Wednesday, November 18, 2009

oh, that language barrier :P

I would like to think that I'm pretty good at Spanish, but one thing that always throws a curve ball at you are the regional expressions and meanings of words. One of my favorite examples that my friend Lily and I laugh about it that in Cuba, "coger la guagua" means to take the bus. Pronounced exactly the same, but with a dangerously different meaning in Bolivia is "coger la wawa" which means to f*ck the little girl. Ooops. I also was VERY glad that before I went to the Dominican Republic, I read in my guidebook that when asking for a bag for one's purchases, you should always use the word "funda" instead of the elsewhere-commonly-used "bolsa," because otherwise you would be asking for a scrotum. Also highly awkward.

I had a funny moment like that here in Honduras the other day, but it wasn't quite as bad. Locally, people will often use the verb "andar" (to walk) in place of "tener" (to have) such as "Andas lapiz?" (Do you have a pencil?) or "No ando pisto" (meaning, I don't have any money, another fun Honduran slang word). The situation is as follows: I was in a cab and, for whatever reason, it is notororiously hard to be able to get any large amount of change from any sort of vendor here. Since I only had a 100 lempira bill (about $5), and a taxi ride only costs 20, I generally try to make sure folks have change on them. Also, instead of using the word "cambio" (change) for small bills here, people often say "suelto" (like "loose" bills). So, thinking I would finally start trying out the more Honduran grammatical constructions... instead of saying "Tiene cambio?" (Do you have change?) I said, "Anda suelto?" The guy was one of these older, good-natured chatty guys, so his immediate response was "A veces, pero creo que a mi mujer no le gusta." (Sometimes, but I don't think my wife likes it very much) HA! Oh man, that'll teach me for trying something new :P It was just funny how "Do you have change?" could also be taken as "Do you run around like a bachelor?" (soltero, meaning "single," or suelto essentially means loose or released) HA!

Anyway, hopefully I will begin to incorporate more hondurenismos a little more seamlessly into my speech in the coming months :P

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