Week 2: Language and Identity


September 13, 2012 by ljimenez1

Read the following article and use the questions listed below to guide your post:


1. Do you think speaking Spanish defines being Latino? Why/why not?

2. How do you define being Latino?

3. How does one’s ability/ inability to speak Spanish influence his/her Latino/a identity?


4 thoughts on “Week 2: Language and Identity

  1. natha17 says:

    How much does language define your identity?
    As I look around in our community I can’t help but notice the high percentage of people who define themselves as Latinos and don’t speak Spanish. As I interact with these people I come to the conclusion that their love and desire for the Latino culture does not decrease any less due to their lack of understanding of the language. Being Latino is not defined by having the ability of speaking Spanish but by understanding and living the culture. Being Latino is something that you have in your blood, it’s in your heart and there are no material characteristics visible to the human eye that can fully define this. I have close friends who were brought to the US when they were very young and therefore don’t speak very fluent Spanish, but they still went to the troubles and struggles that one goes through to define his/her culture and identity. Being Latino is defined beyond a language, it’s in what you do and how you do it, it’s in the love for one’s culture, music, and diversity. Latinos are one the few if not only cultural group that is spread out in two different continents with cultures that vary completely starting with the way we speak to the way we eat, dress, and dance, this makes us truly special because it expands the ways in which we exhibit our culture and identity as Latinos overall. This makes not being able to speak Spanish very insignificant in a culture that is so rich in diversity. Having a basic understanding of our believes and basic values is enough to exhibit the strength of the Latino culture anywhere we go. In fact there are many from other cultural groups that identify themselves as Latinos due to their understanding of the culture, not necessarily the ability to speak the language.

  2. aalanis3 says:

    It has always caused some rage in me when I find people that identify themselves as Latino but do not speak one word of Spanish. Whenever I realized that actresses such as Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, and Zoe Saldana, don’t really speak the language despite their Latino roots and clearly Spanish names, I was flabbergasted. However, I tried not to judge them and as I got older, I realized it is not their fault that they don’t speak Spanish. I have learned to understand that they grew up with English only; therefore, they can’t be fluent in both languages as I am. Do they continue to be Latino role models and important figures for our community? Of course. Women and men who proudly identify themselves as Latino despite their language barrier are the ones who are most important in our population. They represent the modern era of Latinos in this nation. Of course, I love to hear famous media figures speaking fluent and confident Spanish because it reassures me that our language is not dying down. However, language is not the only determining factor in heritage. To me, the definition of being Latino is to be proud of your home country, being hard working, loving of your family and to remember your roots at all times. Just because a person was not raised to speak our language, it doesn’t mean they aren’t proud of where their ancestors come from. I believe that those Latinos who don’t speak Spanish have difficulty identifying themselves in either society. They are “too American” for those of us who do speak Spanish and “too Latino” for Americans. I can imagine that they feel lost, and that is not acceptable. Latinos must embrace this as a part of us, not as a problem. I hope that Spanish persists through generations to come, but the fact of the matter is that it is slowly deteriorating. As a community, we must work to keep our language alive and maintain the roots that make us one.

  3. eli308 says:

    In the technical term of being Latino, you don’t necessarily have to speak Spanish. That only defines a Hispanic. With this in mind, I don not believe that you must know how to speak Spanish in order to be considered to be part of the Latino community. What truly matters is the way that you integrate yourself in the Latino community. Speaking Spanish is an important part of he community, but it isn’t the most important thing as the culture and tradition in the community. Being a Latino is embracing the tradition and rituals that are associated with the Latino culture. It is feeling in your heart the call to demonstrate your true colors. It is the rush in your blood that you feel when you get the chance to promote your culture others. The ability to speak Spanish is a big part of the Latino identity, but doesn’t really define you as a Latino. The ability to speak Spanish just highlights the already strong sense of the culture itself, but doesn’t necessarily make it. Even without having the knowledge of the language, the influence in a Latino can come from where they originate and how the might have been raised. With this in mind, I believe that speak Spanish is a major part of being Latina but does not fully say that you may represent the community as one may think. By recognizing and reviving our interest in our future, we may be able to bring back the desire to learn how to speak Spanish again.

  4. gmayra says:

    Can someone speak Latino?

    Spanish is known to be our most common cultural language but when has it ever defined our culture? “It is not unusual for a Latino [person] to not speak Spanish.” Spanish is just another element in the chemistry of the Latino culture, but never has it been the foundation. Understanding and living the Latino culture is the basis of the definition for Latinos.
    For instance, my younger sister unfortunately developed broken Spanish and has trouble understanding and expressing herself to my parents and I; however; that does not make her any less Latina. She practices every other characteristic of our Latino culture and can feel it in the soul. The feeling of being Latino, the pride of living the culture, and the joy of understanding each carne asada, each piñata, each posada, each quinceñera, each Hispanic Heritage Month, makes her a Latina. Although she might never be able to portray you her Latino cultural background and mind set; she has within her blood, her heart, her soul, herself. She is Latina.
    Like my sister any other Latin- American, Mexican, Brazilian, Honduran, or Chilean, might not have learned or spoken Spanish but are Latinos. Quite frankly it is as if we Latinos were at a crossroad; too much Spanish is ghetto, no Spanish we are no longer Latinos? Again it does not matter what we speak. If we are Latinos at heart, then we make up the Latino culture. Speaking Spanish does not define Latino. If it would then Spanish people would be Latinos too? No, it is just another aspect to their culture like language is to ours. So fluent, broken, or no Spanish makes no difference. Being Latino is a privilege an every Latino is privileged and language will never take their culture away. In conclusion speaking Spanish will never define a Latino, so never must one say “your not Latino because you don’t speak Spanish.” That is just irrelevant.

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