Spanglish: the familiar sound of home

A mix of cultures, a splash of different languages and a pinch of laughter might just be enough to make you feel at home.

Sat around the dinner table, a rumble of conversation fills the room. As we pass the vegetables around and reach for another slice of bread it appears to be a normal family meal time. Yet if you lean in a little closer and pay attention to what is being said, you may well find you only understand half of it or you can’t quite grasp the meaning of that last sentence.

Spanglish has become such a normal part of life we no longer really realise we’re speaking it. It’s not until someone points it out that we notice that what was said makes little sense.

We’ve had many a laugh at our strange sayings. “Pásame el agua, please”, “Where’s the serving spoon for the guisantes?” But the funniest ones are the completely new words we make up from time to time.

This strange mixture of Spanish and English has become the familiar sound that probably best describes what home is, a tricky concept to define for one who has grown up between two cultures.

Whether chuckling at our inability to speak (any language) properly anymore or smiling at one of the latest adventures being told, family mealtimes are treasured moments.

Perhaps this is true for monolingual families also, as many cultures around the world  bond over food and good conversation. But in the unique linguistic environment that forms around our dining table, there is a feeling of belonging. One that is linked to Spanglish as much as family.

I have come to value this in-betweeness, this slightly odd blend of place and language and traditions. The crisscrossing of culture, people, food and laughter.

The unique circumstances that make up our lives play a vital part in defining who we are. They have an important role in the forming of identities, in discovering one’s place in the world.

Home is that place one feels most comfortable, the people who are most missed, the sense of fitting in. It’s not always a house, a city or a country. It can be all of those or none of them. It can take time to find, to define, to feel you have discovered what home means to you.

It may be unconventional, it may be ever-changing. For you it may be something else entirely. But lately, this is how I’d best describe  it. Joyously spoken Spanglish, the familiar sound of home.

How would you define home?

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