A guide to the variety of Spanish spoken at WHS
November 21, 2023
Colloquial experts - (left to right) Nathalia Diaz (freshmen), Laura Herrera (senior), and Jenny Iracheta (freshmen) share the meanings of Spanish words and phrases one may hear in the hallways of WHS.
Language is the cornerstone of a culture, binding it together. Three Westfield High School students share the uniqueness of Spanish from their respective Latin countries and appreciate culture through slang.
Senior Laura Herrera, Colombian, shares a popular expression, “Quiubo“ which is a way of asking how you are; it basically means “What’s up?” Sometimes the words “parce” or “mano” are added, both slang terms for friends.”
These greetings are unique to Colombia, as opposed to the typical Spanish greeting we are used to, “Hola, cómo estás?”
“These expressions not only serve as a way to greet someone, but they also reflect the friendly and welcoming nature of Colombian culture,” Herrera said.
Words and phrases change between Colombia and its neighbor to the east, Venezuela. A unique Venezuelan phrase is “amuñuñao.”
“Amuñuñao” means that everything is close together or packed,” Venezuelan Nathalia Diaz (9) explained. If a place is super crowded, instead of saying “esta muy lleno,” Venezuelans will say “esta muy amuñuñao.”
The most common Spanish dialect spoken here at WHS is Mexican Spanish, which is full of its own unique expressions, as shown by freshman Jenny Iracheta, Mexican.
“A very common Mexican phrase is 'No manches’ which is used in a sentence like ‘No manches, en serio?’ to show shock. It directly translates to ‘don’t stain’ or ‘don’t suck’, but it’s used to say ‘you’re kidding, really?” Iracheta said.
These different words, known as colloquialisms, give insight into how Spanish stands on its own as a distinct language tradition with dialects and accents that vary by country, region, and family.
There’s specifically a contrast between Hispanics born in the US or in Latin America. “Everyone’s accents are different depending on if they originated from the US or their country… I’m from here, so it does sound different [from other Mexicans], but it’s normal to me,” explains Iracheta.
Additionally, “In Colombia, accents vary by location. My parents, for example, have a "Santandereano" accent, which is slightly stronger than mine, which is "Rolo," which is exceedingly soft-spoken and easier to understand,” Herrera explained. “For example, in countries like Puerto Rico, people speak faster, which may be tough for us to understand.”
This can cause understanding difficulty between both native and non-native Spanish speakers due to varied accents, speech speed, and words that either have no meaning or have different meanings.
Since language is strongly connected to culture, we can learn about the niches of it to appreciate Latin cultures and their distinctive dialects. Herrera sums it up perfectly, stating
“I feel that the variation of accents that are found in the country of Colombia itself is beautiful and is a very good means of demonstrating how each part in Colombia has its own history and culture.”