The fact that the number of Latinos in the United States is ballooning is an undeniable fact, but does that translate to an equal number of Spanish-speakers as well? Maybe not, according to a blog post from NPR.
The post, which honed in on a “cringe-worthy” appearance by Vin Diesel while giving out a music award at the Premios Billboard, shines a light on how many Latinos no longer speak or are fluent in their native language. A video of Vin Diesel shows him shouting out “forced” Spanish phrases, like “mi gente” and “mi pueblo”, during the ceremony.
“Watch enough of the programming produced in the U.S. by Telemundo or Univision and you will hear snippets of English spoken by guests who lack the vocabulary or knowledge of grammar to provide a complete answer in Spanish,” the report said.
An example of the turning tide are the two Twitter feeds for the Premios Billboard: one in Spanish and one in English. Despite airing on Telemundo, the English feed is an attempt to allow Latinos who do not speak the language to still be interested in Latin music and watch Spanish-language television.
The growing concern, however, is whether the generational trend will end up phasing out Spanish entirely in the United States. It could be hard to predict, since now many Latinos having children are not native Spanish speakers themselves.
According to University of California at Irvine Professor Rubén Rumbaut, language is lost over time. “The first adult generation of immigrants ended up speaking survival-level English with an accent. . . The second generation, they remain bilingual, albeit their proficiency faded over time. And finally, the third generation, grandchildren, grew up speaking English only, perhaps with a few quaint vestiges — muchas gracias.”
Despite the “arc of language loss”, a poll conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found 95 percent of Latinos believed “it is important for future generations of Hispanics in the U.S. to be able to speak Spanish.”
However, in the same survey, only 82 percent of Latino adults said they could hold a conversation in Spanish “very well” or “pretty well.”
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images via NPR)