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Desert Diary
Culture/Two Lenguas


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There are many things peculiar to the border region of Mexico and the United States. One of the more obvious, of course, is the widespread occurrence of two languages. Although a few of us north of the border mutter that this is the United States and we should speak only English, most of us enjoy living in an area with two co-dominant languages. It doesn't phase us a bit to see Piedras or Mesa streets any more than it does to see Mills or Stanton. Our radios and TVs as easily pick up Spanish-language programs as English, and many people—native or introduced—switch easily back and forth between the two tongues. Even the border Spanglish widely spoken has its own character and life—mixtures, whether of language or people, have their own strength.

Of course, there's some undesired fallout, too. School children brought up in Spanish-speaking households have to work extra hard to succeed in English-taught classes. But what's perhaps the most annoying of all—those who are computer literate are blessed with receiving spam in two languages!
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest. rule

Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.