King Felipe calls on Spanish-speakers to promote their language in the US

Speech comes in wake of debate over Donald Trump’s remarks regarding immigrants

King Felipe VI during his speech in Miami.
King Felipe VI during his speech in Miami.JOE SKIPPER (REUTERS)

Spain’s King Felipe VI has called on Spanish-speakers to promote their language in the United States. Speaking in Miami – a city that is home to immigrants from nearly every country in the world, the majority of whom, however, are Hispanic – the monarch highlighted “the debate over the Spanish language and Hispanic identity that is happening within American society, from intellectual, political and social perspectives.”

Of late, the loudest voice in this debate has been the real estate magnate and 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whose broadsides constitute a crusade against immigration in general, and against Hispanic newcomers in particular. Among other comments, Trump has criticized his rival Jeb Bush, who is married to a Mexican woman, for speaking Spanish in public.

Spanish has never been just passing through the United States; it belongs to this land” King Felipe VI

But the Spanish king steered clear of this debate during his speech, delivered to students at Miami Dade College during his ongoing official visit to the US. But he was keen to share his vision of what Spanish has been, is, and should be in the United States. “We must speak of an American Spanish, with its own social and linguistic profile, because of history and current events, but above all so that it is in concert with the identity of a significant portion of the American population. Spanish has never been just passing through the United States; it belongs to this land,” the king said.

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The king underlined how the language has grown richer in the United States because of the diversity of the Hispanic community (Cubans, Mexicans, Venezuelans, etc.), and how it is adapting so that it will not be left behind. “This change means that the Hispanic minority is reaching the heart of American society and it is becoming more visible thanks to its level of education, its creative culture and its dominance in different sectors,” the king said.

King Felipe went on to say that there are dark clouds ahead, and that third- and fourth-generation Hispanics run the risk of not speaking Spanish at home because they feel English is more useful for managing everyday life.

“If Hispanic families were to stop speaking Spanish to their children and grandchildren, if schools put Spanish on the back burner, its survival will depend exclusively on the intensity and size of migratory movements, which would not guarantee its future as a language in American society,” King Felipe concluded.

English version by Dyane Jean Francois.

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