A New Dialect Emerges in South Florida

posted by Jason Kottke Jun 15, 2023

According to recent research from linguists Phillip Carter and Kristen D'Alessandro Merii, a new dialect of English is forming in South Florida. The dialect, distinct from Spanglish, is spoken English that borrows lexical and semantic rules translated from Spanish. Carter writes:

For example, we found people to use expressions such as "get down from the car" instead of "get out of the car." This is based on the Spanish phrase "bajar del carro," which translates, for speakers outside of Miami, as "get out of the car." But "bajar" means "to get down," so it makes sense that many Miamians think of "exiting" a car in terms of "getting down" and not "getting out."

Locals often say "married with," as in "Alex got married with Jos'e," based on the Spanish "casarse con" โ€” literally translated as "married with." They'll also say "make a party," a literal translation of the Spanish "hacer una fiesta."

We also found "semantic calques," or loan translations of meaning. In Spanish, "carne," which translates as "meat," can refer to both all meat, or to beef, a specific kind of meat. We discovered local speakers saying "meat" to refer specifically to "beef" โ€” as in, "I'll have one meat empanada and two chicken empanadas."

I particularly liked this one:

We found that some expressions were used only among the immigrant generation โ€” for example, "throw a photo," from "tirar una foto," as a variation of "take a photo."