Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Friday, June 26, 2015

25 Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

Good news is I'm still learning a lot of Spanish. Bad news is that I have only reached the level of speaking of a 4 year old. Better news is that I am noticeably improving all the time. Worse news is that I mix advanced expressions with child-like mistakes. Best news is that I don't care about any of the bad news. Worst news is that the people listening to my Spanish do care about the bad, worse, and worst news', because it makes it hard for them to understand me.

Like in part 1 and part 2 (and part 4, part 5part 6, part 7, part 8) of this series, I am constantly noticing the subtleties of Spanish, and I want to share them with you. Here are 25 Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language.

1. Parejas disparejas (pairs that don't match) - There are many words that have different meanings depending if the word is masculine or feminine. Fruta (fruit) is the delicious food that you consume, whereas fruto (fruit) is a general term to describe fruit of plants, or the outcome or benefits of something (i.e. fruit of labor = fruto del trabajo). 

Also el televisor is the medium through which you watch la televisión

2. Punctuation is important - like in English, commas are quite important, especially after "no" (i.e. no espera - she is not waiting / no, espera - no, wait).

3. Pasado mañana - seems like it should be "yesterday morning" since pasado is past and mañana is morning, but really it means "the day after tomorrow".

4. En absoluto - seems like it should be "absolutely" but really it means the opposite, "not at all".

5. Water is tricky - el mar (the sea) can also be la mar (the sea), depending on the region. Then, agua, which is masculine, uses feminine adjectives (i.e. el agua fría).

6. Ya - This word is like Batman's utility belt - it can be used for everything.  In my experience, it has meant: yes, already, now, yet, and um. But, there are many more meanings for the native speakers.

7. The letter "c" - This letter is confused. It carries its normal cckk as in coche (car), but then switches to ssst, as in cerveza (beer), but then gives up its spot to "qu", as in sacar -> saqué (to take out -> I took out). 

8. Cómo como? Como cómo como. - "How do I eat? I eat the way I eat." That's just fun. Thanks Emilio.

9. Language from antiquity - Cabeza de turco (Turkish head) means "scapegoat" and a cuento chino (Chinese story) means "tall tale". I'm not sure how acceptable these are in public, but I've read and heard them both.

10. French? - angloparlante is an "english speaker" (anglais is french for "english" and parler is french for "to speak"), instead of inglehablante (ingles is spanish for "english" and hablar is spanish for "to speak"), which is not a word.

11. Two past participles - There are a few words that have two words to mean the same thing in the past, one as an adjective and the other as a verb. (i.e. "confused" verb - confundido, adj - confuso & "provided" verb - proveído, adj - provisto)

12. Wrong but accepted - seems there are some words that are so commonly misused, the Royal Academy of Spanish just decided to accept both, like freido/frito both mean "fried". (Other examples)

wrong and not accepted

13. I know a palindrome - que él es el que... means "that is the one that...". Just wanted to show off a bit with this one.

14. Phonetically (un)pretty - So, two "o" sounds change to "u" (uno o ocho => uno u ocho) and two "i/y" sounds change to "e" (hijo y hija => hijo e hija) because the double vocal sound is not 'pretty'. However, va a ayudar (he is going to help) is three "a" sounds in a row, is not 'pretty', but is perfectly acceptable.

15. Multiple meanings that are too close - Every language has its weird exceptions but in Spanish, sometimes the same word can mean two different things, that are really close in meaning, but also very distinct (i.e. divertido means "fun" and "funny").

16. Selective past tense - Though I have not been yet, I was told that in the Asturias region, they do not use pretérito perfecto, but only the indefinite past. If you don't know what this means, it just means they have one less set of conjugations to do.

17. Pijo(a) - Rich and/or snob.

18. Echar de menos (throw out from less?) - to miss someone or something, as in "I miss you".

19. No hay de que (There is no that?) - You're welcome.

20. Pim pom pim pom - Yada yada yada.

21. Menos mal (less bad) - Luckily.

22. Choni - A woman with a specific set of characteristics and fashion sense.

23. A lo mejor
 (at best) - Maybe.

24. Es lo que hay - It is what it is.

25. Grouping family members - Padres (parents), hermanos (brothers and sisters), abuelos (grandparents), and tios (aunts and uncles) all take the masculine plural to mean both men and women.

What do you think? 

This list is based on my experiences and I'm curious if you agree of disagree. For the non-Spanish speakers, what fun expressions have you learned? For the Spanish speakers, how do you feel about these, or the inverse, from other languages?

Thanks for reading! For more on my life in Navarra, check out VEN con TMax.

Check out part 1, part 2part 4
part 5part 6, part 7 of this series.

(some of the images/videos used in this post are from other sources and not my own)

Location: Pamplona, Navarra, España


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