Effects of Enculturation\Acculturation on Mexican Americans

8 August 2016

Every culture has its own specific characteristics to help differentiate itself from all of the other cultures. They all are composed of the same categories such as foods, traditions, values, holidays, language and many more. All of these things play their own specific roles to help create the big picture; they help define the culture. If some of the traditions, like language, from another culture were to be adopted into the current culture, it would enrich it rather than deprive the culture of meaning.

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Language is only one of the many aspects that help define a culture so, if another language is used, then the culture will still survive without losing meaning. The adoption of a new language into a culture will not always have an effect that makes the culture lose meaning in values or traditions. (Semantic cohesion with next sentence) Rather, it could have an acculturation effect. Acculturation is when one culture mixes itself with another culture that is dominant in the current location and inherits values and traditions to form a bigger, more enriched culture.

This is greatly shown in the blending of the American language and culture with the Mexican culture. By adopting the English language into the life style of Mexican Americans, the Hispanic culture has experienced a huge acculturation affect. This effect of aggregation to the culture can be shown in Mexican traditions such as birthday parties, acting, and quinceaneras. A birthday party is a tradition that is celebrated differently in various cultures. Traditions are everywhere in the Mexican American culture, especially in the way that Mexican Americans celebrate their birthday parties.

The Mexican American way of celebrating birthdays has experienced an acculturation effect since the adoption of the English language, rather than a loss in tradition or meaning. This is shown not only because we sing and perform the usual Mexican traditions such as las Mananitas, pinatas’ and tamales, but also when we sing the “happy birthday” song right before or after las Mananitas. Hot dogs or pizzas have also been an addition to our party-related celebrations. Another addition into the Mexican American culture has been the integration of Spanglish into the acting careers. Spanglish is the combination of the Spanish language and English language when speaking or writing. This is seen in the Hecho in Tejas book in the story “Casa Sanchez” by Tony Diaz. The father was “… an actor in carpas, tent shows performed in Spanish and Spanglish. ”(Gilb 384) The use of Spanglish has been an addition into the Mexican American culture that slowly steps in and before we know it, we are using it unconsciously.

Spanglish is usually used when we want to describe or define something but the English word performs a better job than the Spanish word, depending on the way it is phrased; or vice-versa. This has enabled the English and Spanish speaking Mexicans to better communicate with their children that have adopted the English language as their primary language, and Spanish as the secondary. The adoption of English language as primary and Spanish as secondary has intensified as time goes by. Although the new generations are more English based, the Mexican traditions still follow unconditionally.

Quinceaneras are one of the most practiced Mexican traditions. This is the time of transition in a girl’s life from childhood to womanhood. This fiesta is an ever-changing tradition that varies greatly from place to place. According to Norma E. Cantu, a quinceanera is “a tradition that survives and in fact seems to be flourishing even as it constantly changes. ”(La Quinceanera) Specifically, she tell us how she “danced with her father to a Whitney Houston song, I’ll Always Love You, [with] tears streaming down her cheeks as she was overcome with emotion.

”(La quinceanera) Norma also mentions how “her presentation became a truly bilingual and bicultural event. ”(La quinceanera) This is a great example showing how the integration of American culture has enriched aspects and values of the Mexican American culture, whether they are celebrated in English or Spanish. The use of different languages in a culture has many different effects. In the case of the Mexican cultures adaptation of English, there was an acculturation effect.

This is seen in various Mexican American traditions such as the celebrations of their birthday parties and quinceaneras with the addition of English songs. Also how they carry out acting careers with the help of both the English and Spanish language; this helps create a better understanding and interaction to all Mexican American audiences. The adoption of the English language into the Mexican American culture has had an effect that enriches and further helps define traditions and values rather than depreciate them.

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