25 December 2010


The article "Spanglish: Speaking la Lengua Loca" (2007) by Ilan Stavans talks about the mainstreaming of a mixed language:

"Curiosity about Spanglish is abundant. Is it a dialect? Should it be compared with Creole? What are the similarities with black English? Will it become a full-fledged, self-sufficient language with its recognizable syntax? Linguists seem to have different responses to these questions. Personally, I answer to the latter question with a quote from linguist Max Weinreich, who wrote a multivolume history of Yiddish. Weinreich said that the difference between a language and a dialect is that the language has an army and a navy behind it. I also often call attention to the fact that in the last couple of decades, an effort to write in Spanglish has taken place in numerous circles, which means the form of communication is ceasing to exist at a strictly oral level. There are novels, stories, and poems in it already, as well as movies, songs, and endless Internet sites."

Multilingual literature does not have an army and a navy behind it, but it does count some of the world's best writers among its revolutionaries.  As the history of the world shows, armies and navies eventually all surrender to the few, stout-hearted men and women of subversive movements.

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