In Miami, you often hear very strange English. Here are some examples:
· “Put me the light” instead of “Turn on the light” (This comes from the literal Spanish translation of “Ponme la luz”.)
· “I’m going to get down from the car” instead of “I’m going to get out of the car” (This comes from the literal Spanish translation of ‘me voy a bajar del carro.’)
· “Martha recommended me this movie” Instead of “Martha recommended this movie to me. (The Spanish literal translation:“Martha me recomendó esta película.”)
· “He invited me to a beer” instead of “He treated or offered me a beer” (Spanish literal translation - “Me invitó a tomar una cerveza.”.)
All of these are called Calques. A multilingual city like Miami is rich with ‘Spanglish’. We’ve all heard of Spanglish, but who has heard of calques? A calque is a word-for-word translation from one language to another (that is not always correct.) When you take a phrase in Spanish or any other language and translate each word literally into English, that's a calque.
This phenomenon is common in Miami. The population in Miami is predominantly Spanish speaking with backgrounds from countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and more. Miami is different from other places in the U.S. that are Spanish speaking communities. Miami is changing the way we speak English instead of the other way around. Calques in Miami may be so subtle that Miami-born residents are unaware of these patterns. This also happens in translation from other languages.
Can you think of other examples? This is one of the many reasons an English native speaker raised and born in Miami may be asked at one time or another when traveling outside of Miami: “Where are you from? You have a slight accent.”