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Say It In Spanglish: Greeting Cards Blend Two Languages Into One Message


June 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 THE MIAMI HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

It's enough to make dad say, ``Qué cute.''

In South Florida, where language -- like everything else -- often borrows from two cultures, greeting cards written in the Spanish-English hybrid known as Spanglish are often the best way to express a sentiment.

In a Pembroke Pines drugstore, Father's Day cards with themes ranging from the religious to the irreverent court the growing bilingual brood. One Hallmark card reads ``Feliz Día de los Padres (Happy Father's Day) to one tough hombre (man) . . . '' on the cover `` . . . who ain't afraid of a few besos y abrazos (hugs and kisses)'' on the inside.

The card ``mixes both languages to reflect how Hispanic people talk,'' said Kristi Ernsting, a spokeswoman for Hallmark Cards, the nation's largest greeting card maker.

Specifically, Ernsting said, the bilingual cards reflect how younger Hispanics speak.

``Now that the cards have been out for a while and we've had focus group meetings with consumers,'' she said, ``we've found that these are really popular with the . . . 18 to 40 age group -- people who have grown up learning both languages and are very comfortable mixing the two.''

For Father's Day 2000, Ernsting said, the top selling card of the Hallmark en Español line was a Spanglish one.

Michael Polzin, a spokesman for Walgreen Co., says the cards have proved popular with customers at the drugstore chain.

``We've been looking more and more closely at what stores can be carrying these cards because people are looking for them. They're asking for them,'' he says. ``Certainly South Florida, with its large Hispanic population, is a good market for that.''

Hallmark has sold Spanish-language translations of its greeting cards since 1985 but launched its Hallmark en Español line in December 1999, Ernsting said, to create original cards specifically for U.S. Hispanics, whose 2001 buying power is estimated at more than $452 billion.

Though Hallmark would not disclose sales figures for its bilingual line of cards, Ernsting said Miami, New York and San Antonio had the most bilingual customers.

American Greetings, the second-largest greeting card manufacturer, does not make Spanglish greeting cards, said spokeswoman Nancy O'Leary, but it does offer cards with simple messages in Spanish and English.

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