I guess you could say I’m proud of my blue collar/working class background. Of course, when I was a youth I often felt wretchedly disadvantaged, especially at that age when it becomes important to wear certain brand jeans and sneakers to be considered a worthwhile human being or a worthy suitor to the neighborhood’s prettiest girls.

Photo by schaaflicht

Photo by schaaflicht

But now that I’m a relatively mature adult, I am deeply grateful not only for the efforts made by my parents to support us but also for the lessons that my working class environment thought me.

Of course, this website is only partially about self-congratulating for how remarkable I am. My point here is that because of my background, I grew up speaking a certain brand of Spanish specific to my region and to my social environment. And I love it. I love it so much and it’s so much a part of me that I speak in that way to my son some times. To put it in perspective, imagine using an English sentence with your child along the lines of: “Ain’t no dang dog gonna bite you”.

So by now, you see my dilemma — Do I try to steer away from this form of Spanish so that my child learns instead a “proper”, “standard” (and perhaps more sterile) form and is therefore better able to communicate in Spanish with people from all regions of all Spanish-speaking countries? Or do I stay true to who I am and trust that what I’m teaching him is not so drastically slangy that it won’t be a detriment to his ability to communicate?

I have to admit this question comes as much from actual curiosity about the best thing for my child as it does from my own desire to reaffirm my “Colombianness” after years of not living in my native land. But I’m again letting my personal insecurities permeate this blog so I’ll save those for my upcoming “Poor Me” blog. Though it is worth admitting that part of why I proposed this topic of slang and regional variations of the tongue is because I want my children to fully embrace all aspects of their background (Colombian and American) and I feel like a part of that is learning to speak and understand the colloquial version of the language that they will inevitably hear from my family back home and from many of my friends here. So maybe as I write this I’m answering my own question–It seems like love, communication, and open discussion about what it means to be Colombian and what it means to be American (and what it means to be Colombian-American) is the best education I can give them and the rest can be figured out along the way and is not that big a deal.

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