Page 43 - Latino Boom II

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P o r t r a i t o f L a t i n o U . S . A .
5 5
ences Millennials
, based on primary research conducted by Burke for
Univision Communications, Inc. and published by
Advertising Age
May 2012, Spanish is a social “glue” Hispanic millennials use to cement
their social relationships, with 74 percent of “high culturally connected”
Hispanic millennials saying “most of my friends can at least understand
some Spanish,” which was higher, in fact, than non-millennial Hispanics
at 63 percent.
A R E T H E R E S P AN I S H D I A L E C T S ?
By Roberto Ruiz, SVP Strategy & Insights,
Univision Communications Inc.
A question that many clients ask frequently is what is our point of view
on Spanish dialects, and specifically how to handle this issue in com-
municating with the U.S. Hispanic market. We all know that Hispanics
in the United States are a heterogeneous mix of people from Mexican,
Caribbean, and Central and South American origins. The issue arises
when someone points out that different countries use different “dia-
lects,” and asks whether an ad should be written in that specific dialect.
The idea of considering the Spanish spoken in Mexico as a “dialect” is
shocking to me, as it is equivalent to saying that American English is a
dialect. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a dialect is “a regional or
social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar,
or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard
literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists:
Cockney is a dialect of English.”
If we follow this definition it would be possible to have many dialects
of Spanish. However, the definition is vague in terms of how much vari-
ation is needed to qualify for the term. As Webster’s was of little help, I
contacted other experts. Mila Ramos-Santacruz, who holds a doctorate
in linguistics from Georgetown University, gave me some good advice.
She explains that the word “dialect” has political connotations because
it subordinates one language to another; hence, the term is seldom
used. Also, from a linguistic perspective, the Spanish language is an
absolute reference that nobody actually uses. What people use are local
variations of the language. Thus Mexican Spanish, Argentine Spanish,
etc., are all local variations of Spanish, as opposed to dialects of it. For