Hispanics influence new English dialect in Miami

Linguists at FIU say that the coexistence of the Spanish and English languages has led to the appearance of new expressions that are only heard in the Floridian city.

The United States has more than 62 million Hispanics. In Florida, no less than 26.7% of inhabitants are Latin American, according to data provided by Statista.

Therefore, it is not surprising that phenomena such as the one detected by Florida International University (FIU) occur. The educational institution revealed that Hispanics have been the driving force behind a new dialect of English in Miami. They did so on the basis of a study conducted by several linguists at the university, which assures that the coexistence of the Spanish and English languages has caused the appearance of new expressions that are only heard in the Floridian city.

These expressions are only heard in Miami, and there is an explanation for it. According to the study's author, FIU linguist Phillip Carter, this new dialect arises because Hispanics "copy" these expressions. In other words, they literally translate Spanish phrases into English, generating this new dialect, a very common practice in other languages:

There’s not a single language that doesn’t have words borrowed from another language. Borrowing is an inescapable reality of the world’s languages. When you have two languages spoken by most of the population, you’re going to have a lot of interesting language contact happening. This shows Miamians assess certain phrases differently and don’t see some examples as “ungrammatical.” So, those are the ones that are passed down. This is how dialects are born. Minor things add up.

‘Get down from the car’ and ‘Meat empanada,’ some examples of Miami's new dialect

This reasoning would explain why expressions such as "get down from the car" are common in Miami. A direct translation of the Spanish phrase "bájese del carro" and not understood in other areas of the United States where the phrase "get out of the car" is used.

The same goes for "meat empanada." In Miami, this expression would be the correct one to refer to a beef empanada, while in the rest of the nation the most commonly used expression would be "beef empanada." In this case, the study explains, the expression "meat empanada" to refer to this food would be the most correct because, depending on the context in which it is used in the Spanish language, the word "meat" can refer to all meats (including chicken and pork) or specifically only to beef.

But the expressions not only demonstrate the existence of a new dialect in Miami. They also serve to exemplify what Phillip Carter wanted to prove from the beginning of his study: that there are no “real” or “simulated” words, it all depends on the context in which they are used:

When we conduct research like this, it’s a reminder there aren’t ‘real’ words or ‘pretend’ words. There are only words. And all the words come from somewhere and someplace. Every word has a history. That goes for all words spoken in Miami.