Your Weekly Dose of Spanish by Spaniology: Semana 10

Updated: Oct 6

Published in Dungarvan Leader Page 15 on Tuesday 28th of September


It is plausible that some readers are sporting garments from such retailers as Zara, Mango or Pull&Bear as they read this column. These are only a few of many well-known Spanish brands which have become globally renowned. In fact, most people would be using Spanish products on a regular basis, being often oblivious to their origin.

Inditex is indubitably the most successful and universal of them all. This clothing giant —which boasts such popular brands as Zara, Bershka, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti or Pull&Bear— has made its owner, Amancio Ortega, the richest man in Spain and one of the richest in the world. In the field of fashion, Mango is another retailer which has made its presence felt around the world.

We can find another fine example of Spanish entrepreneurship in a much less flamboyant product: Chupa-Chups. These simple lollipops are enjoyed by young and old alike throughout the entire world, easy to spot by their characteristic logo designed by surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Its commercial name is based on the Spanish verb chupar (to suck), and can therefore be accurately transliterated as "suckie-suckies".

Spanish presence is also notable in the field of motoring, and any readers using the services of Bus Éireann will certainly have been on one of their Irizar vehicles at some point. This Basque company has enjoyed significant success manufacturing luxury buses and coaches. It is, nevertheless, SEAT which is the main exponent in this field. Named after an acronym for Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo (Spanish Society of Tourism Automobiles), their cars can be seen frequently on our roads, giving us the opportunity to brush up on our Spanish geography thanks to their custom of naming their vehicles after Spanish place names. And this custom appears to have a certain rationale behind it, as their most casual and young-oriented hatchback models would be named after popular festive places like Ibiza, Marbella and Málaga, whereas more stately saloon models would receive names like Toledo —the imperial city— or Córdoba —a powerful mediæval emirate—. The city of León, coincidentally sharing name with the mighty lion, gave its name to SEAT's main sports car, whilst other places like Arosa, Alhambra or Altea also enjoyed the honour of featuring as models.

The trend of using Spanish for car models is not restricted to Spanish manufacturers, as the successful Ford Fiesta has proven. This charming custom might nonetheless backfire as in the case of Mitsubishi, having to market their SUV Pajero as Montero in Spanish-speaking countries due to the unfortunate profane connotations of said word in Spanish, which we shall abstain from translating so as not to blemish the pages of this honourable periodical. In an interesting interlinguistic twist, the very SEAT Málaga also had to be renamed Gredos in Greece due to its similarity to Greek expletive μαλάκα (malaka), whose meaning is the same as the aforementioned Mitsubishi in Spanish. You couldn't make it up!

* Here is your weekly dose of Spanish: Prefiero conducir un Montero a un Pajero [I prefer to drive a Montero rather than a Pajero]

Sergio Fernández Redondo

Sergio hails from Asturias in northern Spain and has recently relocated to Dungarvan, where he is a Spanish teacher and PR assistant at Spaniology. Having an eclectic background in engineering, translation and linguistics, he is also a keen aficionado of history and languages.


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