The Spanish were living in the United States before the English began to colonize North America. That s right. Ponce de Leon (seriously I wish I could find his fountain of youth), Hernando De Soto and Francisco Vazquez de Coronado came to Florida. In fact, the Spanish had already built a fort before 1565. After a while, the Spanish gave up on Florida and began to focus their efforts on the other side of the North American continent.
The real presence of the Spanish was felt in the western part of the United States. In 1519 the Spanish conquered the Aztec Empire. The states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were originally part of the Spaniards claimed land. As time passed, more and more Anglo Americans paraded through these states and eventually claimed this land for the United States.

Mexico was not very happy about this since they considered Texas and New Mexico to be part of their country. Eventually this led to the Mexican-American War that the U.S. won. The Americans weren t happy with just getting these states. They also wanted California. They were able to march into California and erect their flags without any initial resistance. When push came to shove however, there was some bloodshed. Finally, as we all know, California came to be part of the United States.

The people who lived in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas began to be referred to as Chicanos. This is because many of them went to work in the city of Chicago and the name stuck. Today anyone whose family is from the western U.S., and is of Hispanic descent is referred to as a Chicano.

The people who spoke Spanish continued to live on their lands. However, many of them lost their lands in court in front of judges that didn t speak Spanish. In addition, up until the 1950s many of the children living in Chicago went to local Spanish public schools.

As the Spanish of countries like Mexico changed, due to the fact that they continued to speak the same Spanish their ancestors spoke, the language was transformed. These transformations lead to some very interesting vocabulary words that you will not find in your Spanish classrooms today. Here are some examples of the words that were used in the 15th century Spanish and are still used by the U.S. native Spanish speakers:

  • Truje instead of the currently used traje that means suit in English.
  • Haiga for haya which is a form of haber, that means to have in English.
  • Minjurne for mezcla that means mixture in English.

Another interesting word is pocho, which is the word Mexicans use to refer to Chicanos.

As you can see, Spanish isn t necessarily a foreign language. It belongs in the U.S. as much as English does. Learn more about the Spanish language by checking out our top rated online Spanish programs and learn to speak it with our homegrown Chicanos.

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