Most Latinos Don't Think Speaking Spanish is Essential to Latino Identity

Latinos Spanish Identity Study
Corbis

Last week, the two Latinos running for president duked it out in a heated exchange about their Spanish-language fluency.

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ICYMI: Sen. Marco Rubio snapped when Sen. Ted Cruz criticized an Univision interview where Rubio spoke in Spanish about his immigration policy. Rubio fiercely responded to the dig: "I don't know how [Cruz] knows what I said on Univision, because he doesn't speak Spanish."

Cruz then countered by shouting in rough Spanish at his opponent: "We can do this in Spanish, if you want."

Despite this very public altercation, most Latinos do not believe that speaking Spanish has a huge impact upon Latino identity. In fact, a new survey by Pew Research proves it. 

"Rubio's confrontation with Cruz, who recently became the first Hispanic to win the Iowa caucuses, was interpreted by some as a challenge to how much Cruz belongs to or identifies with the Hispanic community in the U.S.," Pew wrote. "On the one hand, Spanish is an important part of Latino culture and identity, with 95 percent of Latinos saying it is important for future generations to speak Spanish. At the same time, most Latino adults say it is not necessary to speak Spanish to be considered Latino." 

They found that 71 percent of Latinos say it is not necessary to speak Spanish to be considered Latino, and just 28 percent believe the opposite to be true. The responses varied by generation and immigration status, with 87 percent of those born in the United States answering that they did not believe speaking Spanish was a skill necessary to Latino identity. Just 58 percent of immigrants answered similarly. 

In accordance with these findings, more than a quarter of the Hispanics surveyed said they lived in a household where only English is spoken, up from 22 percent in 2006. 

PLUS: 10 Spanish Words That Don't Exist In English

Do you agree? Or do you think that speaking Spanish is an essential part of being Latino? Tell us in the comments!