Ever since the word “Espanglish” first appeared in print, on October 28, 1948, both the style of speaking that it refers to and, more recently, the label itself, have been mired in debates enmeshed in the language politics of the day, with critical implications for the reproduction or interruption of social inequality in Latina/o communities. Salvador Tió (1948), former president of the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language, published his definition fifty years after the U.S. occupation of Puerto Rico in 1898 imposed English as the language of instruction, amidst a debate about reinstating Spanish. Tió’s definition included notions that remain popular: that Spanglish is a new language consisting of parts of English and Spanish words, that it reflects confusion and ambivalence and represents a death knell for Spanish via English/U.S. imperialism: “This new language will be called ‘Espanglish.’… It is an ambivalent language. It is a real fusion. Bilingualism is a confusion. It is implanted with the goal of making us dominant in a language that hopes to dominate us” (Tió 1948; translation mine). These themes persist in definitions like Wikipedia’s—“Spanglish is informal due to the lack of structure and set rules”—and the Urban Dictionary’s—“Urban American language. Not...

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