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Culture: Visita personal – Part II

by Brandi

calendar image

August 17th, 2009

This Week’s Vocabulary To Help You Learn Spanish:

mencioné – I mentioned
miles – thousands
una cosa – one thing
diferente – different
hombres – men
esposas – wives
¡Te has engordado! – You have gained weight!
delgado – skinny
diferencias culturales – cultural differences
probablemente – probably
puerta – door
hogares – homes
interesante – interesting
esposos – husbands
un mes – a month
aquí – here
la semana pasada – last week
la oportunidad – the opportunity
amigos – friends
cultura – culture
pueblos – poor small cities
dinero – money
comida – food
ersona – person
gente – people
hace unos meses – a few months ago
años – years

Like I mencioné la semana pasada, when I lived in Latin America, I had la oportunidad to visit many miles of gente in their hogares. As a result of this, I learned some pretty interesante and fun cultural information while visiting gente.

Una cosa that really shocked me and still seems somewhat diferente was how many of hombres referred to their esposas and vice-versa. If an hombre answered the puerta and we wanted to visit with both him and his esposa, he would almost always yell something like “¡Ven acá gorda!”, which means “Come here ‘chubby’ or ‘overweight'”. The way he referred to his esposa really shocked and surprised me. Esposas also talked this way to their esposos.

In the United States, if I were to call my esposa “gorda”, I would probably have to sleep on the couch for at least un mes! It is something that culturally we just don’t do aquí in the United States.

Many native Spanish speakers will nickname their amigos “gordo”. As I began to be more integrated into the cultura, I started to understand that the names “gordo” and “gorda” weren’t as insulting as I had first thought. In many of the pueblos, when the gente earned enough dinero to buy better comida, they would start to gain a little weight and become somewhat “gordo”. So, I guess in a round about way, being called “gordo” or “gorda” is more of a compliment which means that the persona has enough dinero to buy good comida and become “gordo” or “gorda”.

Hace unos meses, some Latin American amigos I hadn’t seen for años came to the United States to visit me. When they saw me, the first thing they said to me, with a surprised tone, was “¡Te has engordado!”. Although I know the cultura well, I couldn’t help but become a little self conscious. And – just for your information, I am hardly “gordo” (at least I don’t think I am – I usually ride my bike about 40-60 miles per week). I might have filled in a little but I don’t really think I’m “gordo”. I was just VERY delgado when I had known them years before.

Word to the wise: Even though people within the Latin culture call each other “gordo” and “gorda”, I would still recommend avoiding using those names just to ensure people don’t get offended.

Moral of the historia: Diferencias culturales are very real! If you ever go to Latin America and someone happens to call you “gordo” or “gorda”, don’t get offended by this, just realize that it is probablemente a kind of compliment!

Sneak peek at next week: ¡Salud a tu mami [maw-mee]!

¡Hasta la próxima semana! (Until Next Week!)
David S. Clark — President / Director
Click here to learn Spanish.

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3 Responses

  1. kaye says:

    Hi Dave,

    I love your newsletters…I’ve only been a client for a few weeks, love lessons level I, am waiting for my order of II and III to arrive.
    Una pregunta about esto periodicos palabras:

    Porque…esto representa – this represents
    Y … esta parte – this part

    It seems like ‘esta parte’ should be ‘esto’ and ‘esto representa’ should be ‘esta’

    I’m having a hard time understanding this. With feminine and masculine it seems the ‘this’ would follow the f o m rule, no. ??



  2. danwize says:

    I can understand your confusion. To clarify, there are three words for this. Esto, este, and esta. Esto is used when you don’t know what “this” is. It could be masculine or feminine. Este is masculine and esta is feminine.

    Esta parte is correct be cause parte is a feminine word. Not all words follow the simple rule of ‘o’ and ‘a’ endings. Esto representa is correct because we really don’t know what esto is refering to and therefore cannot be masculine or feminine. Hope this helps! @kaye

  3. Kimberly Mussatti says:

    If you think peeing in the street is odd, that’s not the only majior culture difference I’ve noticed in Latin America. The women nurse when and wherever they are. I’ve seen women open thier shirts and start nursing while standing in a crowd and at a school graduation with many children and adults standing around, and no one seem’s to notice. Fortunately I was informed of this custom before I came down here and I was also told that if you look back to see if you saw what you saw they will never trust you as they feel you’re objecting to thier culture.

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