Spanish

Beware of These Spanish Translation Mistakes

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What do Spanish people call their frenemies? It’s simple, really—enemigos. Ha! Get it? Or am I the only one who thought that was funny.

Translation can be a tricky thing. It’s tempting to Englishize all the Spanish words we don’t know. Thus, problem becomes problemo (wrong) and perfect becomes perfecto (correct). But sometimes we get into trouble with this line of thinking.

My Top 10 Spanish Translation Mistakes

Embarazada Embarrassed False Friend

1. Estar embarazada vs. to be embarrassed

Come on, I can’t not mention it. Who hasn’t, on their first trip to Spain or Mexico or wherever, let it slip that they’re so embarazada? I know I have. Too bad embarazada means pregnant!

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So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Chelsea

I’m beginning to think the American men dating Spanish women are a rare breed, because I’m back today with another interview of an American woman dating a Spanish man. These don’t get old for me, because every one of my interviewees has had something new and different to add to the conversation. Let’s let our newest subject introduce herself.

Chelsea Dixon

I’m Chelsea, I am 26 years old and I’m in Spain for the wine. Just kidding (sort of). I first came to Spain for a summer program in college in 2009. I fell in love with the country and was determined to come back, so I applied for a Fulbright grant and surprisingly won! Without the push of the grant as well as the prestige and free airfare that came with it, I’m not sure I really would have gone through with it! I made the official move in September 2010.

How did you meet your fiancé?

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Understanding a Language in Stages

We were watching a soccer (football) match on television a few months ago when it hit me: I understood him—the commentator, that is. Even when a goal was scored and his words flew out faster than I thought possible, I understood. I wasn’t even trying. A few years ago, I would have been astounded to understand such commentary. (If you don’t know, they tend to speak very quickly.) Nowadays it’s almost old hat. What a change!

And I’m not saying this to brag. I got to thinking about the different levels of understanding a language. In my case, it’s Spanish, specifically Spain Spanish.

Of course you could go with levels, but I prefer my own method here:

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What’s With all the Al- Words in Spanish?

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Mario and I went to Italy on our honeymoon. (In July, no less.) It was there that Mario unlearned his very first Spanish word, the word for basil. You see, in Italy, we were eating quite a few Caprese salads (insalata caprese), a simple salad from Capri consisting of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, fresh basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. This salad? Our idea of summer perfection, so we ordered it more than a few times. Mario liked to fancy himself an Italian speaker, so he would order while I pretended I didn’t know English or Italian or Spanish. (Clueless guiri card? Yeah, I’ll play it, even in Italy.) He probably read the description of the insalata caprese a few times, all of which mentioned basilico.

Basil Albahaca

Back in Spain, Mario kept referring to basil as basilico, the Italian word for basil. I thought he was just being cute and trying to remind me of our time in Italy, but it soon became apparent: Mario actually thought the word was basílico, when it was in fact albahaca. I let this go on for a few more days before kindly telling him, “Mario, en tu idioma se dice albahaca.”

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