Last updateSat, 07 Dec 2019 10am


Conquering Spanish spelling flubs

For the last couple of years we’ve all heard a lot of talk about putting up an uninterrupted man-made barrier between Mexico and the USA.

pg13aIt first it was repeatedly called “the wall,” but as time went by it was referred to in other less polemic terms such as steel slats and bollards. Although the concrete prototypes thrown up at huge expense have long since been demolished, that feisty guy in the White House is has gone back to insisting it’s “the wall.”

The point here is not to get into a political diatribe, but to gently scold fellow expats who can’t seem to master Spanish terminology of common use among us. Yeah, I know, Español is not the native tongue for most of us. My beef may seem petty, but as a wordsmith by profession the spelling errors that appear daily on social networks aggravate me to no end.

I’m begging for expats to quit butchering the language. It’s not all that hard to get it right. If you learn to pronounce the words properly, you’ll probably have little trouble writing them it correctly. Remember that vowels have a single sound, no long and short versions to confuse you.

Here’s the hit list of the most common mistakes discovered while perusing Facebook and popular web boards:

The busy road that connects Chapala and Jocotepec is la carretera. Roll that double “RR” and you won’t be tempted to write careterra , or God forbid, caratera.  If you can’t handle it, what’s wrong with just calling it “the highway.”

If you’re still with me here, the bypass that gets you from Ajijic to the carretera to Guadalajara or vice versa is el libramiento. Not “libermiento,” not “liebramento” or other perversions.

The big public park in Chapala is called El Parque de la Cristiania, spelled phonetically cris-tee-an-ee-ah. It isn’t La Christina. And by the way, there’s also no “h” in La Cristina, the little ‘burb nestled west of Ajijic.

Ajijic’s parish church is dedicated to patron saint San Andrés. Not San Andreas, as applied to California’s notorious geological fault line.   

I’ve seen the town’s main through street labeled Ocompo. Close, but no cigar. It’s Ocampo.

A cement boardwalk built along the shoreline of our lake (or an oceanfront) is a malecón. Seeing it spelled melicon is cause for a bout of melancholy.

The name of Chapala’s big box supermarket is Soriana. No “o” at the end, and definitely not spelled Sorryana though it sounds about right when said aloud.

A moveable street market, like the one comes to Ajijic each Wednesday, is a tianguis. For some folks the spoken word sounds like tea-an-geese. Fine, but common misspellings are legion.

I won’t even get into the errors found in writing out the name of a neighboring town. Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos is quite a mouthful, so I’ll cut some slack for handling that one.

Professional teachers suggest dedicating at least 15 minutes a day to learning a new language. I’d bet that the slowest learners among us could manage to correct the frequent flubs listed above in a single session.