As an Englishman in Argentina, I have one strange problem sometimes – I’m not sure how to pronounce words of English origin. When I want to say to someone to meet me outside the parking, should I say it with an English accent or a Spanish accent? When I order a cheesecake should I say it in an anglophone way, and risk not being understood, or overly hispanicize it, against my nature?
Spanish is the second-most common mother tongue in the world, after Chinese, although there are more total English speakers (when you include those who speak English as a second language). Of course, as English is the dominant modern world language, it has left a mark on all other languages in some way. However, as Spanish is used in such a big part of the world, English has influenced it in different ways depending on the country or region. Here are some examples of English words that are used in Spanish today.
Checar / Chequear
There are many ways to say to check in Spanish, with slight differences, such as verificar, comprobar, and controlar, however, in some places, you may hear checar or chequear. Both of these words share their origin from the English to check. Checar is more common in Mexico and central America, and in South America chequear is more common. In Spain, neither are common.
Bar / Club / Pub
All of these English words have been popularised between Spanish speakers in the last few decades. There are some places which pronounce club and pub with the typical English pronunciation, however, some people will use the Spanish U sound. Similarly, today, a person who serves drinks is more commonly known by the English term barman than the Spanish cantinero or camarero, which are falling out of use.
For some reason, there are lots of clothes words that are taken directly from English. These include blazer, jersey and sueter. In some South American countries, instead of saying pantalones cortos you can say shorts as in English, and sometimes use the singular un short. The same can happen with jeans or un jean. The word panti refers to pantyhose (UK tights) and the word for tuxedo, esmoquin is taken from the archaic English term smoking jacket.
21st Century words
As we are entering a highly globalised, technological world, many English words have come into Spanish work-spaces and cyber-spaces. Staff may be commonly heard instead of the traditional personal, and CEO the acronym of Chief Executive Officer, is becoming more popular than other forms of jefe. Many freelance workers are choosing to work in places called co-workings. On the internet, of course, people talk about what is trending, and blogs like this one, write posts.
More and more
It seems like the future will only bring more English terms into Spanish. Every day as I walk the streets in Argentina, I see more examples, with people offering servicio de lunch, or catering, students studying marketing or business, cafes offering sandwiches, cupcakes or donas (donuts) and people with piercings to complete their look.
Perhaps if there were so much Chinese incorporated into Spanish, there would be more Spanish speakers studying Chinese too!
What examples have I missed out? Do you think that you put a lot of English into your mother tongue? When and why? Let us know below.