nucular and Latino

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Nov 14 13:09:17 UTC 2001


You bet it's another subject. "Not being fond of Spanglish" (or any
variety) carries unfortunate social implications. You can't be unfond
of human practices without condemning the producers. I am unfond of
murder, and, by saying so, I mean to condemn murderers. What do we
mean to condemn in the makeup of code-switchers? Code-switching (the
phenomenon which produces so-called "Spanglish") is a community-based
linguistic phenomenon, one probably much more common in the history
of all languages (includiing Spanish and English) that is normally
thought to be the case outside the linguistic community.

To attack just one myth which feeds the dislike of code-swithed
varieties, studies of code-switching have found, for example, that
fluent code-switching usually points to greater fluency in the two
languages involved (although common knowledge suggests that
code-switchers do so out of some deficiency in one of the languages
involved - but it just ain't so).


>  > >How come many Hispanic and non-Hispanic native speakers of English
>>  >pronounce "Latino" and "Latina" as if they were Spanish words when
>>  >speaking English?
>>  Is the question why it's /la'tinou/ instead of /l&'tinou/ or /l@'tinou/?
>>  [I've heard all of these, I think.] [replace /ou/ with /@/ for the female
>>  form.]
>>  Or is a more 'English' alternative suggested, along the lines of
>/'l&t at nou/
>>  (like "domino"/"stamina") or /l@'tainou/ (like "albino"/"vagina")?
>>  [I don't think they need to mutate that far: several words -- such as
>>  "casino", "marina" -- are commonly pronounced with accented penult with
>>  without seeming 'foreign'.]
>>  -- Doug Wilson
>I know nothing about phonetics (or linguistics, for that matter), but it
>seems to me that a lot of Americans, both Hispanic and Anglo, pronounce
>"Latino" in a way quite unlike "casino." They pronounce it the way one would
>say Latino in Spanish. In mid-sentence the word Latino requires an acrobatic
>maneuver: you have stop for a nanosecond to switch from English to Spanish
>and then stop again for another split second to switch back to English. To
>me it sounds like an affectation. The American pronunciation of lots of
>foreign or borrowed words and names is interesting. Lots of Americans insist
>on pronouncing the "gh" in Van Gogh like the "ch" in a Scottish loch,
>although a regular g or k would be more natural, but wouldn't go so far as
>to pronounce the initial G before the o like a German ch or Spanish j. And
>they wouldn't dream of pronouncing Immanuel Kant the German way, because it
>sounds too close to "cunt" for comfort. This "Latino" business grates on me,
>possibly because I'm a Spanish speaker and not terribly fond of Spanglish -
>although I presume that linguists reckon that Spanglish is just as
>legitimate as English or Spanish. But that's another subject...
>Paul Frank
>English translation from Chinese, German,
>French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese
>Tel. +33 450 709 990 - Thollon, France
>E-mail: paulfrank at

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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