Do You Speak Castillian?

The Spanish is slightly different here in Peru. First of all, it’s not Spanish. It’s “castellano” which is a result, I’m guessing, from when the conquistadors came over from Castille. The Peruvians use an incredible amount of slang, but I’m not sure if it’s more than everyone else. Now that I have dreams in Spanish (many of which “no entiendo”), some Lima specific terms are becoming part of my daily language. Here are a few of them:

de frente: in Spanish class, we learned “derecha” for “right” and “de recho” for “straight on” — that won’t work here. If you say “de recho” to a taxi driver here, they will assume you said to turn right and got the vowel wrong. If you want them to go straight, say “de frente”. Not to be confused with “en frente” which is across”.

A doubler – to turn.

Playa: parking lot (yes! so you will find “parking beaches” far away from the water).

Cobrer – to cost/pay.

IMG_7175Palta: avocado

Maracuya: it’s passionfruit but I have to recall the English because that heady scent seems much more of a “mah-ra-coo-yay” for some reason.

Ficho: fancy

Guinasso: F&*(*ing awesome. I think that’s how it’s spelled…

Hallar: hitch a ride

Sencilla (Efectivo/Plata/dinero in other forms of Spanish): for petty cash or small change. There is a lot of fake money here so people prefer coins  and small bills.
Barrio versus district: seems to be a matter of “class” — when I referred to Miraflores as my barrio, I was met by giggles of embarrassment. It’s apparently not a barrio, and certainly not in Castillian!

 

It’s Colombia; Not Columbia

Products for sale at the airport.
Products for sale at the airport.

It’s Colombia. Not Columbia. Columbia when spelled with a “u” is a university in New York and a brand of sports apparel, and many cities. The country of Colombia is spelled “Colombia” in both Spanish and English.

Bogota, is spelled with two “o”s and so is Colombia: Bogota, Colombia.

Here’s the video about the “It’s Colombia; Not Columbia” campaign.

Of Destinos and Destinations

Famous street in the La Boca harbor area of Buenos Aires.
Famous street in the La Boca harbor area of Buenos Aires.

Living in Colombia, in a world of Spanish, when my doorman still sounds like he’s speaking Mandarin to me (I don’t speak Mandarin), I’m reminded of Spanish class and watching Destinos, the telenovela made for Spanish learners.

So when I visited Buenos Aires, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the Destinos locations, as part of my own “Hollywood tour.” It’s not the Oscars but it certainly is cultural.

The hotel where the main character stayed in Destinos.
The hotel where the main character stayed in Destinos…?

I also decided that this gives me a good reason to visit Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Spain… not that I need one.

 

Artfully Learning Fun(ny) Spanish

La esposa y las esposas.
” La esposa y las esposas.

Learning a new language (and culture) is both fun, and sometimes, funny. The general assumption about Spanish is that you can put an “o” on the end of the wordo (see, like that) and that this “o” will make it Spanish. Lots of the words are the indeed the same or similar in English and Spanish. These are called cognates. An example is dictionary: diccionario. Looks the same, must be the same. But, how easily one can land, mouth on foot! Here are some other words and phrases that can make for sticky or embarrassing situations (does my quick doodle better illustrate the point?).

“embarrazado” = to be a pregnant man (the “o” means that you are a man). To be embarrassed is “avergonzado” which makes me think about modern journalism being “gonzo”…
“las esposas” = the wives or handcuffs (useful if you are talking about two or more wives or handcuffs). Perhaps somehow related to “ball and chain?”

Also, today is “martes trece” or “Tuesday the 13th” which is the equivalent to “Friday the Thirteenth” — a day of bad luck, a day not to leave your house, not to start a new business, etc. in Spanish-speaking countries. Perhaps a day to stay indoors looking up funny cognates online. I am taking note of these as I go along, so if I get them wrong, please comment! I look forward to trying to avoid too many encounters of foot in mouth once I get to Colombia.