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Culture–Fun Spanish Words!

by Brandi

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September 7th, 2009

As you learn Spanish you’ll see there are many great words that I really enjoy and get a kick out of. Today I will share some of these with you as well as discuss a little about culture.

Some of my favorite words in Spanish have to do with cars. These words may vary by region; for example, the word for “horn” in one country is “cláxon”, and in another country it is “bocina”. Most core Spanish words are the same in each country but certain specialized words vary in different regions of the world.

Now we’ll move on to some more of the fun words. The word for car “windshield” is “para brizas”, which literally translates to “it stops breezes”. In Spanish, the word used for “bumper” is “para choques”, which translates to “it stops crashes”. And, the word for a heavy-duty grill in the front of a vehicle is called “mataperros” which means “dog killer”.

Now of course, for the record, we are a very animal-friendly company, website and blog, and I wouldn’t have used the word “mataperros” for “grill” if I had invented Spanish. However, by way of information, that is simply the name for “grill” on a vehicle in some areas. I believe that Latin-Americans may have called it “mataperros” because there is an abundance of dogs in many Latin American countries — especially in many poor pueblos where they seem to be everywhere. A few areas have a kind of dog that is pretty strange. This dog is gray and is pretty much bald with just a few hairs on its head. Where I am from, I have never seen a dog of that breed before going to Latin America, and especially not tons of them in the same city. I’ll just say that it this is the kind of dog I would not choose to own myself.

Now, I must break a myth. In some parts of Asia people eat dogs but this is not so in Latin America. Even though there are hundreds of dogs there, they do not eat dogs — at least not in the Latin countries I have ever lived in or visited. However, they do eat guinea pigs which are pets in the United States, but that is a different topic.

While we are talking about food, there is a fun phrase that I really enjoy in Spanish that people use commonly. This phrase is “me ostiga” and it means “I’ve eaten so much of that type of food that I am really tired of it”. There are certain places to use and not to use this phrase. Remember, as I have mentioned in past newsletters, if someone in Latin America invites you to dinner, if you so not eat everything or are not very complimentary and thankful for the food, they can become very offended by your behavior. In other words, don’t ever use the phrase “me ostiga” with the host/hostess that invited you to eat. The proper place to use this phrase would be after the meal when you’re talking to a friend and after you’re out of earshot from the host/hostess.

Moral of the Story: 1. Spanish words can be fun to learn as log as you use them in the proper place. 2. Don’t plan on eating dog in Latin America, but be prepared to meet lots of dogs if you visit smaller pueblos. 3. Remember to eat all of your food when eating dinner with the native speakers and always compliment the host/hostess. 4. You may eat guinea pig in some countries but it isn’t too common so I wouldn’t worry very much if you don’t want to eat it.

Sneak peek at next week: “How to instantly learn hundreds of Spanish words.”

¡Hasta luego! (Until later!)
David S. Clark — President / Director

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