Spanglish and Tex-Mex in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

Itxaso Rodríguez-Ordóñez , Shannon McCrocklin & Alejandra Tiburcio
Spanish in Context, 2023-05-23


The social meaning of language is embedded in a cultural system of ideas that circulates throughout the historicity of peoples in contact. Border areas are useful for studying the permeability of category constructions, including language boundaries and fluidity of identities. The present study reports survey data from 168 Spanish-English bilinguals in the border region of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas in the ways they define ‘Spanglish’ vis-à-vis ‘Tex-Mex’ as two distinct ways of speaking. In explaining the contact forms that each label represents and ideologies that have given rise to this distinction, results are discussed using iconization and fractal recursivity (Irvine and Gal 2000) and enregisterment (Agha 2005). Overall, results indicate that for those who make a distinction between Spanglish and Tex-Mex, Spanglish is valorized as more legitimate, whereas Tex-Mex is seen as a localized style of Spanglish also considered more informal.
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