiched between two lengthy Spanish-language chapters. There is rarely a sentence that does not contain both Spanish and English. It is a good example of sustained intra-sentential code-switching, the type that is only seen in the speech of the most fluent bilingual speakers in a bilingual and bicultural community.
It is a democratizing and political move of which Cervantes probably would have approved. After all, Don Quixote is, above all, a novel about the encounter of cultures, classes, and ways of speaking. Since the mid s, Ilan Stavans has argued for the legitimization of Spanglish. Stavans explains that he was inspired to translate Don Quixote during a trip to Spain in Stavans reports that, subsequently, he was asked by an editor for La Vanguardia in Barcelona to produce the translation.
It was first published in the supplement Culturals in In his quest to translate Don Quixote, Stavans was challenged by the fact that Spanglish is primarily an oral language. Furthermore, there is not just one Spanglish because each Latino region in the United States produces its own variety.
Therefore, rather than reproducing a particular regional Spanglish in his version of Don Quixote, Stavans elected to produce a text that incorporates lexical terms from a range of varieties. In this sense, his translation becomes an artificial and abstract rendition.
Stavans is aware that what marks the development of a language and separates it from dialects is the appearance of a grammar, a dictionary, and a literature. He is the first to acknowledge that Spanglish is an emerging variety. His book is an initial effort toward a process of standardization. In un placete de La Mancha of which nombre no quiero remembrearme, vivia, not so long ago, uno de esos gentlemen who always tienen una lanza in the rack, una buckler antique, a skinny caballo y un greyhound para el chase.
The strategies Stavans employs in these two sentences are typical of the entire translation. He capitalizes the names of the days of the week, following the rules of English, even though the days are rendered in Spanish. It is difficult to identify either English or Spanish as the base language in the chapter. This serves to represent intra-sentential code-switching as produced by those bilinguals who have a strong proficiency in both languages.
Stavans claims that all the items in his dictionary and, presumably, in his translation have been attested in oral or written speech at least three times, but I remain skeptical. Nonetheless, despite the numerous violations of the equivalency constraint, the bound morpheme constraint, and the unlikely neologisms, the translation will probably provide pleasure to many Spanglish speakers.
To his credit, Stavans acknowledges that Spanglish is primarily an oral language, so that his literary experiment is bound to be forced and inelegant in some places. In any case, the translation is a fun, clever, and linguistically interesting extravaganza.
It will not win any literary prizes, but it is engaging and readable. Although this Spanglish translation is only accessible to Spanglish or bilingual readers, it is important to realize that there are probably not any Latinos who are exclusively Spanglish speakers or readers.
Just as monolingual speakers control a range of varieties in their linguistic repertoire, most Spanglish speakers can switch to Spanish or English when confronted with monolingual speakers or texts. That they can also converse in this creative, mixed code is a result of living in a bilingual and bicultural context. If not, they will have to wait until Stavans or another Spanglish virtuoso decides to take on the challenge of completing the Spanglish translation.
The first two sentences of the translation read: In un placete de La Mancha of which nombre no quiero remembrearme, vivia, not so long ago, uno de esos gentlemen who always tienen una lanza in the rack, una buckler antique, a skinny caballo y un greyhound para el chase.
THE QUIJOTE IN SPANGLISH
And he is not alone. What it seems unquestionable is that the growing Hispanic community in the US , with about 60 million people, has strongly pushed Spanish idiom in the country. Review grammar: coordinating conjunctions , prepositions in Spanish. Optional callout text left side. Optional callout text right side.
Review of prior translations
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