Spanish Tip of the Week: Regional Word Variations

Sometimes, traveling teaches us words that we have never heard before, even if we are fluent in the dominant language of the region.  When we travel to England, for example, the American English-speaker may be surprised to hear the diaper referred to as a “nappy” or the stroller referred to as a “pram”.  

The same is true of Spanish.  There are several Spanish synonyms as you travel throughout Spanish-speaking countries… and even within the countries themselves! Different words can be used to refer to the same thing, and the same word can mean different things in different places!

Here is a list of different vocabulary words that you can learn to expand your vocabulary.  Practice with your children at home or when you visit any Spanish-speaking country.

Most: pastel

Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru: torta

Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico: bizcocho

Spain: tarta

“Torta” in Mexico means “sandwich” (torta de jamón)
Most: bebé

Argentina, Uruguay: beba (girl), bebe (boy)

Chile, Bolivia: guagua 

In Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, a “guagua” is a bus.
Cuba: rositas de maíz

Argentina: pochoclo
Venezuela: cotufa
Spain, Mexico: palomitas, palomitas de maíz
Most: chaqueta
Argentina: campera
Dominican Republic, Panama: saco
Mexico: chamarra
Peru: casca
Puerto Rico: blazer (women), gabán (men)
In Spain, a “saco” is a large bag, for example, a large bag of potatoes.
In Mexico “saco” is used for suits.


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