P is for Problema, not Problemo.

I am currently writing the chapter ‘O is for Olé’ and thought I’d share this bit, which addresses why “sin problema” has become “no problemo”.

In Spanish, most words carry with them the feminine or masculine gender. For example, a house (“la casa”) is feminine while the sky (“el cielo”) is  masculine. These two are classic examples of words that, ending in “a” are feminine while words ending in “o” are masculine.

However, sometimes this is not the case.

The exception to the rule (and there are lots of exceptions to the rule in Spain) can be illustrated precisely by the word “problema”. Although ending in an “a”, this is a masculine word: “el problema”, “un problema”, “los problemas”. So, you can see how “problema” has become “problemo” in the mouths of non-native Spanish speakers.

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A is for Agosto

Ode to August

Agosto – the wonderful summer of August.

The beaches are completely packed. Not one visible grain of sand.

Agosto – the wonderful summer of August.

Strutting around during the day in your best top, enjoying the over 35 degrees heat, you almost catch a cold when you go into the cinema, shivering under the air-con.

Agosto – the wonderful summer of August.

In the urban neighborhoods, you enjoy the summer sounds – of people chatting, of crockery clinking against the plate, of tv’s blasting… At 12am as you try to go to sleep, as you need to go to work the next day.

Agosto – if you play it right, you can enjoy the silence of the city.

V is for Vacas

Vacas means “cows”, but it is the shortened, slang word for “vacaciones”, holidays.

July and August are the big summer holidays in Spain, especially August, when the beaches in the South and East get completely “atiborradas”  – PACKED – ¨hasta los topes¨ (to the brim). Small businesses close down, so don’t despair too much if you see the sign “CERRADO POR VACACIONES.”

We all like to take our holidays at the same time as everyone else. If not, we might get some peace and quiet – and what is the point in that?

(For an example on how “vacas” is used, check out Tomasee’s blog.)

¡A disfrutar!