Words with frontiers: Is there such thing as global Spanish?

When you write in Spanish for several countries you have one enemy: polisemy. You have to be careful when you try to take them from one country into another because they might mean totally different meanings. When in one country the meaning is insulting you have a big problem.

If you are trying to write for a very big audience, your best way to cross borders is to make a list of those words that cannot cross the border with you. Also, you need to have a Media mentality.

Media mentality means that you are politically correct to the top. You are proactively politically correct. You don’t try and test if you get negative reactions. You don’t impose your criteria and most of all you don’t even make exceptions. You need to know very clearly what lines cannot be crossed.

Globalization is not here yet:

Chota is crazy in Spain, weird in Cuba, and a very derogatory definition for women who change their traditional dress for western modern clothing in rural Bolivia.

Pendejo is kid in Chile and Argentina, but stupid to the max in Mexico.

Cholo is policeman in Mexico, a very derogative word for anyone in Bolivia, and gang member (or sort of) in US among Hispanics/Latinos.

And culo (bottom, pretty normal in Spain) is not ok in any Latin American country.

En español: Lee Palabras con fronteras en PeriodistaHispano.com

Clarisse Céspedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

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