The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Questions and Answers
by Junot Diaz

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What is the effect of incorporating Spanish words into the story of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

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What a great question!  I think that there is more than one answer, but a few likely theories come to mind.  Aside from just a stylistic choice (meaning that Junot Diaz maybe just liked the sound of the Spanish words mixed in with English, and that is the sole reason he put them there) on the part of the author, the untranslated Spanish words in an English text can serve several different purposes.

An untranslated word, especially a repeated one, in an English text read by a non-Spanish-literate reader creates some Spanish learning over the course of the book.  Either the English reader can't take the suspense anymore and looks the Spanish word up in a dictionary (or asks a Spanish-speaking friend to translate) or, which is more likely, the English reader learns the Spanish word from context.  This means that the situations described and the words around the Spanish word help the reader figure out what the Spanish word means.  Things learned from context (which is almost entirely how...

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