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Hola Sr Trump! Here’s how to talk to your neighbours

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We all know how little the charming Mr Donald Trump thinks about the contribution of his southerly neighbour to life in the USA. But in fact, us English speakers already speak quite a lot of Spanish so perhaps this is a divide we can cross.

Fortunately, Mr Trump has been remarkably open to changing his mind when it comes to foreign policy, employment of undocumented migrants, healthcare, Iran, etc. etc. So here’s our attempt to kick-start the process of changing his attitudes to the Hispanic cultures down the road.

And, to start at the beginning, we all know that to know a culture, you have to speak the language. Unfortunately, teaching old dogs new tricks is hard – particularly old dogs blinded by prejudice, greed and vanity. However, and this is the great news, Trump already speaks Spanish, and so do you!

The Spanish language (more properly referred to as Castellano when in Central/South America) has already contributed 10,000 words to English trough a process called ‘loan-wording’ over the course of the past few centuries.

Here is some of the Spanish vocabulary you have on board without even knowing it: mustang, mosquito, canyon, vanilla, chocolate, jade, tornado, even tomato.

The Castilian tongue spread during the reconquista of Spain from the Moors. As soon as the reconquest was complete, in 1492, they set off to conquer the souls – and trade routes - of the world. This meant that the newly dominant Castellano became the language disseminated around the world during the age of discovery - the years of Cervantes, Calderon de la Barca and Lope de Vega.

Spanish and Pre-Hispanic cultures started to mix their language together so indigenous words soon became adopted for use by the Spanish before being loaned on to English.

In the 17th and 18th centuries American and English traders plied their trade in the ports of the West Indies and South America. Notice how many of these adopted Spanish words are related to weather, landscape and trade.

Here is our list of common English words you might use on your holiday to Spain or Latin America alongside with their origin and meaning.

  • Potato comes from Arawakan batata and Quechua papa (Spanish: patata/papa), which originally referred to sweet potato species.

  • Chocolate comes from Nahuatl xocolatl (Spanish: chocolate), which means bitter water.

  • Tomato comes from Nahuatl xitomatl (Spanish: tomate), which means swelling fruit.

  • Vanilla comes from Spanish vainilla, which means little pod.

  • Avocado comes from Nahuatl ahuacatl (Spanish: aguacate), which means testicle - most probably because of its shape!

  • Barbecue comes from Arawakan barabicu (Spanish: barbacoa), which means framework of sticks.

  • Sherry comes from Spanish Xerés/Jerez, which is the original town where it’s produced.

  • Tobacco comes from Spanish tabaco, referring to the Caribbean island of Tobago.

  • Cigar comes from Mayan sicar (Spanish: cigarro), which means to smoke rolled tobacco leaves.

  • Canoe comes from Arawakan canaoua (Spanish: canoa), which means rough-made/dugout boat.

  • Hammock comes from Arawakan hamaca (Spanish: hamaca), which means fish nets.

  • Jade comes from Spanish piedra de ijada, which means loin stone.

  • Condor comes from Quechua cuntur (Spanish: condor), which is its native name.

  • Iguana comes from Arawakan iwana (Spanish: iguana), which means lizard.

  • Jaguar comes from Guarani yaguara (Spanish: jaguar), which refers to a large beast of prey.

  • Puma comes from Quechua puma (Spanish: puma), which means powerful.

  • Mustang comes from Spanish mestengo, which means wild/stray.

  • Mosquito comes from Spanish mosquito, which means little fly.

  • Alligator comes from Spanish lagarto, which means lizard.

  • Chaparral comes from Basque txapar (Spanish: chaparro), which means evergreen oak.

  • Key/Cay comes from Arawakan cayo (Spanish: cayo), which means low island.

  • Pampas comes from Quechua pampa (Spanish: pampa), which means plain.

  • Mesa comes from Spanish mesa, which means table.

  • Caldera (as in a volcano) comes from Spanish caldera, which means cooking pot.

  • Canyon comes from Spanish cañón, which means big tube.

  • Hurricane comes Arawakan hurákan (Spanish: huracán), which means cyclone.

  • Tornado comes from Spanish tornada, which means thunderstorm. .

Hopefully you enjoyed this list. Do you know other English words of hispanic origins?

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The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

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