by Cindy Tovar
It is my greatest hope that some day my future grandchildren will be gathered around me in the living room telling me “Despierta, abuela, ya es hora de comer!” instead of “Wake up, grandma, it’s time to eat!”
In my early years, Spanish was my primary language, but English replaced it as soon as I entered school. Now, I read, write and think only in English. Fortunately for me, my leftover Spanish allows me to pass for a bilingual person. If you speak to me in Spanish, I’ll understand you well enough, just don’t speak too fast, use slang, or tell a joke, or else you might get one of these looks from me:
As the generations pass, we will become more assimilated. What place will the Spanish language have in our own families?
The younger generation doesn’t seem to mind that they don’t know Spanish. My teenage nephew doesn’t really care that his Spanish isn’t good enough to be deemed a marketable skill. Several native Spanish-speaking children in my preschool refuse to speak Spanish in school now that they’ve learned English. Some even refuse to speak it at home, making communication with their parents/family impossible. Apparently, Spanish isn’t cool; it’s embarrassing, probably because it’s not the norm.
I fear for my children, whose Spanish will be more Spanglish, at best. I fear for my children’s children, whose ability to communicate with their family in Colombia will be practically non-existent. Even I already feel that I can’t develop strong, meaningful relationships with my distant cousins because I can’t express myself to them the way I would like.
If I want to say, “I’m excited”, I struggle to find the words that will best fit the description. Excitada? Maybe, but who says that? And even if I do eventually find the right word, the feeling I’m trying to describe will have been lost in translation, and it just wouldn’t be the same.
For me, the Spanish language is the link to our past. It unites us as a family and as a culture. As our families grow and change in this country, we can’t let go of the one thing that brings us together; the one thing that helps foster understanding, despite our differences: el español.
To learn more about Cindy, visit Dagny’s Dichotomy.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.