Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bien Benidos

No, you aren't going crazy.  You read it correctly. "Bien Benidos".   And yes, it's wrong.  It should read "Bienvenidos".

I took this photo myself on my way home from one of my favorite taquerias.  So what does this photo have to do with the price of tea in China you ask?  Nothing. I just couldn't believe it when I saw it and had to take the picture.  Now I have the over whelming desire to share the photo and my disbelief with someone, and that's where you guys come in.

And in case you're wondering, this mistake happens quite often.  A quick search in Google reveals that this alternative spelling is hardly rare.

One thing this photo did do (besides entertain me) is make me think about some of the things that have surprised me the most about Spanish.  And that's what I'm going to talk about today.

For the past 7 years, I've been learning Spanish.  OK, I'll be honest, I've been obsessed with learning Spanish, but that's an entirely different conversation.  Anyway, I've bent over backwards trying to learn the proper Spanish words for everything.  This lead me to the surprising discovery that even though Spanish speakers have their own words, they also like to use ours. 

Let me share some of the things I've seen and heard with you.

No tengo cash, tengo que pagar con tarjeta
I don't have any cash, I have to pay with a card

¿Te gusta mi nuevo look?
Do you like my new look?

Tengo que dar el goodnight a mi hijo
I have to tell my son goodnight

¿Mi camisa es cool, no?
My shirt is cool, isn't it?

Hace mucho que no voy al cine y no es que no salgan buenas movies
I haven't been to the movies in a long time, and it's not because no good movies have come out

¿Qué hiciste anoche?  ¿Fuiste de party?
What did you do last night?  You went out partying?

¿Me das un ride?
Can you give me a ride?

I remember the first time I bought a hot dog while walking the up and down the streets in Mexico.  I asked my friend how to say hot dog in Spanish.  His answer: "hot dog".  With a Spanish accent of course.  He then went on to explain that it's actually "perro caliente" , but everyone says hot dog.

Another shock came when that same friend answered his phone with "Hello?".  Go figure.

Spanglish has even made it's way into advertising.  This is where I'm going to send you off on a "field trip" to one of my favorite blogs written by a young lady named Laura who is kind enough to share her experiences with life in Cancun.  She has two great posts about this very topic, and a picture that you just have to see.

The topic of Spanglish is an interesting one.  You may think Spanglish is mostly prevalent in the US and and perhaps Mexican border towns where Spanish and English are bound to collide, but it's worldwide.  From Mexico to Spain, Miami to Cuba, Spanglish is alive and well.

For a long time I thought there must be a method to the madness.  But it turns out there really isn't.  Some English words catch on and are "in style".  This is something you'll get accustomed to the more you interact with Spanish speakers and immerse yourself in the culture.  You may even find yourself doing it after a while. 

If you'd like to know more about Spanglish and how Spanish is spoken here in the US, then a good book for you to read is Speaking Spanish in the USA.  It takes a close look at how the meanings of some Spanish words have changed or taken on additional meanings beyond their usage and definition in other Spanish speaking countries,  It's an interesting read and a great reference book.

¡Hasta la próxima!


  1. Rodney... things go in and out of style. 1n the late 60's because Italian Movies were muy chido... very cool... everybody answered their phones or said goodby with Ciao !

  2. My two favorites are "sorry" and "bye", the latter of which is regularly spelled 'bay'

  3. Well, I used to think chaqueta was Spanglish for jacket until I read your post on that. So, there's that...

    1. This is 4 years to late (almost to the day), but chaqueta actually does mean jacket, it's in Mexico it that takes on an additional colloquial meaning.

    2. This is 4 years to late (almost to the day), but chaqueta actually does mean jacket, it's in Mexico it that takes on an additional colloquial meaning.

  4. Bienbenido is my suegro's name.