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How to use English to sound more Spanish

What may have started as a tongue-in-cheek joke among Spaniards has now infected the language: Anglicisms are everywhere. ¡Me da el feeling que va a ser todo muy crazy, bro!

Using words like “heavy” and “fan” can help you sound more Spanish.
Using words like “heavy” and “fan” can help you sound more Spanish.

Languages evolve, nabbing words and phrases from other dialects for all sorts of reasons – because that’s just the name of the thing they’re describing (Ketchup), because they sum up the latest home living trend (hygge), or because they serve an essential professional purpose (feedback, Gin-Tonic).

Former Madrid Mayor Ana Botella made waves in 2013 with her
Former Madrid Mayor Ana Botella made waves in 2013 with her "relaxing cup of café con leche." Cordon

But English words have been slipping into Spanish at high speed for another, altogether more surprising reason: because they sound cool. Because somehow, in a world of Theresa Mays and Donald Trumps, and “relaxing cups of café con leche” in Plaza Mayor, to quote former Madrid mayor Ana Botella, English words still add a certain finesse to a conversation.

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The universal either-or. Used by travelers with a knowing wink, saying, I know this isn’t the right language, and this might even be the full extent of my linguistic capacities, but by jove, I’m ready to drop in a slice of je ne sais quoi.

“¡Qué estrés! ¡No puedo con tanto trabajo!”

“No te preocupes. Lo hacemos 50:50.

‘Crazy’ [crray-Z]

You know how you’re always adopting a US swagger and saying things are loco? Like, it’s gettin’ hairy out here, real loco! Same deal over in Spain with ‘crazy’. The word is just so visceral. So perfectly succinct, dragging your audience into the eye of whatever storm has engulfed you in recent days / hours / minutes / seconds.

“Ha sido una semana muy crazy, tía. Te lo juro. De fiesta todas las noches.”’

‘Fake’ [fay-k]

Muy fake. Fake news. Ropa fake. Presupuestos FAKE. Everyday speech in Spain has been no more immune to the charms of fake news phraseology than anywhere else. Drop this little gem in next to anything you don’t like but can’t be bothered to actually debate.

“Ese vídeo es un fake.”

Interestingly the language does have both a direct translation (‘noticias falsas’) and an equivalent word (‘bulo’, which roughly translates as ‘hoax’). Not the ones you need though, eh.

‘Fan’ [fan]

There are many fans of Camilo Sesto out there.
There are many fans of Camilo Sesto out there. EFE

Linguistic natural selection at play here. The term ‘amante’ (‘lover’, often used for illicit relationships) used to be the word to use when you had strong feelings for something. And now it’s something else: a word from English. Which is a shame, because the idea of loving Game of Thrones or chocolate so much that you were having an affair with it was good fun. But hey.

“Soy muy fan de Camilo Sesto.”

“¡Yo también! Soy mendigo de sus besos.”

‘Feeling’ [feel-ing]

Speaking of strong feelings: aren’t they what make Spain great? Every relationship -- nay, every conversation – is charged with joy, beauty, humor, love, anger, frustration. There’s no ‘meh’ on the peninsula.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that the word ‘feeling’ itself has not only dropped into the language, but made a strong play for the most-used English word. The term is thrown out all the time, as if it were either a really profound reflection…:

“No sé yo, ¿eh? Es que tengo…..el feeling de que va a salir todo bien.”

Or as a measure of just how positively people feel about each other:

“Hay mucho feeling ahí, ¿eh? ¡Incluso van a estar juntos el día de San Valentín!”

‘Game over’ [gaym-ohver]

Ripped straight from nerd folklore and shoehorned into the bubbling cesspit of the political debate. A smackdown for the Twitter generation, apparently. Rajoy, your time in government is over dude! It’s totally GAME OVER!

“Buuuaa ¿has visto lo del master de Pablo Casado? Es un game-over, tío.”

‘Heavy’ [hehv-ee]

Some Spaniards find 'The Handmaid's Tale' too
Some Spaniards find 'The Handmaid's Tale' too "heavy."

A great term. Refers both to classic rock (your AC/DCs and your Iron Maidens) and anything vaguely deep, strong or powerful. As in: a blood-soaked 18-hour documentary about the Vietnam war, or a salad with a particularly rich Caesar dressing. For instance:

“Qué pizza más heavy. No creo que pueda comérmela”


“¿Has visto “El cuento de La Criada”? ‘Unos capítulos pero no me apetece ver más. Demasiado heavy, ¿no? Con lo que me gustan a mí los thrillers.

‘Oh my God’ [oh-mai-got]

There’s only one way to get away with using a phrase like this: unconsciously. As in, you’re not even aware you’ve said it until it’s sailed right out of your mouth. Using the phrase on purpose but ironically is how we got into this Spanglish mess in the first place.

“Noooo. Oh my god. ¿¿Te dijo eso??”

‘Show / performance’ [per-fohrm-ahnce] [sh-ohw]

These are ‘unnecessary anglicisms,’ according to the Real Academia Española, charged with protecting the correct use of the Spanish language. Which is EXACTLY what we’re looking for. Very fun to say, particularly together, which is what usually ends up happening.

“Oye! ¿Te ha gustado la performance?”

“¡Ha sido todo un show!”

‘Vintage’ [Vin-tahj]

Here’s a fun game to play in European cities: which will you find first, a McDonald’s or a vintage clothing shop? I kid, I kid. Everyone needs that sweet overpriced chic.

“Qué tienda tan vintage. Me encanta, tia.”

And why do all of this, I hear you ask? Pssh. Why not? Mola.

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