Fronteras: Spanglish In Academia & The Revival of Alameda Theater | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: Spanglish In Academia & The Revival of Alameda Theater

Nov 16, 2018

The study of heritage Spanish is receiving more credit and recognition in the classroom. Meghann Peace and Emily Bernante, professors of Spanish at St. Mary’s University and St. Edward’s University, explain this recent phenomenon (00:18). And, a historic Mexican movie theater which was once a cultural cornerstone for the community is getting a second chance (13:57).


Emily Bernante, an assistant professor of Spanish at St. Edwards University in Austin, and Meghann Peace, an associate professor of Spanish at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

Code-Switching In The Classroom

It’s not uncommon for borderland natives to fuse two languages into one. Here in Texas, we often refer to this code-switching as “Spanglish.” While it might have been frowned upon by academics in the past, academia is now recognizing heritage Spanish as a valid, useful form of the language that offers speakers a unique cultural foundation that should be cultivated.

Social linguist Meghann Peace, associate professor of Spanish at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, studies the attitudes of heritage Spanish speakers about their language.

Emily Bernante, assistant professor of Spanish at St. Edward’s University in Austin, is also a social linguist, who studies how the use verbs by heritage Spanish speakers change over generations — and how they differ by gender.

Chicano scholar, Tomas Ybarra Frausto, speaks to the audience before leading a tour of the Alameda Theater
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

Alameda’s Revival

One of the last classic Mexican movie palaces in San Antonio still stands — but in disrepair. It was built in 1949, and for three decades played host not only to films, but variety shows known as “variedades” during Mexico’s golden age.

FRONTERAS EXTRAAlameda Theater: The Past & Future Of San Antonio's Mexican Movie Palace

Stars like Pedro Infante, Maria Félix, and Cantinflas would grace the stage. And unlike other nearby theaters, it offered desegregated seating. The Alameda Theatre was, and remains, a landmark of Hispanic culture in San Antonio.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1, and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.