Español Boricua

If you have been following my posts, even if you have only read one, you have noticed that this is a kind of tutorial thing; a “how-to” survival guide. You have to know how Boricuas do things so you can understand and enjoy your time when you are around us. Today is no exception. Spanish is a special language and there is no one way to speak Spanish. I mean, if your primary language is not Spanish and you learned it at school, you can survive pretty much in any Spanish-speaking country. When you learn English, you can survive anywhere in the United States at least. For example, a pumpkin is a pumpkin in NYC and in Texas (most likely the one is Texas is bigger). I will go over a couple of examples of words in Spanish and it’s translation in English.


The first one is pumpkin. As I said, in NYC and Texas is the same thing. The Spanish translation in Puerto Rico is calabaza but in Venezuela is auyama. How can that be? Spanish should be Spanish, right? If you want a watermelon in Boston, you ask kindly for one. If you are in Venezuela, after they looked at you funny for asking for a calabaza, you should ask for a patilla(for us Boricuas, that word means sideburns). In Borinquen if you want a watermelon you should ask for a sandía or melón. If you want a good drink  in Perú a chicha is nice, but not even close to what it means in Puerto Rico (but it’s still good). Same language, but the word is different.

Everyone in Puerto Rico has enjoyed a great quenepa from Ponce or Juana Diaz. But if you go to Cuba (you need a passport for that, don’t forget) they eat mamoncillos. In USA, it means Spanish lime and no matter where you eat it its still delicious. I remember when we were kids, my father used to bring us parcha. If you know me at all, you would know I don’t eat that fruit, but in Colombia it’s called granadilla, and in Barack Obama’s turf is called Passion Fruit. I know my family loved it, but they did not feel the “Passion” of the fruit.

Arroz guisao’

When you consider that América Latina covers from México all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, it kind of makes sense. It’s more than half of America (and I mean America, not United States OF America), and with all the years of history it makes sense of the difference in words. What is really funny is that in an Island as big as mine, we have differences too. In my hometown of Cidra, and also in the north side of the Island, a vellón is a five cents coin while in the south it is referred as a ficha. In English is just a five cent coin. In the north side Boricuas cook rice in a caldero and make sancocho in an olla (a big one, I should say). In Ponce (because they think they are special) they refer to both things the other way around. In English, you use a pot, a bigger one for stews. If you want a lollipop, is either a paleta or pilón, and if you want to have a pony tail you use a pinche (which in México is a totally different thing) or hebilla to hold it.

Our language is what identifies us with our fellow Latinos. The words we use, the way we say them and the letters we never learned to pronounce (or we choose not to) makes Boricuas unique. There is no other culture like ours and we are proud that it is that way. So, if you have other words like these or expressions in “Spanish” you want to share, feel free to. Leave a comment, or email it to me at and I will make a special post about it. Make sure to share this post. Until next time, cójanlo suave!


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