Speaking Spanish When Visiting Spain and Latin America
By Armando Nicolas PJ

Like most non-native speakers of English, Spanish-speaking locals appreciate it very much when tourists and long-time visitors converse with them (or try to) in the local language.

If you're Filipino, however, you have to be extra careful about using words that sound like español, as confusion and disagreement may result from translating inadequately, using the incorrect terms, or expressing yourself in the wrong context.

Embarazado, Embarrassed

Don't be embarrassed if your Spanish is unrefined, or worse—broken, but please don't start making excuses by first saying you're embarazado. That is, unless you're an expectant mother.

Hi, I'm Maricon!

Sure, you don't have control over what name is given to you after you're born into the world but if it's Maricon, maybe it's best to introduce yourself to Spaniards as Mari, or Con-Con perhaps. Maricon in Spanish can be an offensive term to depict a gay man.

Hello, I'm Jane Feo!

Again, you live with your own family name for life (unless you legally change it, by marriage, for example), but if it's Feo (ugly in Spanish) maybe you can just introduce yourself as Jane F. in casual conversations. We may not be aware of it but surnames like Borro (erase), Decrepito (dilapidated), Espulgar (delouse), Gordo (big), and Lentejas (lentils) have actual meanings that would be awkward, funny or weird if we actually spoke Spanish.

Go straight! Derecho!

Thanks to Lyft and Uber, you can safely get from downtown to your hotel in Madrid with little to zero Spanish, but when you see your destination 50 feet in front of you, please don't confuse the driver by saying derecho—it means right (opposite of left) in español.

Pero, Perro, Pera, Perra

Money is translated into Filipino as pera, which is pear in Spanish. Pero corresponds to the conjunction but in both languages. Perro and perra in Spanish are male and female dogs; una perra is quite literally a bitch. Please don't roll your r's too much to be on the safe side—better yet, don't speak Spanish when you talk about money or dogs when in España.


Of course you miss the local desserts and native delicacies of your hometown province, but please don't compare Latin American pastries and cakes with your mother's home-cooked puto—the word is actually what Spanish-speaking people call a man who offers sexual services for a living.


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