The AP Stylebook is more or less the media industry’s bible, providing guidance and standards for grammar, punctuation & reporting practices. Every year I look forward to seeing what new words and phrases will get added when the stylebook is updated, as a sort of lexical zeitgeist meter – for example, recent additions include terms like “text messaging”, “social networking” and “high-definition,” because technology amirite?
Sorry. Not everyone can be cool guys.
In news that is thrilling to perhaps only me, the AP has announced that they are now launching a Spanish stylebook for use throughout Latin America, with the goal of unifying language standards across all Spanish-speaking countries. While this is a cool enough project in and of itself, the most interesting part by far is the amount of Spanglish terms that have made it into the guide. As a half-Peruvian, half-American who grew up bilingually in the U.S., I’ve always been fascinated by the interplay between Spanish and English, and the ways language can affect our ability to conceptualize things.
There is a strange “in-betweenness” you inhabit when you are bilingual, not able to fully articulate the scope of your experience in either language alone. An anecdote that comes to mind is the frustration I felt at 19 while living in Buenos Aires and realizing for the first time that there is no word in Spanish for “awkward”- a concept that was dominant in much U.S. humor at the time. Sure, you can say “incómodo” or “torpe,” but the literal translation of those words is “uncomfortable” and “clumsy” – neither of which accurately capture the true essence of awkwardness.
After 15 years of bilingual school I spoke near perfect Spanish, yet in Argentina my jokes didn’t quite land. Word play was a challenge. I knew almost no slang. In the U.S., by contrast, there are often times when Spanish expressions are the first things to spring to my lips. “No jodas!” I recently told a friend, only to get a blank look (she didn’t speak Spanish). Text messages and g-chats with other bilingual friends are often peppered with English words adapted to Spanish phonology, i.e. “jappy” (happy), “tenkiu” (thank you), “guateber” (whatever).
The collision of cultures and words that Spanglish represents is a world that more and more Hispanics are navigating – indeed, one that many here at Remezcla navigate – and the AP’s Spanish Stylebook provides a fascinating window into it. A few Spanglish highlights that made it into the book below:
1. “Parquear” to describe parking (“estacionar” is the proper word).
2. “Nocaut” to describe a boxing “knockout”.
3. “Cederron” for CD-ROM.
4. “Tuitear” to mean tweeting.
5. “Faxear” to mean faxing.
For now, the Stylebook (Manual de Estilo Online de la AP), is only being offered to clients of the AP’s Spanish news service, but it will be available for others early next year. The cost will be $26 for an individual annual subscription and $210 a year for a license for up to 10 users.
Who wants to split a license with me? Any takers send me a DM.