The limits of my language means the limits of my world. 
– Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

aprendiendo español Siempre is the Spanish word for “always.” Nunca is the Spanish word for “never.” Learning a second (or third) language always opens doors to places you’ve never been. Here are some favorite and not-so-favorite Spanish words:

Avergonzado - embarrassed. A good word to use after you apologize for asking a man if he is embarazada

Berejena - eggplant. A fun word to say: “kh” the j, a (personal) favorite sound in Spanish

Bienvenidos - welcome. A beautiful word that spills from the mouth easily.

Camarista - housekeeper. A good word to know in a hotel. Cama means bed, rista means of an organization or occupation. Be sure to tip well!

Desafortunadamente unfortunately.  A long, tongue-twisty word, eloquen when said with intent.

– pregnant. A favorite not only for its unusual pronunciation, but because it sounds like “embarrassed.”

Naranja – orange (fruit and color). Often difficult for a new speaker to pronounce. ¡No me gusta la palabra naranja!

Rico – rich, expensive, or delicious.  May also be used as a lover’s term for sensual. Roll the rrr at the beginning, to add a little spice.

Méxican Spanish slang, there’s nothing quite like it!

Abarotte - a small tienda, or corner store, independently owned, that may sell everything from candy to beer to diapers

Botanos - complimentary snacks served in bars with drinks, ranging from hot dog slices to olives to palomitas (popcorn)

Cawama - giant bottles of beer that you return to the aborotte in exchange for a few pesos off the next one

Chattara - junk food; snacks like chips or duritos (wheel shaped rice crisps), often served with hot sauce and límon

Garrafont - large, exchangeable, plastic: 20 liter bottles of drinking water, common in most households

¡Hijole! – excited expression for “alright!” or “oh boy!” may also mean “Son of a …!” (excitement, not insult)

¡Orale! - literally translates as “Pray to Him,” means OK or understood, often in exclamation

Palomitas de Maiz - popcorn translates literally to “small doves of corn.” A lovely way to say my favorite food!

From Santa Marta to Barranquilla to Cartagena, Colombia comes the challenging and unique Costeño slang:

A la Orden - “at your service,” Colombians say this for many things, when ordering in a restaurant, or complimenting someone’s jewelry. So does that mean I can wear your necklace? Thanks, lady!

Bacano - cool. Often used to describe people, or something you own, like Restaurante Bacano

Chevére – really great! A fun word to say about nearly anything, from a good time to an article of clothing

Crispeta - popcorn. Very different from the Méxican way to say popcorn, it sounds more like a breakfast cereal.

Mazorca – fat corn. Big pieces of chunky corn on or off the cob, often grilled until brown and crisp.

Regalame – “gift me” not a wrapped present, more like “give me.” Guys say, “regalame tu numero de telefono.” Simple and direct!


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