Analysis: Latin Culture as a major U.S. Economic Growth Driver
The Spanish language and the Latin culture are enormous assets for the U.S. economy. In this regard, the U.S. marketing, media and cultural industries, have a lot to contribute to the mid and long term growth of the U.S. economy. For this reason, the cover article of this issue is devoted to the role of language in marketing to the U.S. Hispanic population.
Below are some thoughts on the current and future role that the Spanish-language and the Latin culture will play in the U.S.:
Mother Tongue and Foreign Tongue
Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara…There are countless Spanish-derived names for U.S. cities and locations. In other words, Spanish has never been a foreign language in the U.S.
In fact, with the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty (1848) between the United States and Mexico, more than half of the former Mexican territory, home to millions of Spanish-speakers, was given to the United States: That is no less than all or part of the territory of the following states: Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico. And the number of Spanish-speakers has increased even more with the arrival of many millions of Mexicans and other Latin American immigrants. In the U.S., Spanish is both a mother tongue and a foreign language. That is what makes its role so important and interesting.
The Center of Gravity shifts toward the U.S.
As Eduardo Lago, a writer and former director of the Instituto Cervantes in New York says: “The Spanish language achieved its full potential when it crossed the Atlantic from Spain to the Americas and became the common language of 20 different Latin American states.” According to demographic forecasts, during this century the Hispanic population in the United States will get to be larger than the Spanish-speaking population in any other country of the world. (Currently Mexico holds the number one position with a Spanish-speaking population of 108 million.) In other words, during the next decades the center of gravity of the Spanish – language will shift northward to the U.S.
A homogenizing and strengthening effect
Another aspect that will strengthen the role of Spanish in the U.S. is that immigration has a homogenizing effect on the type of Spanish used in the U.S.
The Romance languages developed from Latin in the fifth to ninth centuries of the Christian calendar. The main Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Italian and French, but also Catalan, Galician, Sicilian and many others. In contrast to the way romance languages developed in Europe, where they grew out of the adaptation of Latin to very different and distant local cultures, different Latin American types of Spanish are now converging in a largely shared U.S. culture. The Spanish spoken in the U.S. will tend to be a mix of the different types of Spanish spoken in the immigrants’ home countries. It is likely that one type of Spanish, of course also integrating English words, will develop and prevail rather than many different types. It might be called a “pan Latin,” or more homogeneous variety of Spanish.
Spanish language and Latin culture
The above described demographic and linguistic trends will—and already are—making the United States a major promulgator of Latin culture (through media, entertainment, Language classes, etc), not only related to the Spanish-language but to Latin culture expressed in English. Tied with the enormous infrastructure of “cultural goods and services” existing in the U.S. (e.g. Film industry, Technological Infrastructure, Universities), the Spanish-language and Latin culture can make a major contribution to economic growth. Demand for “Latin Culture” is not only growing in the U.S. but also in fast growing Latin American countries and the Iberian Peninsula.
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