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Words and regions



I just purchased level one of rocket spanish and “flipped” through it. I understood the spanish easy peasy, no problem, but bombed about half the flashcards translating english to spanish throughout.

   For those who would question the following offering based on the above: I have been around and mingled with speakers of Mexican spanish since 1974 and soaked up a lot. For personal yet solid  reasons, while interested I didn't learn to speak the language because they first needed to learn mine while permanently residing in my country. There was a lot of pressure for me to communicate with them on someone else's terms.

  The personal circumstances have changed, in a large part because I no longer have the pressure. In the meantime I have eagerly studied them as individuals, as groups and culturally as well as delving deeply into the history of spain, mexico, the descendants of mexicans and the history of the border far beyond the selective and manufactured stuff we have been fed for the last 50 years.


   It was interesting to see some choices of words in level 1 of rocket spanish.

 I've only seen the word “camarero” (waiter) since the last month or so, and except for rocket spanish it was in material from Spain. However, I've seen “se busca mesera” (waitress wanted) taped to various restaurant windows over the last few years in california.

  I've never seen “sándwich” used in spanish before,  to me it's always been ” torta." Maybe there's a difference if it's made with a bolillo rather than sliced bread.

  But, some years ago I was buying a couple of big bags of dried chiles from an elderly couple on a corner in a New Mexico Indian pueblo and the woman was telling me about putting chile in tortas, which she described as an egg dish in which the whites are separated from the yolks before cooking in a pan. It makes sense, because northern new mexico seems to me in many ways to be more culturaly related to Spain than Mexico is even with all the beans, tortillas and chile of a subsistence diet.

   The woman was totally confused about the notion of a torta being a sandwich.

  While similar in style and having much the same ingredients, the food of new mexico is noticibly different than in mexico. Mexico itself has a general difference between northern and southern styles.

  There are recipies for such a torta made with eggs. I don't remember if the yolks are added back after whipping the whites.

 And, a tortilla in spain is an omelette of sorts, everywhere north of guatemala it's a flat bread of corn or wheat.

 “El chorro” in spain seems to refer to the spout of water from a fountain, in Mexican Spanish it's diarhhea - you can see how the mexican derivation came to be. However, Mexican recipies sometimes direct to add a “chorrito” (splash) of something to a preparation.

 There is, or was, a famous, tiny restaurant in spain called “el chorro,” which you'd never find in mexico or the US.

 But, I was recently startled to find that, at least in the US, several restaurants are named “la chingada," which is a profanity with great cultural meaning in Mexico, Octavio Paz treated the subject in the chapter titled  “the sons of la malinche” in his book “ the labyrinth of solitude.”

 And, I don't get the toddler size t-shirts being sold in California with the word “chingon” printed on the front.

 Gambas-camarones, buho-tecalote, patata-papa and so on and on and on.

 A word that seems to have a much different meaning in mexico than in spain: coger.

 Be careful of what you say you're going to do with a taxi...



¡Hola Al22!

Welcome to the forum! 

Indeed, this is one of those fascinating things about Spanish: there are quite a few distinct varieties of the language in the world, and this can lead to things/people having different names in different places. Waiters are a great example of this: depending on where you go in the Latin America, you might hear people say mesero, mozo, camarero, mesonero, or even garzón for “waiter”! (Mesero, mozo, and camarero tend to be the most commonly/widely used, though.)

For our courses, we focus as much as possible on teaching standard Latin American Spanish (i.e. Spanish words and phrases that should be recognizable throughout Latin America) - which means that you may indeed find some differences in vocabulary between what you see in the lessons and what you've heard from native speakers of Mexican Spanish (which is itself its own variety, complete with regional subvariations - for instance, using the word torta to refer to sandwiches is unique to Mexican Spanish). 


However, the good news is that in spite of the many variations of Spanish that exist, many words are still pretty standardized throughout Latin America, and the vocabulary and grammar taught in our courses should still be extremely useful for you no matter who you'd like to talk to in Spanish, or where in Latin America you'd like to go! 





Liss, thank you.


I had purchased levels two and three, then I purchased level one (separate account) because it seemed that there were things built from level one  that I was missing.

  The word mozo for a waiter is interesting. I saw that word in a spanish version of Don Quixote and if I remember right it had to do with mule drivers, maybe in the context of a grown man being called “boy” like a southerner might call a group of men “boys” or how a modern spaniard might use “chico” or “chicos” in like manner.

  But then again it seems “moza” referred to a teenage girl or young woman working as a farm hand, probably the family farm. I believe the young peasant Aldonza Lorenzo, renamed Dulcinea del Toboso and rebranded as a noblewoman in the feverish imagination of Quixote, was refered to as a moza. I'll have to go back and check.

 Don Quixote was a tough read for me. Words no longer used and sometimes not found in spanish dictionaries  and the way the language is used in the book was very difficult. I got to somewhere after the second time Quixote visited the the inn he took for for a castle, then gave up. There's some funny (ha ha) stuff in that book.

  I never saw “usted” in the book, but “vuestra merced” was everywhere I would expect to find  “usted.” Later I found that “usted” is a contraction of “vuestra merced” that came about after Cervantes' time. I believe the abreviation of “usted” is Vd, not Ud, which makes sense.

 Garzón is also interesting to me. I understand it really ticks off a french waiter in france when an american tourist calls him “garçon.” I think it's taken like a rude, arrogant way of an old time aristocrat saying “hey, get over here, boy.”

  Flipping through the flash cards, I sometimes came up with a different way of translating from english into spanish before I saw the rocket translation. For example, for something like “it's a pleasure” my translation would be “es un placer” but the rocket translation was  “mucho gusto." Introducing a friend to another friend to me was “quiero que conoces mi amigo (whomever),” the rocket version began with “te presento…” I came up with empezar rather than comenzar, and so on.

  A puerto rican woman once told me she was greatly put out (much milder than how she said it) by “how Mexicans chop up the language.”

 I find it interesting that “cuídate” and maybe “aguas” became “watchalo” in mexican working slang, which evolved into “watchalote” apparently because it rhymes with “guajalote" (loan word from nahuatl for “turkey”).

” In all it seems they have a great cultural love of rhymes and puns mixed with a quick, funny wit sometimes involving one upping each other with rapid fire retorts.

 However, most Mexican men I've worked with and around have a conversational style which seems to be almost entirely built around endless derivations of “chingar” liberaly sprinkled with “puta madre.”




I appreciate having enrolled with rocket spanish, and any of the above isn't intended as any sort of criticism, I just speak of my experience or things I don't know about.

  In all the years I've been around Mexicans on the job and elsewhere, more recently Guatemalans, some El Salvadorans, and a couple Puerto Rican brothers, I have never heard “te presento" until the other day from rocket spanish, but everyone's name on the job was known.

  However, a former girlfriend with which we lived together for many years, whose parents were born in Mexico (she and I never spoke Spanish together), snorted and rolled her eyes in derision when I asked about a flowery castillian introduction I had read about which had snooty wording wrapped around “presentarle.” She told me that she would use “quiero que conoces…” , which I've never used in real life.

  My girlfriend couldn't read the printed spanish, but whenever I was stuck on something I had read, I could read it to her and she'd tell me what it meant. For some reason I don't understand, she was and is in awe that I can read printed spanish.

  I've known about “mucho gusto” and “ el gusto es mio” forever. I have never, ever heard anyone say “me gustaría," but have heard waitresses ask" “qué quieres?” which would get a direct answer of, say, “huevos con chorizo y papas" of which one would assume comes with beans and choice of tortillas.

  However, I once heard a waitress ask in a sing song voice to a full table of guests “gustAN más TOR-ti-LLAS?"

  Something I see often enough and amuses me is when americans of all ancestries (including latin american) order tex-mex combination plates of some number or other with beans, rice and choice of tortillas with wildly overpriced mexican label beer (which might be brewed in the US) while obvious mexican nationals seated at the next table are eating hamburgers and fries washed down with budweiser.

 And a significant number of those americans might gushingly rave on yelp or google maps (especially self appointed “local guides”)  and other internet reviews about how authenticly “mexican” americanized food really is.

  Why not just say you like it and leave it at that?

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