Short and…Sweet?

“Tienes mala cara.” Direct translation? You have bad face. Spaniards, including Peppi, love this expression. The Spanish are straight-forward and to-the-point. They don’t mess around. When I’ve caught a cold or pulled a 6 AM-er at the discoteca, chances are I probably do have mala cara. The truth hurts, but here, it’s not intended to – it’s fact.

Los gitanos se parecen a ellas. “The gypsies look like those girls over there,” Peppi confirms mid-conversation, pointing directly to the women seated next to us. Why lower your voice when you can openly announce your thoughts? Oh, que gordita! Oh, look, sweety, you’ve gotten a little fat! Esta es la hija bonita. This one, she’s the pretty daughter. The examples are endless.

Spanish words have power; the verbs are strong, the sentences, fluid, the intonation, melodic. While living as a Sevilliano, I’ve come across a few verbs that I find pretty guay:

Trasnochar: to stay up late. This weekend, I spent my Friday evening at a flamenco bar with my friend Jaclyn and her family. Traditional cantes filled the rustic bar quarters, powerful, rhaspy voices accompanied by Spanish guitar. The locals gathered for the midnight show. A young, saucy cantaor sang a fiery song about his attraction to “women of the night.” Jaclyn and I joked that the young man in red was singing about us, his spellbound bystanders. Quickly, however, her host parents clarified that the song was about a different woman of the night, not just those who like to trasnochar…if you know what I mean.

Engordar: to get fat. Las papas engordan mucho. The potatoes make you fat. One simple words has a whole lot of weight (pun intended).

Aprovechar: to make the most of. Haven’t you always wanted just one word that describes grabbing life my the horns? Well, the bullfighters beat you to it. Literally.

Fijarse: to pay attention to. In just one word, fijáis, a professor informs the class that this is something important, something to be noted. Forget the fluff, you need to know this stuff.

Maybe my studious, nerdy side is shining through, but I’m loving these linguistics. Every day feels like constant, never-ending Spanish 101.

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2 thoughts on “Short and…Sweet?

  1. Casey and Fred were talking the other day about how learning another language isn’t really necessary. Necessary has nothing to do with it. It’s fascinating. It’s living life through a different lens. The Germans have a word ‘doch’ – which is a positive answer to a negative question, like ‘on the contrary.’ Learning other languages is unnecessary? Doch!

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