Despite being thousands of kilometers from each other, Spain and Latin America have something undeniably in common: the language. A Spaniard traveling to Chile or Mexico, for example, will find it very easy to communicate with locals. Nevertheless, there are also differences in the similarities which bring people much closer to that country, especially if they are unaware of them. And although Spain and Latin America share the same language, there are words used in both places which don’t necessarily mean the exact same thing. We at Okodia-Grupo traductor have chosen four of these words to use as examples.
What does comida mean for you? Surely, it’s a meal—whether in the morning, afternoon or night. The meaning isn’t all that bad for a Spaniard. Now, if you’re traveling to Latin America, it’s a different thing. In some places such as Costa Rica, Puerto Rico or Colombia, comida means only eating between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. So, if you wish to eat outside of these hours, you’d better find the right word for it.
Do you like smoking? If you’re one of those who do, avoid asking for a pitillo (cigarette) in some Latin American countries, otherwise you might get something unexpected. This is because in some places such as Cuba or Colombia, pitillo means what is known in Spain as pajita (straw), a thin plastic tube used to suck liquids into your mouth.
While argolla in Spain refers to a ring used to hang a curtain from, in Latin America, it has a deeper meaning. There, an argolla is an engagement ring! If you’re not careful, you might get a little more than what you bargained for.
If you like peas or epic movies, you’ll know that in Spanish, vaina means a pod that contains seeds or a sheath for a knife. In some Latin American countries, it can also refer to the seeds of some plants.
So, what about you? What other words do you know which have different meanings in Spain and Latin America?