English Words Used in Spain

Every so often, I hear some “English” words being used here in Spain. Sometimes, I’ll use the Spanish word that I learned is correct, only to be ‘corrected’ by someone who thinks I’m using the wrong word. I also hear Spanish people using these words and see them on advertisements. Keep in mind that all these words are pronounced with Spanish pronunciation and phonology, but use the English spelling.  I’ve had to almost re-learn some of the Spanish I knew, because nobody here uses the Spanish word, but the English loan instead!

  1. Ticket is used for a receipt. After using recibo a few times, I realized that nobody really uses that word here. Even when I bought boletas for a play here, they asked me for my ticket.
  2. Tupper (take away box). After asking for una caja para llevar (a box to take away) at a restaurant, the waiter informed me (somewhat snootily) that I must mean un tupper, as in Tupperware, which to me is not a disposable container. I am still a little annoyed at his tone, but it seems this is pretty widespread here. Any container for carrying food, whether disposable or reusable, can be called un tupper, though I think I’ve only seen one item that actually was the Tupperware brand.
  3. Shopping- While I learned ir de compras meant shopping, I have heard people here say ir de shopping.
  4. On Line- I went to a store and said I ordered something en linea, and the man said “on-line, vale” and sent his co-worker to look for it. This one I see everywhere It’s so funny to me when I’ll have my words ‘translated’ back into English by Spanish-speakers. Not sure what’s wrong with en linea still.
  5. Living- As in a living room. I learned sala, but to hear un living is not out of the ordinary. I think at this point they are interchangeable, but maybe in a few years nobody will use sala except us recently arrived Americans and our outdated textbook vocabulary.
  6. Jersey- This one always throws me off. For me, this is a suéter or sudadera, but this is mostly a regional borrowing of the British English ‘jersey.’ I don’t use ‘jersey’ in English and it’s strange to use a Spanish loanword of British English.
  7. Facebook/Whatsapp- This one isn’t really a loanword because it’s a brandname like Tupperware. However, it’s really interesting to hear all the Spanish pronunciation  variations of these two very English words. Facebook can be Faboo or Fabook, and Whatsapp is Watsatt or Wasap. 

With a globalizing world in which people abroad are consuming more and more media in English, I’m interested to see which other words start to be adopted into other languages like Spanish. It’s even more interesting to me because some of the Spanish words I use like computadora, jeans or refrigerador aren’t used here because the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) doesn’t like English-based words in Spanish and instead came up with substitutes rooted in the Spanish lexicon. It definitely makes language learning a little bit more of a struggle when you’re ‘corrected’ on what you’ve been taught is the Spanish word because people use a derivative of English instead!


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