Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language

Ilan Stavans, Author Rayo $24.95 (274p) ISBN 978-0-06-008775-3
With this vivid socio-linguistic study and dictionary, Stavans brings Spanglish out of el barrio and into the academy, where he has been""livin' la jerga loca"" since he first taught a much-hyped course called""The Sounds of Spanglish"" in the late '90s. Professor of Latin American and Latino culture at Amherst College, Stavans has made it his project to codify, analyze and celebrate the slang he defines as the""encounter between cultures that is also a record of abundant past transactions."" The result is this pan-Hispanic reference work, which includes a lively introduction and a lexicon of 4,500 words. In his introduction, Stavans, a Jewish Mexican immigrant, details how he fell in love with the rich, complex language. He compares Spanglish to jazz, Ebonics and Yiddish, peppering his analysis with anecdotes and slang as he considers the jargon's significance in terms of class and Latino identity. Stavans's introductory essay examines the historical context of Spanglish, tracing it to the U.S. annexation of Mexican territories in the early to mid-19th century. (The essay also offers a brief history of Spanish in the New World and of Spanish-language lexicography.) As for the debate over this evolving language (critics say it indicates a""broken frame of mind,"" hinders successful assimilation, and desecrates a noble language, while celebrants view Spanglish as""a positive manifestation of the Hispanic spirit"") Stavans emphatically lands in the latter camp. From abajar (to descend) to zumear (to zoom), the entries in the dictionary include pronunciation, part of speech, gender, translation, Spanish or English root, and the occasional illustrative sentence. Stavans also includes his controversial Spanglish translation of the first chapter of Don Quixote. This volume should prompt spirited discussion among students of linguistics and Latin American studies.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 144 pages - 978-0-313-34804-4
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-0-06-008776-0
Prebound-Glued - 274 pages - 978-1-4176-3549-8
Ebook - 155 pages - 978-0-313-34805-1
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