Thursday, March 25, 2010

Words that are better in Spanish and words that are better in English: Parte Dos

As I continue to meander along the road called "Learning Spanish", I often come upon words that are better in Spanish than they are in English but just as likely I realize that there are words that are much better in English.

Here's one of my ongoing lists:

Words that are better in Spanish:

Cicatriz (see-ca-treez) = scar. I love the romantic sound of cicatriz. It conjures up swashbuckling pirates (hello Johnny Depp) full of cicatrizes.

Ojo (oho) de Pescado = wart. This may be Mexican Spanish because my Puerto Rican/Cuban husband was like WTF is that (because it literally translates to "fish eye") and both he and my dictionary insist the word for wart is verruga. But I prefer the fish eye.

Entonces (en-ton-says) = then. I love this because it reminds me of Toonces the Driving Cat from those ancient Saturday Night Live skits.

Agua Muertes = jelly fish. I like this because it translates to "dead water". Pretty accurate I think.

Rompecabezas = (jigsaw) puzzle. This to me is hilarious because it translates literally to "head breaker". Rompe is the word "to break" and cabeza is "head".

However, there are several words that are much better in English.

The least not being The Pope. In Spanish, it's El Papa but you have to be careful because if you say La Papa you're talking about a potato. This is the same in Portuguese because the first time I heard anyone say it was a Brazilian student of mine and even though he was speaking in English, he kept saying Papa and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why he was talking about a potato.

Rustling. There's something about this word that just evokes what it means. If I say, "The wind is rustling in the trees" you can't help but thing about an autumn day. The Spanish is "Hacer susurrar" which means to make a whisper. This is beautiful in itself but doesn't quite match up to the English.

Tomorrow morning. In and of itself, this isn't so great but when you learn the Spanish equivalent is mañana por la mañana" you appreciate the English brevity.

That's about it for this list but I do want to point out that, despite everyone's claims, Spanish is not always phonetic.

If it was ciudad (see-u-dad) meaning city would be pronounced the same as cuidado (que-dado) meaning careful.

Hubs nearly wet himself when I made that mistake.


  1. I like sangrar (to bleed). Makes me feel like even if you're seriously injured, there's thoughts of sangria :)

    Great post, by the way!!

  2. Pretty awesome that you're learning Spanish...