Spanish - How do I say/What does this mean?

The light (finally) comes on

The typical use the present tense to describe something in the future wording always confuses me. That is, when thinking about how to talk about something in the future, I tend to think in the future (or almost future -- voy a) tense. Well, the light just came on.

Here is what I got in my daily Spanish email:

Mi hermana se casa el mes que viene.

My sister is getting married next month.

I look at it. There is nothing about getting in the Spanish. It says "My sister marries next month", just like you might say it in English.


My last post made me think: Throughout Latin America, and in all my Spanish experience, "saludos" has been the standard for informal salutation. Yet, in Nicaragua, everyone seems to use "saludes" instead. A search of the term on this site brings up a number of examples. Anyone know the origin of this variation, and whether it is unique to Nicaragua? I've been curious...

My favorite Nicaraguan saying

I lived in Juigalpa for almost three years and one of my favorite sayings is from that region: "El que se quema con la leche, hasta la cuajada sopla." This means literally "He who burns himself with milk, even blows on the cuajada." Its roots are in the dairy farmer's breakfast. If on a certain day, he wasn't careful, he may burn his tongue when he starts to drink his hot milk. As a result, the following day when he is served cuajada, which is cold cheese, he still blows on it!

Spanish, Spanglish and Nicaraguan

Susan and I have been having a conversation that has evolved into more or less the title here. The word for computer came up. I first heard computadora in Costa Rica and that seems to be the norm here in Nicaragua. But, ordenador got added to my vocabulary when watching ST:TNG in Spanish.

The popular opinion is that ordenador is real Spanish (as from Spain) and compuador or computadora are Latin American Spanish. That got me thinking about how the Spanish language evolves. And, well, any language evolves. Here is my theory of the morning.

Allí lo toque

That's what the woman said as she left my pickup this morning. It was a clear reference to the people left in the truck and I understood exactly what she was saying. But, I asked Ana a question about it and her conclusion was that it was just bad Nicaraguan Spanish. Maybe it was but I am thinking it was not.

First, for those not in Nicaragua, what she was telling me was that when the folks got to where they wanted to be let off, they would tap on the roof of the truck. But, what she said was "There he (or she) may touch it".

Is this right?

I am on a list where I get an expression a day in Spanish. (It actually comes from Here is the expression I just received:

Ayer quedé con él por primera vez.

My immediate thought was "Yesterday I slept with him" where slept was expressed using "stayed". Their translation is "I met him yesterday for the first time."

Common Expressions

SpanishEarTraining offers a quiz of 10 common expressions you may find interesting. As they point out, you probably will know all the words but not understand what the expressions actually mean.

Feel free to add others that you have learned here.

Your biggest language mistakes

I'm not talking about foot-in-mouth disease in your own language. If you're living in Nicaragua or hoping to live there, I'd like to think that you have at least attempted Spanish and was wondering about your worst mistakes, or embarrassing moments, or perhaps the most creative way you found to communicate.

My favourite Nicañol dicho

"Un ladrón que roba a un ladrón consigue cientos años de perdón."

A thief who robs a thief gets one hundred years of grace.

That warm, moist, hairy body cavity

The armpit, toward which commerce directs supermarket shelves full of deodorants, has two translations into Spanish: the feminine 'axila' and the masculine 'sobaco' (both apply to his & hers). On Nica TV this morning a doctor, talking about where to stick the thermometer to gage a fever, corrected the moderators' 'sobaco' with 'axila'. That puzzled me. I know only one word for arm, 'braso'. So I asked my little woman, my Chela, what's the difference?

English Subjunctive to Spanish ???

We seldom use the subjunctive in English. For me, the result has been that I just don't try in Spanish even though I realize it is more popular. Yes, I have read the rules but that is quite different from thinking it automatically. Here is a specific example that I would like to sort out.

Brad says "Be good." to his dog. Ana asks, "What does that mean?" Well, she now knows what it means but my (and her) translation turned into something pretty cumbersome. Something along the lines of "I would like you to stop your continued harassment of the cat".

Flush the Toilet?

I am on Patrick Jackson's mailing list. He is the guy who did Learning Spanish Like Crazy. His email usually contains a teaser to get you to read it. A few words of phrases that are idiomatic.

He usually tells you what is commonly said in Colombia and then offers some other possibilities for other places in Latin America. More often than not, one seems to fit the common usage I hear (and use) in Nicaragua. But, not so this time.

Typing an "at sign" (@)

The first time you encounter a Spanish computer keyboard, you are likely to limp along finding symbols characters that appear in different places (and different between Spanish keyboards made for Spain and those for Latin America) but the first time you need to enter an email address, you will probably come to a dead stop. That is because while you may find an @ on the keyboard, you don't just press the key or Shift plus the key.

The Leading "e"

For years, the "how do you say this in English" sequence seems to go like this. Let's take "smile" as an example but the same applies to all so many words such as school.

Me: Smile
Them: Essmile
Me: Smile
Them: Essmile
Me: Smile
Them: Essmile
Me: Sandinista
Them: some obscenity

My reason for saying "sandinista" is because it is a word that is not pronounced like it has an "e" in front of it. Thus, it is clear that a Nicaraguan can pronounce a word that starts with "s" without adding the leading "e".

I am wondering if

Talking Precisely in (Nicaraguan) Spanish

In any language, we quickly learn how to chat or carry on a dinner conversation. I do fine with it. Most of my technical work (yes, computers but much more than that) is done in English. I do fine with that. But, more often than not, when I try to be precise in Spanish it gets interpreted and more or less. I'm looking for ideas, pointers, ...

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