Different Words, One Meaning

[ 0 ] October 12, 2011 |

One of the most widely spoken languages in the world, hated by some and loved by others, Spanish has evolved from a rich blend made up of languages as different as Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, Italian and other European expression systems into our European Spanish and Latin American Spanish of today, where each country and province has its own set of lingos, slang and idioms that identifies each of them.

Indeed, and just like other languages, Spanish has particular words in each country and location for the same item. Although the Diccionario de la Real Academia is one of the most respected places where you can find anything related to correct and approved Spanish words, sometimes these words are not used at all and other lingo is applied, which gives a unique Spanish expression dictionary to each country and province within that country.

In that sense, you will find local sets of words for each area of activities, such as vehicles, daily life, clothes, food, gangs, and many others. Therefore, do not be surprised if you get a strange feeling when you hear Spanish speakers from different countries having a conversation about cars (“coches”, “autos” and “carros” in Spain, Argentina and Venezuela, respectively) and their parts; European Spanish speakers say “neumático” (tire), and “volante” (steering wheel), while Cubans use “llanta” and “timón”. Likewise, a “coche” is driven by an adult person in Spain, but is used by a mother to carry her baby in Venezuela. The Mexican captain of a ship maneuvers with a “timón” while a “volante” is an advertising piece of paper distributed to a crowd — (the English equivalent to a steering wheel and a flyer, respectively).

Regarding parts of the human body, a “jeta” is a Colombian slang expression for mouth, which is not even close to the word “boca”, used in most of the countries. Always in Colombia, “torre” or “coco” are sometimes used for head (“cabeza”), and you will never hear an Argentinian using “guata” (belly) as it is used by most Chileans. Other words for parts of the body are: “greñas”, “bemba”, and “pompis” (hair, mouth, and buttocks, respectively, in Venezuela). “ñejos” means teeth in Colombia, and “chiva” is used for beard in Venezuela.

However, two Spanish speakers understand each other pretty well, and they will always have a way to get across the meaning of something. After having spent a few months in another Spanish speaking country, you will see — even if you are an English speaker — that it is not so hard to understand their word systems, and you will get used to them somewhere in time, thus enriching your Spanish vocabulary as well as your cultural mindset.

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Category: Foreign Language

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