What if not everyone uses an expression? What then?

What category do you put such words in? Register, foreignisms, slang, dialect, or what? I still hear people use “skosh” meaning a little bit from the Japanese “sukoshi no”, brought here by our occupation troops. I thought I was the only one still calling them zoris until I saw a sign on a basket in the grocery store of flip-flops/shower shoes handwritten as “Zoris half price”.

People say “sayonara” all the time and “hasta luego” or “hasta la vista”. A book I was reading on the history of English written in the 1950s offered “quesadilla” [spelled “quesetilla”] as a foreign word that had yet to be included in an English dictionary as taco enchilada, etc. had.

I know many will disagree with me, but anyone who knows a lick of linguistics regards any sort of committee to regulate language as a joke. For the handful of people who want to be “correct” all the time, it may be comforting, but the language is shifting under their very feet.

So if a lot of people use sinceramente to sign off a letter, you might want to see who they are and if you want to be like them. People I associate with use “cat” for a person but I don’t use that at work b/c no one I work with uses that term; they would regard it as slang, and dated slang at that.

Recently I heard Barack Obama say, “That’s the way I roll”. That’ll probably get that expression into the “acceptable” range for most Americans (and be fiercely resisted by a hardcore few).

There are expressions I don’t use, certain vocabulary items, b/c I find them corny and typical of people I don’t want to be like (I surely won’t mention any here for fear of offending someone). It’s not cant or jargon or even slang – it’s just expressions typical of a certain social group I don’t identify with and have a bit of antipathy toward for some reason or other. But their language is certainly “legitimate” as used in the post quoted below. I append first my response I sent to these:


NOTE that the posts are seen with most recent first. Full names and addresses have been omitted.


I will agree with you that language, as used by the native speakers,
is deserving of acceptance.

While Daniel was pointing out how the words /Sincerely/ and
/Sinceramente/ are not exact synonyms, I am curious to know when and
where, “prescriptivist from Madrid” have decided that it is not
“legitimate” to use the word /Sinceramente/ at the end of a
Spanish-written letter.

I’d like to note that there is an Academy of the Language in just
about every Spanish speaking country -including the USA- and they all
form the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua:
http://asale.org/ASALE/asale.html .

And I quote from their working policy:
“…una política lingüística que implica la colaboración de todas
ellas, en pie de igualdad y como ejercicio de una responsabilidad

And I quote again:
“Se consideran, pues, plenamente legítimos los diferentes usos de las
regiones lingüísticas, con la única condición de que estén
generalizados entre los hablantes cultos de su √°rea y no supongan una
ruptura del sistema en su conjunto, esto es, que ponga en peligro su

It is hardly “prescriptivist from Madrid” who are writing the
dictionary, grammar and spelling documents intended to guide the
appropriate use of the Spanish Language, preserving its unity and
embracing its diversity.

(I would then say that I find the use of the word “legitimate” here to
be a poor choice: I would argue that the use of language by less
educated native speakers is also “legitimate,” even if not the
preferred norm.)

She was responding to:

>”Sinceramente” if used in the closing of a letter to a friend or family member would be perfectly fine in Guatemala. You are certainly right that it is not a translation of “Sincerely” because you would not use it for a business letter. It is informal. You might say “Sinceramente, te despido, tu prima Claudia”. I know this is rejected by some speakers in other parts of the spanish-speaking world so I suppose you could argue that it’s an anglicism, there are a number of common borrowings from English to be found in Central American Spanish. But even it is, at what point does a borrowing become a legit part of the language, only when prescriptivists in Madrid say so? I would say that if educated native speakers in a speech community accept a usage, then it is a legitimate part of the language, at least in that speech community.

And he was responding to:

>> Just a quick pet peeve of mine. “Sinceramente” when closing a letter is a
>> literal translation from English. To a native speaker, it would sound awkward
>> unless they were used to English speakers talking like that. The correct
>> equivalent of “Sincerely” in this context is: “Atentamente”. (And I know some
>> students who grew up speaking Spanish at home in the U.S. might
>> use “Sinceramente”, but that’s because they were never formally educated in
>> a Spanish-speaking country and are transferring their English writing skills to
>> Spanish.) “Sincero” in Spanish does not mean affectionate, but the sense
>> of “sincere” in terms of telling the truth, being honest. Using “Sinceramente”
>> would be implying to your audience that you sometimes lie when writing letters
>> to people. (Got to love the Spanglish… 🙂 )

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