"In heaven, will God ask for papers?"

Monday, October 3, 2011


If I were to describe El Paso in one word, it might be "Spanglish." Everywhere I go, I hear a unique blend of Spanish and English. At work with the Middle Schoolers it happens all the time:

"Pero Miss, no tengo homework."
"Miss, can I have a boli?"
"Donde estan su shoes?"
"Miss, can I use your telefono?"
"Miss, puedo tener tu phone?"

Almost every conversation with the kids is an exchange of two languages, and I'm finding that even though all the youth know English, some choose not to use it or seem not very comfortable speaking English. So our conversations are a fun mix. :)

I can also see a mix of Mexico and Texas when bringing the youth home at the end of the day. One minute, I will be dropping off kids near Segundo Barrio, where all the shops and houses have signs in Spanish, and the neighborhood reminds me of my time in Central America and looks more like what I see when I look south of the border fence. But then a kid will need to be dropped off a few miles north of downtown, in a neighborhood that looks like a middle-class neighborhood in the Midwest, with generously sized houses, trees (but not much grass), wider roads with curbs, and not a word in Spanish.

But the mixture of language is just one aspect of the unique culture you can find here in El Paso. I have never been to any place like the Borderland--not only am I in a place where two nations share a border, but also where two languages dance, multiple cultures clash, many economic classes reside, and the river meets desert meets mountains.

Living and working in this unique border culture has been super fascinating for me. I'm sure I'll be sharing more about this in future posts. But for now, I look forward to continue learning a new language.

Local radio stations are perhaps the best source for a mix of language. The song "Tengo Tu Love" has been on quite a bit, and it is the perfect example of Spanglish...

          Yo tengo tu amor
           I got your love
           Yo tengo tu amor
            Yo tengo tu love.

If you're not a Spanish speaker, check out the video and see how many words you can recognize. :)

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, border Spanish. I can't remember the name of the radio station, but there's one that has a show called "el wake-up" in the morning. Hehe.