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Bad Luck Brandi: Spanish slang and the ‘p’ word

1 February 2014 By Brandi Bottalico, Senior Editor One Comment

One of my favorite things from my service trip to Honduras was being able to practice my Spanish and getting to know the Hondurans. Luckily I had studied abroad in Spain over the summer so could speak decent but sometimes understanding them was hard. Especially because to me they had an accent compared to the Spaniards. One day, one of the army guards, who were with our group for protection, called me over. He started talking to me in Spanish about if I knew anyone in the military and then later in the conversation they complimented my Spanish and asked where I had learned to speak. I told them that I studied abroad in Spain but am not very good at speaking.

They asked what some differences were in the way they spoke Spanish compared to the Spaniards. I told them their pronunciation was different and that they had different slang than there. They then asked more in detail and eventually asked about what slang they used in Spain. I told them how my friends and I learned that in Spain the word ‘Tío,’ which technically translates as uncle, could be used for ‘dude.’ They said that they don’t use it for that in Honduras and then I questioned in my mind whether I should mention the other phrase we learned in Spain because it was more sensitive when translated technically, but I thought surely they would probably be at least familiar with it. I was wrong. In Spain, the phrase ‘de puta madre’ you can use to mean that something is really awesome, but it technically translates as ‘of your b**** mother. They looked at me and I tried to explain that it doesn’t actually mean that in Spain, that it’s just slang. And they laughed a little and one of them said it is literally an insult to someone’s mom in Honduras. And they also emphasized that they never use what they referred to as the ‘p’ word in Honduras because it has a stronger meaning than how it is used in the United States. I felt horrible and kept apologizing but I could tell they weren’t offended. So I told the one guard that I’m sure his mother is a very nice woman and went back to work.


One Comment »

  • Eric said:

    Here, we use puta madre in different ways, like ‘son of a bitch’ or WTF…or ‘are you serious?’

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