Jun 20, 2023 - World

Gen Z Latinos embrace "Spanglish"

Data: The Latino Mosaic; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: The Latino Mosaic; Chart: Axios Visuals

About 20% of Gen Z Latinos in a new survey say they're most comfortable speaking Spanglish most of the time.

The big picture: Many Latinos in the U.S. are increasingly reclaiming aspects of their heritage, including speaking Spanish (or some version of it) or adding accent marks to their names. The shift comes after years of older generations being taught to assimilate.

  • Only 14% of millennials, 10% of Gen Xers and 5% of boomers said they were most comfortable speaking Spanglish most of the time, per the survey by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the marketing agency Chemistry Cultura.

What they're saying: Ilan Stavans, a professor at Amherst College and author of "Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language," tells Axios Latino via email that his college students are the best proof that younger Latinos are embracing "this lengua mestiza with gusto."

  • "Spanglish está más vivo que nunca," Stavans says.
  • Ramiro Cavazos, the chamber's president and CEO, says he found the shift toward Spanish and Spanglish striking, since as a baby boomer he learned to be proud but not boisterous about his heritage for fear of harassment.
  • "The younger population is more driven by their passion in life than perhaps my generation," he says of Latino's pride in their heritage.

Other findings from the survey of 1,400 Latinos include:

  • On average across the generations surveyed, 30% of respondents said they watch at least some Spanish TV or streaming content weekly.
  • 32% of respondents said they frequently listen to music that is either all in Spanish or a mix of both languages — coinciding with the  mainstream success of artists like Bad Bunny, Peso Pluma and Karol G.
  • Mike Valdes-Fauli, president of Chemistry Cultura, says that shows how much Latinos are "spreading the love, the cultura and everything we stand for, to the broader general population,"

Go deeper: Listen to the Axios Today podcast, where Niala Boodhoo and Marina Franco talk about the Spanglish revival.

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