Is “Camioneta” Really More Correct Than “Troca”?

So the truth is, most of the Latinos I know who grew up in the U.S. speak English as their dominant language, either because their parents or grandparents spoke Spanish, or even because they wanted to learn the langage as adults and studied abroad in Spain college. The point is, English is their first language and their Spanish may not be, well, perfect. This certainly is the case for me.

What happens, then, is that Spanglish enters into their vocabulary to fill in the gaps. Of course, I consider Spanglish to be rather legitimate, given that cultures — whatever they may be — never stay “pure” for very long. Such is the case with Spanglish, which is the inevitable outcome of two cultures co-existing for so long.

So recently a friend of mine asked me the question: Why isn’t troca in the dictionary?

And I think it’s a legitimate question. Isn’t language a means to communicate our reality? And if our reality is that “troca” is a more recognizable term than “camioneta,” it would seem to follow that this word should be in the dictionary. But it’s not, and that’s kind of sad.

It seems like we put these unrealistic standards on ourselves, that there is some level of “purity” that can be achieved in language that will give us more authenticity or legitimacy, if only we could get there. But the truth is, we never will. It doesn’t matter how many years of Spanish you take, if you’re anything like me or my friends, your brain was hard-wired for English long ago. This, despite the fact that my brain has been re-wired for Spanglish in recent years.

It’s not like I have any power to rewrite the dictionary, or the authority to dictate what should be considered “proper” Spanish, but if it were up to me, troca would be in there. Along with some other neat Spanglish words, like parquear, sandwiche, chores, and the like.

I know there are a lot of people out there who would disagree with me, and what I would say to them is, let’s figure out a way to teach Latinos proper Spanish in the U.S. so that we can all understand the difference between Spanglish and Spanish. Until then, I’m going to continue to use these words as part of my cultural capital and am thus guaranteed to be more easily understood by people I meet on the street — provided we’re not talking the streets of Madrid, of course.

[Photo By dave_7]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED on massive scale to help reunite immigrant children with their families

Victor Landa July 9, 2018

This is an opportunity for experts on Latin America to get involved and lend their expertise. Please also share widely: URGENT HELP NEEDED ASAP!! Center for Human Rights and Constitutional […]

Is THIS the Year Latino Voters Finally Turn Arizona Blue?

Victor Landa July 17, 2018

PHOENIX — “Democrats hope demographic changes will translate into a win in November,” wrote The Nation magazine a while back. “Arizona, the second fastest-growing state … brimming with Latinos and Independents [is] […]

Appalachia has a booming Hispanic business and population — and its growing food scene is making an impact

Victor Landa August 1, 2018

From strip malls to historic downtown landmarks, buildings across Appalachia today are telling stories of a changing region. Former nail salons, once-stately banks and empty storefronts are beginning fresh chapters […]

US officials must now say “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented immigrants”

Victor Landa July 27, 2018

The US Department of Justice wants US attorneys offices to stop referring to undocumented immigrants, the term that media and immigrant advocates have increasingly used to refer to people who […]

Declining white population is spawning fears, bias

Victor Landa July 23, 2018

Over the last three decades, demographers have told us that there would come a day when the declining white population would become less than half of the U.S. population. The […]

Audiences are shrinking for Hispanic- and black-oriented U.S. news media

Victor Landa August 1, 2018

In a fact sheet released this week, Pew looks at how “news media made by and for the two largest racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States — blacks and Hispanics” […]

Today’s Latino News Headlines – August 7, 2018

Victor Landa August 7, 2018

Black Man Who Filmed Latino Workers Striking Is Fired from His Job, Regrets Nothing – The Root Remeber this guy with the running commentary from yesterday’s headlines? He recorded a group of Latino […]

Today’s Latino News Headlines – July 27, 2018

Victor Landa July 27, 2018

Census Bureau Stops Plans For 2020 Census Advisory Committee – NPR According to the letter provided by Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed […]