A linguistic analysis of Spanglish

relating language to identity


  • Jason Rothman University of Iowa
  • Amy Beth Rell San Jose State University




spanglish, latino, immigration, ethnic minority, language contact


According to the 2000 census, 35.3 million Hispanics live in the United States. This number comprises 12.5% of the overall population rendering the Latino community the largest minority in the United States. The Mexican community is not only the largest Hispanic group but also the fastest growing: from 1990 to 2000, the Mexican population grew 52.9% increasing from 13.5 million to 20.6 million (U.S. Department of Commerce News, 2001). The influx of Mexican immigrants coupled with the expansion of their community within the United States has created an unparalleled situation of language contact. Language is synonymous with identity (cf. Granger, 2004, and works cited within). To the extent that this is true, Spanish is synonymous with being Mexican and by extension, Chicano. With the advent of amnesty programs such as Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which naturalized millions of Mexican migrants, what was once a temporal migratory population has become increasingly permanent (Durand et al., 1999). In an effort to conserve Mexican traditions and identity, the struggle to preserve the mother tongue while at the same time acculturate to mainstream Americana has resulted in a variant of Spanglish that has received little attention. This paper will examine the variant of Spanglish seen in the greater Los Angeles area and liken it to the bi-national identity under which these Mexican Americans thrive.

Author Biographies

Jason Rothman, University of Iowa

Assistant Professor, The University of Iowa, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, 111 Phillips Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242 USA

Amy Beth Rell, San Jose State University

Assistant Professor, The University of Iowa, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, 111 Phillips Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242 USA


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How to Cite

Rothman, J., & Rell, A. B. (2007). A linguistic analysis of Spanglish: relating language to identity. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 1(3), 515–536. https://doi.org/10.1558/lhs.2005.1.3.515