Spanish is our language, but not all Spanish is created equal. Depending on what Spanish-speaking country you’re in, some words have different meanings. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself saying something very different from what you intended to say. Here are a few possible scenarios that you should try to avoid:
Let’s say you’re in Mexico and you want some cake. Ask for a torta, and you’ll get a sandwich. If you’re in Argentina, and you ask for a torta, you’ll get your cake. But, if you ask for a bizcocho, you’ll get a nasty look from the lady at the counter in return, because bizcocho is slang for vagina.
If you get a bug bite in Puerto Rico, do not say that you got bitten by a bicho. A bicho in Puerto Rico is slang for a penis. Play it safe and stick to insecto.
In need of a bus in Chile? Don’t ask where you can find a guagua because they’ll point to the nearest baby. Instead, ask for a micro. If you ask for a guagua in Mexico, they’ll point to the nearest dog. Better to ask for the nearest camión. But if you’re in the Caribbean, they’ll understand and send you to the nearest bus stop.
Joking around in Mexico, you decide to call someone a pendejo. Suddenly, you’re in a fistfight because you just called them an asshole. But don’t worry, you’ll be safe in Peru, where it just means a smart person with no common sense, or in the Dominican Republic where it means a coward, and calling someone that isn’t such a big deal.
Looking for your jacket in Mexico? Ask for your chamarra, not your chaqueta. Chaqueta in Mexico is the term used for masturbation.
In most countries, ahorita means you’re going to do something right now. But in the Caribbean, ahorita means in a little while. If you have plans to go out, keep this in mind because this can cause some confusion!
And finally, if you’re in the Caribbean, and you want a banana but you ask for a platano, you’ll get a plantain instead. Next time, ask for a guineo.