Onda Latina

The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

Nav: Home


CALO (Chicano Barrio Language)
Program #

History, Language
Linda Fregoso
Leticia Galindo, Mary Jane Espinosa
Feb 1, 1982

CALO (Chicano Barrio Language)

Linda Fregoso discusses Caló, the language of the Chicano barrios, and explores its history, usage and significance with Leticia Galindo, an anthropologist, and Mary Jane Espinoza, who grew up speaking the language. Fregoso explains that many people associate Caló, which is a mixture of standard Spanish, antiquated Spanish, and English, with criminals and pachucos. But Galindo’s research shows that the language is as varied as the people who speak it. She explains that researchers date the language back to the 1930s when it became part of barrio culture, where its use ascribed identity and membership.

She explains that although the Chicano movement helped revive and redeem the language, its speakers are still stigmatized. Many researchers perpetuate the idea that it is inferior, and many people, including some middle class Chicanos, associate Caló with drug abuse and poverty. Nonetheless, Galindo’s research among Chicanas show that many professional and middle class Chicanas speak Caló. She found that many of the women felt their education and status gave them the confidence to speak Caló. However, few speak it in the work place, reserving the language for use with in informal settings with friends and family.

Fregoso then speaks with Espinoza who explains that growing up her family spoke Caló and she gives examples of Caló words. Although her husband disapproves of her speaking Caló, she explains that it is an important part of who she is and she is teaching it to her children. Galindo then discusses the different situations her interview subjects believed it was appropriate to speak Caló.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

DIIA | © 2009 Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services