Words are different here in Mexico, and maybe it’s my synapse-deficient brain, but sometimes I get confused when switching back and forth, especially if I’m translating something right away. The other day, I spent way too much time trying to think of the English word for “lima” (nail file).

I’m not bi-lingual, since I actually took Latin as a foreign language in school (only benefit: I’m pretty good at crossword puzzles). I can follow and understand a movie in Spanish, and, unfortunately I do understand my Mother In Law, way, way too well. I have a pretty good vocabulary and aside from my strange New England pronunciation most people, with a little patience, can understand me quite well.

Since I subscribe to the “living it and learning it school of Spanish” I oftentimes encounter words that are really weird and confuse me. For example, the other day in my yoga class, we were supposed to do small circles with our “munecas”. Now, I knew that “muneca” meant doll, and in all the years I’ve been doing yoga I’ve never brought a doll to class, so I watched surreptitiously as everyone else spun their wrists around.

So I get home, and I ask the Fabster, “You have the same word for doll and wrist? That’s weird.”
“Yeah, almost as weird as having the same word for the lower back of your leg and a baby cow,” he replied.

There’s also words in Spanish, that simply don’t exist in English. For example, Tocayo (or Tocaya if you’re a female) which means “person with the same name as me.” Think about it, the best we English speakers can do in this situation is high five each other and say “Same name guy!!.”

Another great example is “Provecho” which means “Enjoy your food.’ The best we can do with that sentiment is ‘Bon Appétit, which is, in fact, French, and defeats the entire purpose.

Last week, in the Cozumel 4 You Newsletter, I featured this really cute one-eyed terrier up for adoption. (He’s cute, and still up for grabs, if you’re interested) and when the wonderful Rodrigo Rodriguez translated as “tuerto” so, essentially again, there exists in Spanish one word for a whole concept we don’t have.

Further investigation, again, via the Fab-man, reveals that there also exists “cojo” (one-leg guy) and “manco’ (the proverbial one armed man)

These little differences fascinate me. For example, here they play “Crazy 7s” and not “Crazy 8s” Turkeys do not say “gobble, gobble” but rather “gordo,gordo” (fat, fat!)
However, my all time favorite is the noise that roosters make. In English, there’s the “cock-a-doodle-do” of Farmer Brown fame. Here barnyard fowl say “Ki-ki-Ri-Ki”

Try it sometime, it makes for good cocktail party conversations!!

Laura Wilkinson

Author at Cozumel 4 You
An ex-Connecticut Yankee who has called Cozumel home for over 18 years, Laura ran away to the Caribbean years ago, bumped around the islands teaching SCUBA diving, lost some time in Jamaica, and finally stopped in Cozumel for a 2 week vacation that hasn’t ended yet. With a degree in Journalism from a fancy private college she convinced her parents to pay for, Laura writes, edits, and creates the weeklyCozumel 4 You news,social media, and promotional articles about the island, as well as moderates the Cozumel 4 You Facebook group, which currently has over 25,000 members. Her long suffering husband, Fabian, has long since resigned himself to having zero private life, as he’s been involved in her various schemes and plots since his arrival. Proud parents to a variety of rescue dogs and cats, Laura continues to be the bane of her traditional Mexican mother-in-law’s existence, as she muses her way through life in the Mexican Caribbean.
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Una ex yanqui de Connecticut quien llama hogar a Cozumel desde hace más de 15 años. Laura escapó al Caribe hace años, desplazándose de una isla a otra dando clases de BUCEO. Se dedicó a perder el tiempo en Jamaica y finalmente se detuvo en Cozumel para pasar unas vacaciones de 2 semanas que aún no terminan. Convenciendo a sus padres que pagaran una elegante universidad privada, obtuvo su título en Periodismo y Laura crea semanalmente Cozumel 4You, medios sociales y artículos promocionales sobre la Isla y también es moderadora en el grupo Cozumel 4 You en Facebook que actualmente cuenta con 25,000 miembros. Fabián, s umuy tolerante marido, desde hace mucho tiempo se resignó a no tener vida privada, pues se ha visto implicado en los diversos proyectos y planes que urde Laura. Son orgullosos padres de diversos perros y gatos rescatados. Mientras contempla su paso a través de la vida en el Caribe mexicano,Laura continúa siendo la pesadilla en la existencia de su muy tradicional suegra mexicana.

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8 Comments
  1. Kori 10 years ago

    I read this and found myself silently saying all of those words thinking man, we english speakers are so LAME!

  2. Leslie Limon 10 years ago

    I know all to well about the animal sounds being different in English and in Spanish. I tried to teach the sounds to my ESL kids class, and they could not stop laughing. They even argued that animals aren’t bilingual. I have never done it again!

  3. Anonymous 10 years ago

    i like how you ended with a bird reference… lol. watch out for roosters!!!

  4. cozzie laura 10 years ago

    Leslie, I had a friend move here who told me, “everyone loves my dog!! when I walk him down the street, children point to him and say “wow, wow”.

    (dogs here say ‘wow, wow’ and not “bow wow”)

    I had to throw the bird reference in ther somewhere, since they’re everywhere in my world, we now have a crow infestation in the backyard since I put out food for Dave, the stray cat, which apparently is also yummy if you’re a crow.

  5. Sarah 10 years ago

    English is a fucked up language. Fo sho. =)

    I wish I could speak more than one language, alas I have a hard enough time with this one. lol

  6. cozzie laura 10 years ago

    Sarah, I know where you’re from blame it on the educational system there, who do you think allowed me to take Latin as a language???

  7. Mwa 10 years ago

    Dutch and Flemish roosters say kukeleku.

  8. Lisa..... 10 years ago

    I was litening to a David Sedaris (Live at Carnagie Hall) cd the other day where he talked about the rooster thing varying from country to country. Random differences are so much more interesting that big glaring ones.

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