My good Friend Annabelle organized a month long series on her blog The PiriPiri Lexicon called “A-Z, Raising Multilingual Children”. I chose the letter O because it’s one of my favorite letters and I bring you my post called “Oh my, what kind of Spanglish is this?”

Mixing it Up

My kids and I speak Spanglish, with some other words mixed in that we have picked up along the way in Asia. I call our language Asian Spanglish. My youngest one prefers English over Spanish and I’m pretty sure that’s because the only people that speak Spanish to her are her dad and me. When she is with her brother they switch back and forth endlessly usually speaking a good ole Spanglish mix with some Thai words and even Indonesian words thrown in for good measure.

There are lots of instances I remember when they mix the words from both languages and sometimes change them to suit the verb tense. I am always reminded of one time when my first daughter was a tiny baby and we were living with a British family in the Peruvian Andes. We were having lunch at their long kitchen table and someone came to call for the mum. She answered matter of factly; “Tell them we are almorzaring and to come back later”.

That little sentence struck me as the reality of the way her kids were living, speaking Andean Spanglish; which is quite different to my kids Asian Spanglish. Her kids grew up with a mix of British and Australian English and Andean Spanish mixed with Quechua. Her kids have amazing accents when they speak Spanish! My kids, specially the little one speaks a kind of English that I can’t fully place, it’s so neutral and mixed at the same time.

The way she says “mommy” at the end of a sentence for example is extremely British sounding, but when she’s just waking up she calls “mamaaaa” in a more Latino tone. My son’s English has a distinctive South American twang which I love hearing. He is so good at switching back and forth.

Switching Back and Forth

Just now coming back home from the Supermarket my daughter said “You won the ascensor maawwwmieee” because I arrived at the elevator first. When the kids want to drink coconut water it really depends where we are; In Thailand they will say “mamá quiero nam mah phrao” or “agua de coconut”. Here in Sri Lanka it’s “quiero un thambili mamá!” or me asking them “Do you want thambili”?

Every time we talk we are switching back and forth and mixing words around to suit the moment. May daughter can’t roll her r’s so she’s specially funny when trying to speak big words in Spanish like ferrocarril and carro rojo.

I wonder what other Spanglish mixes they will have as we keep moving around the world and collecting new words. I’m sure it will be entertaining at least. The fact that my daughter has a Peruvian passport but has never been to Peru (yet) reminds me of how I have an Italian passport but can’t even speak Italian.

What language mixes do you have at home? Had you ever though of different dialects of mixed languages like “Andean Spanglish” and “Asian Spanglish”. I made those up, you are welcome to use them.

Hi! I’m Orana, an artist of many trades and creator of the Crazy Little Family Adventure Blog.
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