Spanish Trivia             

My ongoing collection of factoids, grammatical quirks, and proverbios.     Fun fact: My signature is hidden in every drawing. 

1

How do you say "waiter" in Spanish? There are a couple of possibilities. One way is mesero (or mesera if it's a waitress.) This is logical, since mesa means table, and a waiter serves you at your table.

But another word for waiter is camarero. But wait a minute, doesn't cama mean bed? Does that mean you get service in bed? Close, actually. The term camarero is actually derived from cámara which means bedchamber. So, back in the good 'ol days, Spanish nobles would have chambermaids who would make your bed and dress you, provided you were of the pampered nobility class. The term transferred to restaurant waiters, and now sounds extra formal outside of Spain. In Latin America you would typically hear mesero.

2

Beware of direct translations, especially when using colloquialisms.

For example, when coming to a fork in the road, don’t translate it directly, as in el tenedor en el camino. That would literally be an eating utensil in the street. Instead, use the Spanish term bifurcación.

3

What a difference an article makes—a definite article, that is. The two singular forms of the Spanish definite articles, “el” and “la”, both mean "the" and usually correspond to masculine and feminine nouns.

But they occasionally change the meaning of the noun.

For example, la papa means “the potato,” but el papa means “the Pope!”

El Lampiño

4

There are words in Spanish that have no English equivalent.

For example, what do you call that guy who just can't grow any facial hair? Peach fuzz? Baby face?

Well, if you find yourself being called El Lampiño by Spanish speakers, it's because you've been identified as that hombre with no ability to grow barbas ni bigotes.

5

The word for woodpecker in Spanish uses neither wood nor pecking. 

It's pájaro carpintero, quite literally "carpenter bird."