grathias :D
June 4, 2010 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Mexican Spanish to Castellano! Help me migrate :D

When i go to spain in september for a week i want to know what to say and what not to say!

Im specifically thinking about phrases like "no mames" or "wey" or "pendejo" which are distinctly mexican, and would like to know what their castellano counterparts are?
Any other examples would be very helpful too!

If there are regional variations, im going to the Barcelona area (maybe also to pais vasco) so those two would be helpful.

Also for the accent, just for fun, how do i imitate the castellano accent if i have a mexican spanish accent already? Do i just replace "z" and "c" with "th" or is there more to it?
posted by freddymetz to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You only need one word to communicate, really. And that word is "joder."
posted by Lisitasan at 3:07 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Watch the films of Almodóvar: he's prolific, culturally relevant and funny as hell. The movies are loaded with Madrileño slang as well as more elevated conversation, and great pronunciation of all kinds.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:07 PM on June 4, 2010

What region of Spain are you visiting? That'll help us help you, as you'll probably find that a lot of slang is regional. It might be useful and fun to bone up on some simple phrases in Euskera, Catala, Galego or Bable.

Also, lots of food words are different, though usually intuitive (patata/papa, meloncoton/durazno.) Sometimes they're not, as in the case of the tortilla/tortilla divide.

If you want a draft beer, ask for "una caña".
posted by Lisitasan at 3:17 PM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: i already stated barcelona, and maybe el pais vasco (san sebastian)
posted by freddymetz at 3:28 PM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: so euskara and catalan phrases are welcome too ;)
posted by freddymetz at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2010

In my experience, there's a lot of variation within Spain as to ceceo. I lived in Castilla y León for a while and I can't say that I noticed it much at all (although, to be fair, having lived in Spain and done my graduate studies in Spanish in the US, my accent is a little all over the place: Mexicans say I talk like a Spaniard and vice versa). The only place I noticed a heavy ceceo was in the south; Granada, or Córdoba, and people seemed to eat their 's' more.
So, you might notice a ceceo given that you have a strong background in Mexican Spanish, but I don't think it is terribly prominent in the areas you're visiting.
And yeah, joder and all of its myriad permutations are everywhere: I would add coño and puñeta as well.
posted by queseyo at 4:08 PM on June 4, 2010

"Me cago en la leche" is a great phrase that Spaniards use to express frustration.
posted by Nerro at 4:23 PM on June 4, 2010

Also, this Wikipedia on Spanish Profanity shows which regions use different words/phrases.
posted by Nerro at 4:25 PM on June 4, 2010

Whoops, so you did Barcelona/Vasco. Ho sento! In any case, the spanish you do speak will be useful even if it marks you as a tourist, and you can mimic the language as you hear it when you arrive. If you've never heard Catala spoken, maybe it would be fun to listen to Ràdio Catalunya to acclimate yourself.
posted by Lisitasan at 4:37 PM on June 4, 2010

If you will be *in* Barcelona, while the signs etc. will be in Catalan, most service staff etc. will speak Spanish first - a great proportion are Latin American, and therefore will be speaking more like the Spanish you're used to. Around BCN, it is generally Catalan that is the norm.

One thing is that in Northern Catalunya (so around BCN) they say Merci instead of Gràcies (in Catalan), but unlike French, the emphasis is more on the e rather than the i.

Don't say joder though! Swearing in a foreign language never goes well...
posted by ryanbryan at 5:28 PM on June 4, 2010

The Spaniards laughed at me when I said jitomate instead of tomate, camión instead of autobús, and those cute phrases we use, like ¿Me regala una servilleta? or ¿Me presta un tenedor?. We Mexicans also tend to use a lot of diminutives, which they also find funny. They are much more assertive and it shows in their speech.

I have no idea how to imitate Spanish accent, so I have no advice. Just take into account that if you don't know the correct spelling of a word, it will show in your speech, specially if you mistake a c, s or z.

This question reminded me of a guy who hit on us (we were all girls) in Madrid. He told us he was from Guadalaxara, but he looked like a Mexican. Well, he eventually admitted he was from Guadalajara, México, and was faking his accent. Not to say this could be your case, but it didn't go well with us.
posted by clearlydemon at 6:02 PM on June 4, 2010

I see you're a German who's spent a lot of time in Mexico.

While trying to learn the local vagaries of the language in order to understand and to be understood well is worthwhile, I would advise you not to try "too hard" to sound like a Spaniard. You'll come off like a needy poser. Most Spaniards, ESPECIALLY Catalans, are prickly, sarcastic and cynical. Attempts to pass yourself off as a local will be met with derision. And Spaniards definitely do not fawn over white Westerners the way many Mexicans (especially rural Mexicans) do -- you're just another continental to them.
posted by randomstriker at 9:04 PM on June 4, 2010

Well, he eventually admitted he was from Guadalajara, México, and was faking his accent. Not to say this could be your case, but it didn't go well with us.

THIS. Being different will provoke some good-natured ribbing from Spaniards. Going too far to pass yourself of as a local will be met with disgust. If there's anything that Spaniards (again, ESPECIALLY Catalans) detest, it's unauthenticity.
posted by randomstriker at 9:06 PM on June 4, 2010

I third the use of "joder," as well as the term "tio" (for the casual "man"). Especially effective: "!joder tio!" in order to express amazement at something. Caveat: I studied in southern Spain 10 years ago, don't know if this has changed since then...
posted by elquien at 9:31 PM on June 4, 2010

You only need one word to communicate, really. And that word is "joder."

And vale. To this day, years after studying in Madrid, I still say vale in conversation.

And yeah, definitely do not try and fake an accent.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:17 AM on June 5, 2010

I'm ameriqueno(sorry, the keyboard just refuses to attach the tilde). We Boricuas speak a variety of Spanish that apparently sets everyone in the Spanish-speaking world back on their heels; we drop our s's, make contractions at the drop of a hat and generally talk like we have to barf it all up at once. And we get our message across, it seems, because I've never had anyone ask me to repeat something. Unless they were hard of hearing.
My point is, just speak the way you are comfortable speaking. Think about the familiarity we have with English that enables us to so perfectly misunderstand each other; you'll find it happens in other languages as well. People adapt; they find a way to understand. Just making the attempt to speak another's language puts you waaaaay ahead of the provincial who doesn't try at all. Relax. Have a laugh. Once you can understand jokes in a given culture, you're well on your way to grokking.
posted by girdyerloins at 7:01 AM on June 5, 2010

People in Barcelona tend to automatically speak Catala, even if you address them in Spanish. It's more habit that any kind of rudeness. If you have even the slightest knowledge of French &/or Latin (or Langue D'Oc), you will find Catala reasonably easy to decipher.

Useful phrases include:

gracias - gracies
por favor - si us plau
adios - adeu
no entiendo - no ho entenc
lo siento - ho sento

Swearing in Catala is somewhat similar to swearing in Quebecois, oddly enough. The word you will probably hear most often is hòstia, used anywhere "goddammit" would be appropriate. There's also cagondeu and cagonlostia, for situations which require the expression of your desire to poop on God or the Host.

I think the Catala equivalent of pendejo is pretty much gillipolles, but you could also go with capullo.

I lived in southern Spain for 7+ years and the only people I heard speaking "proper castellano" were older people from Madrid, or nervous foreigners. Everyone else spoke Spanish interspersed with Catala, Eivissenc, Mallorquin, Andaluz, Euskara, Galego, &c. Anyway, Barcelona is a very international city, so no matter what kind of Spanish you're speaking, there will always, always be someone who understands exactly what you're on about.
posted by elizardbits at 8:32 AM on June 5, 2010

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