Language Does Not Equal Culture

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September 19, 2012 by emagallanes1

Being a Latino isn’t always about speaking fluent Spanish. Latinos don’t only identify themselves with Spanish, but also with the delicious foods and wonderful music that come along with the culture. Therefore, you cannot mark someone as “less Latino/a”, just because they are not fluent in Spanish. After all, they do embody all the other wonderful characteristics of a Latino.

During the summer of 2009 when I went to California, it surprised me that not many Chicanos knew how to speak Spanish. At the time, I thought that they were somewhat of a disgrace to our culture. However, you cannot always blame them for not knowing Spanish. For example, maybe they didn’t grow up in a household where Spanish was the primary language spoken and therefore cannot be blamed. In my opinion, all Latinos/as should be exposed to Spanish in their households as children. I also believe that all Latin people should be able to speak at least some Spanish, even if it’s “broken”. Not speaking Spanish at all and speaking some Spanish are two totally different things. Even though the Spanish language isn’t the only component that makes up the Latino culture, it is very important part of the culture itself.

I must admit, that I still cannot roll my “Rs” like most Spanish-speaking people can. But, that doesn’t prevent me from speaking the language! Nor does it make me less Latina. What makes me Latina are cultural practices and my family history and their roots, like many other Latinos in the United States.  We cannot deteriorate somebody’s culture because they are not fluent in the language. Take for example Americans, tons of them use slang and don’t speak English properly but yet, the media doesn’t say that they are “less American”, does it?

The bottom line is that we cannot judge somebody’s authenticity by how fluent they are in Spanish since Spanish isn’t the only thing that makes us Latinos/as!


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