Pew Survey Unveils Shaming of Spanish-language Skills Among U.S. Latinos 

Pew Survey Unveils Shaming of Spanish-language Skills Among U.S. Latinos 

Culture and language are a symphony that plays a vital role in shaping one’s identity. However, for many Latinos in the United States, this linguistic heritage comes with many complexities. 

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center resonates with the complexities of the Latino experience, highlighting how language proficiency becomes a battleground for cultural authenticity. Among U.S. Latinos, approximately 75 percent claim a reasonable fluency in Spanish. Yet, the survey unveils a startling reality: nearly half of those with limited Spanish proficiency faced ridicule or mockery from friends or family.  

The scrutiny is most pronounced among younger Latinos, aged 18 to 29, who often find themselves the subject of jokes or comments regarding their language limitations, an experience more pronounced than in other age groups. This phenomenon has caused some people to categorize those who can’t speak can’t speak Spanish as “no sabo kids” — a derogatory phrase that shouldn’t be celebrated. 

The ramifications of this linguistic scrutiny run deeper than expected; it strikes at the core of identity, as Lourdes Torres, a professor at DePaul University, told USA Today. For those shamed for their language skills, it isn’t merely a critique of Spanish fluency — it’s a direct attack on their identity. 

The survey further showcases a concerning trend across generations. While three-quarters of all Latinos claim proficiency in Spanish, the numbers dwindle significantly across generations born in the U.S., with third-generation Latinos exhibiting markedly lower Spanish language skills. 

This erosion of language skills isn’t an isolated phenomenon. It’s a familiar pattern seen throughout history, where successive generations tend to assimilate, primarily adopting English as their primary language. Sadly, this trend of linguistic assimilation isn’t without its adversities, resonating with what linguists refer to as a “language cemetery” in the U.S. 

The Complexities Behind Spanish in the U.S.

But this linguistic erosion is also propelled by external pressures. Political climates, societal prejudices, and anti-immigrant sentiments contribute to this complex narrative, amplifying the pressure to conform to English as a primary language. 

The ramifications are far-reaching, extending beyond language proficiency. Generational language erosion not only fractures familial bonds but also fractures community ties, severing the lines of communication between generations and neighbors. 

Language plays a crucial role in our community — one that shouldn’t be silenced but celebrated. It’s our history. Of course, we mustn’t overlook our Indigenous ties. After all, our heritage is tied to our Indigenous language. Yet, as societal perspectives shift, embracing bilingualism not as a deficit but as a unique asset may pave the way for a more inclusive and culturally rich society.

For Image credit or remove please email for immediate removal -