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English Leads to Identity Crisis in Venezuela

Coromoto Michelangeli from Venezuela

 

Coromoto Michelangeli
Photo: Rubén Vargas
Spanish has been suffering very fast changes. The Spanish in my country hasn't escaped the rampant advance of English in our daily lives.

Around Latin America, our common language—Spanish—has been suffering very fast changes. The Spanish in Venezuela hasn't escaped the rampant advance of English in our daily lives. Dialogues like the following are very common:

- Bueno, my darling, nos vemos en el baby shower de Rita.

- Okay, see you later.

This process can be explained, at least in part, by the excessive influence of the "Americanization" of advertisements, movies, TV series, and other mass media such as the press. Each of these means has a major and distinctive influence on the increasing presence of English in our daily lives. TV series like Baywatch and E.R. are seen everyday in my country and are very successful.

The incorporation of some new English words into our language, particularly those related to the context of technological innovations and scientific advances or items related to the culture of another country, is not only desirable but necessary. For instance, there is no Spanish word for hardware, software, baseball or Halloween. However, there is no justification though for using an English word such as password instead of its corresponding Spanish term contraseña.

On the other hand, the excessive use of anglicisms in Venezuela is leading to a pervasive use of English words and phrases without the users knowing their proper meaning, which in turn could lead to a loss of our native language, and eventually it might even result in a loss of our own identity as a country. And, as it is often said; "a nation without an identity doesn't exist!" Therefore, a fine balance between the need for maintaining the "elasticity" of the language while preserving its essential components is required.

The natural evolution of languages suggests that instead of being defensive, we have to develop strategies to cope with the undesirable consequences of this process. One of these strategies could be the control of the media so that abusive and unnecessary use of English words are not presented to the public via mass media. Also, the use of the appropriate words in Spanish, instead of their English counterparts, has to be encouraged.

"Keeping your language open while preserving its own richness" must be the motto that guides a healthy growth of our Spanish language.


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