Your Weekly Dose of Spanish by Spaniology: Semana 5

Published in Dungarvan Leader Page 9 on Tuesday 24th of August 2021

You might be able to get by in Spanish better than you think

A fortnight ago we spoke about Spanish loanwords —i.e. words adopted directly without translation— in English, such as guerrilla, mosquito or siesta. And as one would expect, this is generally a mutual process, so the average Spanish speaker is due to employ a series of English terms that we call anglicismos.

Whereas languages like Italian, Spanish or French enjoyed centuries of prestige to wriggle their way into other tongues, English only started to be a significant international language in the past century. But, by Jove, it is making up for lost time. Over the past decades the presence of English loanwords in Spanish has grown exponentially, especially in the fields of sports, technology and science.

The Brits or Americans having exported the most popular sports across the world, it is inevitable that the jargon is also adopted. Therefore it is no surprise that people in Spain va al fútbol los domingos (go to the football game on Sundays) where they expect to see muchos goles (a lot of goals), be they de penalti (from a penalty kick) or after un saque de córner (a corner kick). The more adventurous ones might try different sports and you could find, like yours truly, jugadores de rugby (rugby players) or even aficionados al béisbol (baseball fans).

The less athletic ones will entertain themselves with quieter alternatives and sit down in front of their computers a leer sus e-mails (to read their e-mails), escribir un blog (write a blog) or mirar unos links (check some links). They may turn the telly on para ver un reality show (to watch a reality show) and, if they have thespian inclinations themselves, they may even consider presentarse a un casting (attending a casting). When the commercials are on they might hear a catchy eslogan (slogan); and to thicken the plot, this last one has its ultimate origin in the Irish slua ghairm (battle cry), adopted in English from Scottish Gaelic, but we will leave Celticisms in Spanish for another day.

The Anglomania reaches sometimes rather droll extents and words might be Anglicised willy-nilly, much to the chagrin of language purists. Thus, if you want to practise bungee-jumping in Spain you will have to ask for puenting (from puente: bridge, plus the English suffix -ing), whether you jump from a bridge or any other structure. In a similar manner, Spaniards with notions hacen footing (go jogging) instead of salir a correr (to go running) —this flight of fancy still baffles me, I admit—.

Even if you do not know the language, you will certainly be able to recognise an array of terms when listening to a Spanish conversation. And we can expect the presence of these loanwords to rise, as I am certain that I need not remind the Irish of the propagability of the English language

* Here is your weekly dose of Spanish: Mi hobby favorito es jugar al fútbol [My favourite hobby is playing football]

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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