[lg policy] Interesting borrowing from English into Spanish: ‘No Hangeo’

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 3 15:02:56 UTC 2013

 ‘No Hangeo’

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Alves

I’ve come across the expression on street corners, near pizzerias, outside
grocery stores, always as a prohibition. The location is invariably in
Latino neighborhoods. Needless to say, the expression isn’t registered in
either the *OED* or in the *DLE* (*Diccionario de la Lengua Española de la
Real Academia*), which doesn’t surprise me. Lexicons have been slow in
incorporating Spanglishisms, even one as versatile as this one.

Elsewhere I’ve seen the word in action: as verb (*hangiar*), as noun (
*hangiador*), and as adjective (*hangiante*). On rare occasions, I’ve come
across slight spelling variations: *No Hangueo* and, even less frequently, *No

It comes from “hanging out,” a popular expression among American youth.
*Merriam-Webster* defines “hangout” as a favorite place for spending time
and “hang out” as the act of protruding. My 21-year-old son Josh, a senior
at a New York university, often invites me, via email, “to hang out
together,” meaning to spend valuable time with each other next time I’m in

In contrast, *hangiar* is confrontational almost to the point of
xenophobia: It is a Latino art par excellence, i.e., the incapacity to take
control, the desire to exist in a dissipated state. Since the *No
Hangeo*signs are placed where 13- to 25-year-old Latinos will see
them, the
message is clear: “you young Spanglish-speaking ne’er-do-gooders, get out
of sight.”

You might ask: Why not state the same expression in English: No Hanging
Out? After all, it might have a somewhat different connotation, although it
appears to make the same point. It doesn’t, though because *No
Hangeo*acknowledges that both the announcer and his target have a
common Latino
background. As such, the message in Spanglish proclaims: I too could be
*hangiando* like you, but I’ve chosen to focus my attention. So wake up,
bro’; *ese*—*despiértate*!

Conversely, why not write the expression in Spanish? Because there is no
simple way of saying “hanging out” *en español*. *Andar por allí* is a more
itinerant turn of phrase: It is used to refer to someone not in a
stationary state but wandering around. *Pasar el rato* is used for wasting
time, though it doesn’t have a negative connotation. Other jargon
expressions—and there are plenty, depending on the
country—*quemándola*(burning it), *zumbando
como mosca muerta* (buzzing like a dead fly), and, succinctly, *no haciendo
nada* (doing nothing) don’t appear to be suitable for official urban signs.

Not long ago, a friend of mine who is a high-school teacher in Holyoke,
Mass., while toying with the word, told me he is thinking of placing an ad
outside his office: “*Sí hangiar*.” He feels strongly about it. “Students
today have been turned into reward seekers. But Ilan, if there is order in
chaos then there is concentration in dissipation. In the classroom and
outside, we should not penalize them for taking it easy. Instead, when
learning we should make them feel as if they are just having a good time.
So they think they are fooling you, but in fact you’re fooling them. After
all, isn’t Hispanic culture about knowing how to *saborear el momento*?”

I like the idea of turning the expression on its head. I’m reminded of a
beautiful line by Borges: “*yo vivo, yo me dejo vivir*.” I live, I let
myself live.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lgpolicy-list/attachments/20131203/33628032/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list