Is Spanish a foreign language in the U.S.? The Oscars say it is
The 91st edition of the Academy Awards once again recognized the work of Mexican Director Alfonso Cuarón, this time for his magnificent film, "Roma.” However, one of the categories in which the movie was listed as a nominee could be up for debate.
Today, Mexico is considered one of the largest exporters of film directors.
Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón have swept with the Oscar awards for Best Director for the past six years – except in 2016 when Damien Chazelle took the statuette for La La Land - and have put Latin American talent at the forefront of an industry monopolized by the American Anglo-Saxon spirit.
This year, Cuarón was recognized for the second time as best director for Roma, a story set between 1970 and 1971, with autobiographical nuances of his childhood in the neighborhood of Colonia Roma in Mexico City.
The movie presents one of the most critical social realities in Latin America, in the character of Yalitza Aparicio (first indigenous actress to be nominated by the Academy) who personifies Cleodegaria "Cleo" Gutiérrez, a maid who lives between poverty and her job in a middle-class home.
In addition to the award for best direction, Rome won for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Film.
This is where it may be necessary to make an aside.
By 2017, there were an estimated 41 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., making Spanish the country's second most spoken language.
Since the 15th century, Spanish and English have intermixed and, with the incorporation of territories such as New Mexico, California, and Puerto Rico in the U.S., the distinction between both languages is becoming less and less evident.
To be more precise, there is no section in the Constitution that establishes an official language for the nation, nor has any federal law added one.
"People in this country have been speaking languages other than English since before the founding of the republic," explained Harmeet Kaur in an article for CNN. "In fact, common languages spoken throughout the 13 colonies included Dutch, French and German, not to mention the many languages spoken by Native Americans," she added.
Although the fact that English is the most spoken language in the country is a truism, the thought that Spanish could one day become so doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
In one way or another, the stories told by Del Toro, Cuarón and Iñárritu speak a language comprehensible in all corners of the planet.