While I learned Spanish back home, there are a few words I’ve picked up since being here. Part of this is because I didn’t really learn a lot of slang, and the slang I did learn was Mexican or border Spanish. The other reason is because unless you’re living in a place where you’re constantly exposed to a language, you’re going to miss out on some of the more informal phrases and words. I’ve learned that (at least here) Spanish shortens some words and prepared a list of the few words I’ve learned I can save some time while saying.
- Peli (short for película= movie) While learning Spanish, I felt annoyed that película was such an annoying word to say. It has four syllables! I wished there was a shortening of it like ‘movie’ is for ‘moving picture’…and I was right!
- Boli (short for bolígrafo= pen) This is another word I would get annoyed with in Spanish class. How can such a small object have such a long name?? I used to use pluma, a synonym, before being taught that really this referred to a feather pen or quill and wasn’t a true replacement. I was happy to learn that nobody here really uses the full bolígrafo.
- Profe (short for profesor/a= teacher) This one is strange to hear in class, not because it’s short but because it’s a totally acceptable thing to call one’s teacher. Students here call teachers and principals by their first names (never their last), ‘teacher’ or profe. I don’t think I’ve ever heard profesora once in it’s full length. At first it was really strange to me to hear students calling everyone (the principal and myself included) by our first names but I’ve gotten accustomed to it.
- Porfa (short for por favor= please) Coming from Arizona, most people know and use some basic words in Spanish like hola, gracias, adios and por favor. I, however, had never heard the latter ever shortened, but it’s apparently a very Spain thing to shorten. I rarely ever hear por favor and have adopted porfa to feel a little less out of place.
- Cole (short for colegio= [elementary] school) I was never really around any elementary schools that spoke Spanish, so I never really had the opportunity to learn this word until coming here and working for one. Like profe, I rarely hear the full colegio being used. Principals, parents, teachers, students, and advertisements use cole instead.
- Cumple (short for cumpleaños= birthday) This one I think I have heard before moving here, perhaps once or twice. However, working at a school full of children means I hear it now more than ever. Here, it is the person with the birthday’s responsibility to bring something for others. If it’s your birthday, you bring the cake to the office or the party. Children will bring a bag full of snacks or toys for their classmates. It’s really different from the USA.
- Finde (short for fin de semana= weekend) Another one I think I heard once or twice back home in Spanish classes. However, like I mentioned previously, living in a Spanish-speaking country means I hear it now more than ever. It’s much easier to say and feels less stilted than always saying “end of the week.”