Posted: 9/02/98

A&M International Faculty Member Featured on Voice of America



Dr. Kathleen R. Pletsch de García, Assistant Professor of English and Spanish at Texas A&M International University, was interviewed on a recent worldwide broadcast of "Wordmaster Theater" on the Voice of America radio network.

Dr. Pletsch de García provided commentary on "Spanglish," a blend of Spanish and English used by many Spanish and bilingual speakers. She is a recognized expert on the subject.

Dr. Pletsch de García explained that although Spanglish may seem random, the structure is organized.

"It is a natural process that is rule-governed. It is logical, it is complex. . .You take the English word and then you add the Spanish morphology. So you have, for example, 'watchar,' to watch, 'choosear,' to choose, 'espelear,' to spell, 'signear,' to sign, and 'chanza' for chance," she explained.

She believes that while speakers should use standard language where it is appropriate, such as the classroom or business settings, the complex process of Spanglish is a linguistic skill, not a linguistic incompetence.

"There are many people who are of the opinion that you should just keep it pure Spanish or pure English, without mixing the two, but in reality, that is just not what happens, especially in a border community such as Laredo," she said.

Pletsch de García is currently completing a research project on language use and language attitudes in Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville. The project focuses on codeswitching, the practice of using two languages simultaneously or interchangeably.

Last year, she lent her expertise as a bilingual linguist to MCI Tecnoguía, a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive glossary of technology and computer-related terms in Spanish and English.

Pletsch de García holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies with an emphasis in Spanish from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and an M.A. in Spanish Linguistics and Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics with an emphasis in Second Language Acquisition, Phonology and Dialectology from Purdue University.

For more information on Pletsch de García's Voice of America interview, please call the University's Office of Public Affairs at 326-2180. Office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu