So you think you know your languages?

After yet another day of US Election news destabilising my tranquility, I purposely go down a completely different path today…

Linguist snob mode activated: I was sent a questionnaire designed for people who speak more than one language and I had a blast filling it out. Of course, in the comments sections I had to complain in the end that it was primarily designed for bilinguals, and not polyglots like me, and hence the validity of the results will not reflect the true spectrum. It did not cover, for example all those in the Third Culture Kid (TCK) movement, either people raised in it or parents raising children in it.

When I was growing up in Mexico, Spanglish (Spanish + English) was at the heart of linguistic controversy, with the purists campaigning for the preservation of each language as a whole, and the modernists encouraging the development of a whole new language. Decades later I encountered the exact same debate here in Germany for Denglish (German + English), by which time I had already chosen sides, deciding that as a translator (literary translator at that!), I had no choice but to be a purist. So Denglish was and continues to be forbidden in my house, much to the amusement of my daughter who dabbles in Denglish with her friends. German is the language of philosophers and poets, and has no business being demonised and bastardised by other languages for commercialism, globalisation or entertainment purposes.

In the same manner, it drove me nuts to hear and speak Taglish all the time (Tagalog + English), but sometimes the cultural setting is such that if you use only one you will be deemed a snob. Well, guess what folks, linguistically, unequivocally, I am.

In this day and age of international cooperation, multilingual learning environment and culturally mixed families, a plethora of new linguistic cocktails have emerged, some of which I had never heard of and quite frankly, the name alone is hilarious:

  1. Ponglish – polish + english
  2. Portuñol – Portuguese + spanish
  3. Franglais – French + English
  4. Russenorsk – Russian + Norwegian
  5. Belgranodeutsch (not to be confused with Alemañol) – specific to the German immigrants in Belgrano, Argentina), also known as Lagunen in Chile – German + Spanish (regional)
  6. Alemañol – German + Spanish (the more general combination worldwide)
  7. Hunglish – Hungarian + English
  8. Czenlish – Czech + English
  9. Catanyol – Catalan + Castillian Spanish
  10. Swenglist – Swedish + English
  11. Husákovština – Czech + Slovak
  12. Itanglese – Italian + English
  13. Konglish – Korean + English
  14. Anglo-Romani – English + Romanian
  15. Hinglish – Hindi + English
  16. Scymraeg (also known as Wenglish) – Welsh + English
  17. Chiñol – Chinese + Spanish

The dynamics of code switching for bilinguals or polyglots is intricate, which I will not get into here. Needless to say, these hybrid languages, also referred to as interlanguages, are emerging as acceptable working platforms, particularly in the digital age. But as as any language school will tell you, at the very least get your mother tongue(s) straight before you indulge in the hybrids!

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