I’m now rounding off my 7th month of speaking Spanish. I learned the basics in Guatemala, living with Spanish speakers and taking a few Spanish classes. At the moment, I like to think I’m “refining” my language ability here in Colombia. I’ve now come to love the language so much that I actually prefer it to English. Why?
Tell Me You Love Me
Spanish is a much more emotional, feeling-based language than English. There are many ways to convey one feeling based on the level of its intensity. For instance, there are tons of words and phrases to express like and love: me gustas, te quiero, te amo, te adoro, estoy embobada, estoy enamorada; these are just a few ways that I know of. You can also apologize or say “excuse me” in more ways: permiso, perdón, disculpa, que pena, lo siento, or lo lamento.
What’s My Name?
If someone is trying to get my attention in English, depending on age and social situation, they are likely to use something like: “ma’am” (yuck, makes me feel old); “miss” (I’m not your 6th grade teacher); or maybe “hey girl” (can be a bit rude). In my day-to-day life in Colombia, I’m called flaca (skinny); mi amor (my love); mi vida (my life); mi reina (my queen); princesa (princess); mi cielo (my sky); linda (pretty); and the standard señorita. At first I thought it was a little telenovela, but I’ve come to appreciate all these pet names.
Everything Can Be Cute and Little
“One moment, please,” says the telephone operator on the other end. Brrr – how cold! “Dame un momentito.” Well of course I will! Con mucho gusto! The diminutive in the sentence was added to momento (moment) to make it sound shorter and nicer than a moment. Diminutives are added to the end of words to make them smaller, cuter, nicer, or softer than their regular counterparts. Using an above-mentioned pet name as an example, flaca would become flaquita, making it a bit more endearing and friendly. Kids often call their friends amiguitos instead of amigos. In Colombia, I might order a tintico* (black coffee, from the word tinto) or an arepita (from the word arepa, a delicious Colombian tortilla-type food). Someone humbly speaking about their house might refer to it as a casita. You can literally change any noun or adjective to make it sound cute, without raising the pitch of your voice like you have to in English when you see a puppy and squeal, five octaves higher, “Awwwwww, so cuuuuuuute!”
*Notably, Colombian Spanish is different in that they use “-tico“ instead of “-tito”
Are you bilingual? What are your favorite parts about each language you speak?