May 20, 2010

Buenas Nachas

When I was a language learner I made a million mistakes. Wait, I still make a ton of mistakes. I speak at least half the time in Spanish everyday. My husband and I communicate mainly in Spanish and most of the people I am around only speak Spanish as well. I definitely make mistakes. In our circle of friends and community, I get made fun of regularly. I try to take it with grace and sometimes I fight back by speaking English in a broken accent, like many of our friends sound when they try to speak English. But it normally doesn't bother me. I don't mind because the attitude of most Mexicans toward people trying to learn their language is so kind and patient and helpful that after all that patience, they are entitled to poke fun just a little.

Over the past twelve years though, I have heard some funny mistakes. I came to Mexico with a short-term mission program called Spearhead. We lived with Mexican families and learned Spanish through immersion. When I arrived I had already minored in the language but some of my teammates had very little experience speaking Spanish. One girl, who was my roommate at the time, tried to pray for God to guide us on his path and instead asked him to take us on his bus: Señor, llevanos en tu camion (instead of camino). Another friend was trying to tell someone that the Bible was God's truth and instead said: "La Biblia es la verdura de Dios," which means the Bible is God's vegetable. That same girl also accidentally asked a bus driver to pull his pants down when she meant to ask him to stop the bus at the her stop, "Se bajan en panteones" she wanted to say. She really said, "Se baja el pantalon." Another girl, who I didn't know, but had only heard of, was asked to share in her church. She stood up and looked at the pastor and said, "Estoy embarazada", which means "I'm pregnant". She had obviously wanted to say, "I'm embarrassed." Then she proceeded to say, "Y es tu culpa" to the pastor, which means: "And it's your fault!" Oops! One guy told me about his roommate's gaffe. He had just arrived at his host family's house and he wanted to say goodnight, which is "Buenas Noches". As his host mother walked up the steps to go to her bedroom he yelled out, "Buenas Nachas." This means nice butt.


  1. Oh boy! This is sooo funny. I liked the "embarrassed one", poor pastor. I can't stop riendome, casi me orine of so much laughter.

    I am an ex-pat. well... sort of, I lived in the US since childhood, now at 43 me regreso la migra. I dont know Mexico but I am happy here now, after all this is my country. I guess now ya no me tengo que esconder. Now ya tengo mi guerita with me, y mis 4 hijos.

    I enjoy reading your stories.

  2. Electrouble,
    Thanks for laughing with me :) Where are you from in Mex? It must be difficult to return after living in the U.S. for so long!