Do you still remember the first time you visited Nicaragua? Even if you had just a basic knowledge of Spanish, you may have felt overwhelmed —especially when bombarded with all of Nicaragua’s typical words, phrases, and sayings. If so, a new book offers practical help.
Nicaraguan Spanish: Speak like a native! takes an in-depth look at 200 of the most common expressions and teaches you some history and culture on the way. As such, it is not a basic Spanish manual; rather, it focuses on making your Spanish, however much you may know, more Nicaraguan.
I spent 17 years in Nicaragua in missionary work and recently was transferred to Mexico. Whenever I hear an unknown word or saying, I have never been shy about asking the meaning. Over the years that helped me to develop a portfolio of local words and sayings, which I tried to use often, both in everyday conversations as well as in public speaking.
What is the benefit of adapting your Spanish to the version spoken locally? Well, Nicaraguans love their local words and sayings. When you learn to speak like they do, it really opens a lot of doors. It leads to closer friendships and even saves you money when you bargain at the market!
The new guide to local Spanish is not written for linguists or academic professionals. Rather, the easy-to-read style allows everyday people to quickly understand the meaning behind many of Nicaragua’s most popular words and phrases. All Nicaraguan terms are clearly differentiated in a bold sans serif font, which sets them off visually, allowing the reader to identify them easily. Usually only one or two phrases and their explanations are given per page, creating a clean, almost airy appearance. This allows the key ideas to become the main attraction.
As an example of the book’s offerings, what if someone tells you he is selling a beautiful hammock a precio de huate mojado? What exactly is huate and why would having the wet version of it make any difference? You’ll find the answer on Page 39.
Or what if a neighbor is excitedly telling you a story and you interject a clarifying question. She answers with: “Eso son otros cien pesos.” Is she trying to charge you for something? Page 145 will clear up your doubts. Why do Nicaraguans call the youngest member of the family the cumiche? Read the fascinating origins of the word on page 90.
One practical suggestion given in the book is that when you go to the market and buy a dozen of anything, always ask for the baker’s dozen. In Nicaraguan Spanish, it is known as the ipegüe. The merchant is going to be shocked you even know that word, and you’ll get item 13 for free.
The new book is available at Amazon.com both in print and Kindle editions here.
Lee Jamison has worked in a voluntary educational work among the Hispanic community for some thirty years. From 1995 to 2012, he lived in cities such as Granada, Diriamba, Juigalpa, Chinandega, and Ticuantepe, and currently resides with his wife Moraima in Mexico City, where he continues to learn country-specific Spanish one conversation at a time. He is working on new editions of his GringoGuide200 series for both Guatemalan and Mexican Spanish.