The Rise of Spanglish

The term Spanglish came into existence between 1965 and 1970 and refers to any expression in Spanish that borrows parts of English, especially as substitutions of Spanish words.

The most common fields that use and abuse Spanglish are areas related to technology, since most of the products introduced into the market are in English. These terms are commonly used by industry experts and when professionals from other languages need the translation of a text, they don’t want a translation that is so foreign to them for a concept in English that has become widely recognized. They prefer terms that are familiar over terms that are perhaps more correct in their own language.

This is how we have coined words such as resetear (reset), zipear (zip), formatear (format), tipear (type) and bacapear (backup), for example.

As translators, we are frequently horrified when reading text in Spanish that “sounds like English” precisely because they mirror the original in English. We find ourselves saying, “I would never translate like this”. However, the problem is that at times, some clients present us with a dilemma. We can either respect their wishes and use their preferred terminology even if it sounds like English, or translate and follow our own linguistic criteria, creating a text that is less literal but sounds more natural.

As a product of this balance between keeping the client happy and respecting linguistic rules, Spanglish has emerged on the translation market as a linguistic invention situated halfway between English and Spanish. While it has proven to be very useful for clients, reading Spanglish, however, becomes a nightmare for Spanish-speakers who try to conserve the beauty of such a rich romance language as is the Spanish language.