Teachers Act Up!

Thoughts on Teaching, Language, and Social Change from Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

What’s so funny about Spanglish?

A joke to ponder submitted by the incredible Connie Manguno:

How does milk introduce itself in Spanish?

Soy milk

Teachers and learners of Spanish spend a lot of time on “ser” (to be) vs. “estar” (also ‘to be’).

This is a playful way to introduce English speakers to “I am” using the “ser” verb form of “to be” for permanent conditions. In this case, the double entendre and joke is “Soy milk'” (I am milk)–this would be the introduction of a native bilingual, one who can interchangeable use codes of Spanish (I am) and English (milk). This is also of course a play on “soy milk” vs. oat milk, cow’s milk etc.

The joke is mildly incomplete in my opinion. The question should be “How does a non-dairy milk introduce itself in ….Spanish? Is it Spanish or is it something else? Does it matter? What makes this joke funny is the appearance of the code-switch. Only a reader/listener who understands a bit of Spanish conjugation can understand this joke so in a way it’s intended for an insider, bilingual audience. I like it. I laughed outloud. Is this joke funny to you? Do you think it conveys a positive or negative connotation? What’s so funny? ¡Pregúntale a tu mamá!

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