I have recently moved to the beautiful city of Boynton Beach, Florida, where the school districts are excellent and the skies are always blue. I have always thought of South Florida as the melting pot of Latin culture in the United States. 21 Latin American countries meet in Florida to share and exchange the multiple benefits of this business-friendly, financially favorable market in both English and Spanish.
As a Translation Company owner, I saw an opportunity to establish in a place where Companies come from all over the globe to do business in a location where the quality of life is enhanced by the good-natured weather of the Caribbean tropic, while the business climate is arranged to set up your corporation quickly and effortlessly, its location and infrastructure sponsor easy trade, and its workforce is as diverse as it gets.
I believed that all these conditions would create the perfect setting for a translation and interpretation company, due to the multiple documents required to be translated not only by the companies moving into Florida, but by the institutions (both public and private) that hold their business here, such as hospitals and medical centers, law firms, hotels, and schools, which communicate their own operational documentation in different languages.
Little did I know that the extremely high volume of documents required to be translated, was so much higher than the offer for good quality translation, and that the amazing diversity in the slang, dialects and jargon used in Spanish in South Florida, had completely massacred the language, and everyone seemed to be ok with it.
When I take my children to a dentist appointment or the eye doctor, and I receive an informed consent (or any other document to review) in Spanish, I feel that there is no justice to a language that has gender differentiation and two different words for the verb “to be” depending on whether the description is temporary or permanent.
When I listen to the Caribbean and Latin American people at the airport struggle with the same language that brought them up, while instructing non-English speakers on where to go or how to proceed, I want to let them know that their Spanglish sounds disrespectful to the people that they are trying to help.
It is understandable that every country has its own culture and therefore, develops its own colloquialisms, and that is part of the magic of communication in Spanish, especially throughout Latin America, where we make fun of simple words from country to country, because they have different meanings as you cross their borders. What I find unacceptable is that while Spanish is native to many of us, we tend to forget, despise, and destroy it with our Anglicisms and non-existing translations. This results in a communication process that is not just sloppy, but that attacks the language structure to its core.
Language is not just our main communication tool, and Spanish is not just the most widely spoken language world-wide, after Chinese. Language is a colonization and acculturation weapon. A society adapts to a culture through the adoption of its language.
There is plenty of discussion lately on the risk of Latinos invading the American way. I would say with certainty that, by the way the language has degenerated in Florida, and probably in Texas and California too, the process that some fear so much is completely opposite to their fears. With certain level of security in my affirmation, I can state that the English language is taking over the Spanish language in such a cruel and aggressive way, that it could be called a butchery.
The massacre is more evident when you hear phrases such as “vacumando la carpeta” which is the language assassins version of “vacuuming the carpet” while meaning to say “aspirando la alfombra”. This heard in a hotel hallway from Martha and Lupe, is no less than a linguistic crime. Other expressions such as “transportación” as a translation of “Transportation” while meaning “Transporte” are almost ok, but they sound so painfully wrong, that they slowly bleed the language out of it etymological right. This carnage is not only heard of in everyday conversation, but also read throughout publications, papers, documents and all kinds of written material throughout the State of Florida.