Monday, August 9, 2010

The Language Barrier in the Same Language

As I revealed in an earlier post, I come from a mixed background. My mother is Colombian and my father is Cuban. Though both of their respective homelands speak Spanish, their accents, vocabulary and colloquialisms are not the same. If you have a hard time getting my point, think about how different British and American English are from each other.

Growing up in Cuban-populated Miami, I didn't have too much trouble hearing differences between their patterns of speech. Mom had already become accustomed to my father's way of speech and thus spoke to me using Cuban Spanish.

Yet sometimes there were slip-ups with vocabulary that led to misunderstandings. One particular word comes to mind.

Papaya

In any normal South and Central American country, the word for said fruit is papaya. In Venezuela, they say papaya. In El Salvador, they say papaya. In Peru, they say papaya. And, inevitably, in Colombia, one says papaya.

That is not the case with Cubans.

This is because "papaya" in Cuban Spanish is an extremely vulgar word that references a lady's parts (cut one of these fruits in half and you will see what I'm talking about). Ergo, Cubans use a completely different word for said fruit. "Frutabomba," which literally translates to "fruit bomb."

So, imagine if you will, the shock my dear old Cuban Dad had when, in the mid-80s, his Colombian bride went to do the grocery shopping and suddenly announced something around these lines:




I'm sure he got the point when Mom returned with a fruit bomb instead.

Barb the French Bean

4 comments:

Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb