The joys of Spanglish

Unless you're fluent in Spanish when you come here to Andalucia - whether to live, or to have a holiday or extended stay (to write that novel, for example) - speaking the lingo is one of the biggest challenges, but also one of the most essential skills for starting a new life, making friends, and getting things done, whether it be shopping, tax returns, or registering with a local doctor. The availability of websites and forms in English in Andalucia is not great - there's a leaflet about tax, and some information on the Hacienda website, but generally you need to have a reasonable grasp of the lingo, or else a kind friend. So it's always an interesting topic, as our guest blogger Sarah mentioned back in August, when she talked about the Andaluz accent. It's interesting to see the growing use of English words which have been given a new meaning, or just a new tone or emphasis, in Spanish. For example, a few months ago I was interviewing up-and-coming London-based Spanish-born chef Jose Pizarro. We were talking (in his native language) about the tapas restaurants in which he'd recently sold his share. He said he didn't want to go back and visit them, because of the "feeling" - the emotional bond he still has with the places, and the feelings which would be stirred up by returning. So it's not quite the same as the Spanish emocion or sentimiento, as it can also be used to mean ambience; it's an English word which has become Spanglised (or maybe Espanglished). Then, at the EBE blogging conference here in Seville last weekend, we had "kids friendly" and "friends and family". Kid-friendly (ideally without the s, please) I can understand the need for, as the term doesn't exist in Spanish, simply because it isn't needed. All restaurants welcome children, so it's taken for granted. The speaker at EBE was using it in a broader context, probably about software or games. Twitter has thrown up some interesting monsters: in Spanish, a tweet is called a "twit", which had me sniggering an immature schoolgirlish way, and a tweeter is a "twittero". But my own personal favourite is "lifting" - this can apply either to a 40-something or older actress who wants to erase the wrinkles and flabby bits on her face, at the risk of losing all expression; or to the renovation of a public building, as in the case of Plaza EspaƱa in Seville's recent makeover. What Spanglish words have you heard or read recently? I'd love to hear from you, about amusing, strange or just out-and-out bonkers garblings from that nether region between English and Spanish.
Blog published on 25 November 2010