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Episode 01: 3 Spanish Hacks You Didn’t Expect to Learn from Despacito

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    Learn Spanish Con Salsa Podcast

    Episode 01

    3 Spanish Hacks You Didn’t Expect to Learn from Despacito

    Learn Spanish with music by exploring 3 ways you can use Spanish from the lyrics to the song Despacito.  Find out how to talk about things you have to do, talk about actions in progress, and an easy way to understand the diminutive in Spanish.  Plus find out what Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee are really saying!





    Hola y Bienvenidos. Welcome to episode 1of the Learn Spanish Con Salsa podcast. In this episode, we’re gonna take a look at three Spanish hacks you didn’t expect to learn from the song Despacito. Now, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the song Despacito, but just in case you aren’t, in the summer of 2017, if you were anywhere on the planet Earth, you probably heard this song by Luis Fonsi and it also featured a verse by Daddy Yankee. There’s even a remix done with Justin Bieber, so you really would literally have to be living under a rock to not know about this song. It had over 5.6 billion views on YouTube. It was a very, very popular song even though it came out back in 2017. It is still the most requested song that I get from the blog LearnSpanishConSalsa.com so I get lots of emails that are requesting different song activities to add to the site and Despacito is still the number one requested song.


    So I figured for our first episode we would just take a look at some things that we can learn from the song beyond just reading the lyrics. I mentioned in the previous episode that in this podcast we’re going to talk about effective ways to learn Spanish with music and one of the keys to that is to really understand a little bit of the mechanics of the language along with just getting down to what the song lyrics mean. So I’ll talk more in future episodes about different strategies for how you can really use music to boost your fluency. But for now, let’s take a look at the song Despacito, and find out the three Spanish hacks that we can learn from this song. Okay. Number uno, number one, the first thing that we can take away from the song Despacito is actually in the title of the song itself.


    So you may be familiar with the fact now that the song Despacito actually means slowly, but the word for slowly in Spanish is “despacio.” So how did we get to ‘despacito’? Well, there’s a feature of the Spanish language that is very similar to the English language that’s called the diminutive. So I’ll explain a little bit about what that is. That is really just the grammar term for this phenomenon. It happens in a lot of languages, but I’ll give you some examples. English first. So you’ll kind of get the concept. So in English we have a way of adding a certain ending to words. If we want to make something sound cute or small or little or more as a term of endearment for a loved one and we add a little ending that’s like a “y” or an “ie.” So here’s some examples. Instead of just calling someone cute, you may say, oh, that person’s acuity or your favorite pet.


    You might not just say, oh, that’s my dog. You might say, Oh, I have a doggy. Or a really common one that we probably don’t think about are the words mom and dad. Oftentimes children will say mommy or daddy. So those are all examples of the diminutive. In English, we’re just adding that “y” or “ie” ending to the word. So that’s the diminutive in English,. In Spanish, the diminutive is very similar except for the Indian and Spanish is not “ie” or “y” like it is in English. It’s usually I – T – O, “-ito”. Or in the case of feminine words, it’s I – T – A, “-ita”. Okay. So that is the diminutive form in Spanish. Now there are a few other forms of the diminutive where it might actually instead of being it. Oh it might be I – C – O, so instead of “-ito” would be “-ico


    So that is another form of the diminutive, but the most common one is the “-ito” or “-ita” ending. Now the diminutive is a lot more common in certain countries or certain regions than it is in others. I would say in the Caribbean, which is, you may be familiar with the song Despacito, if you’ve seen the video, it’s set in Puerto Rico, so it is actually very commonly used there. There’s oftentimes when you might say it’s even not necessary, but the diminutive is very common in Puerto Rico, so you might hear a lot of words that end in “-ito” or “-ico” that you can’t find in the dictionary and that’s because they’re the diminuitive forms of other words. So starting with the song title, we have “despacio” becomes “despacito.” And you can make the diminutive with virtually any word just using that same rule.


    So that’s hack number one is how to form the diminutive. There are other examples in the song as well, not just in the title. So towards the end there is a part where they repeatedly say Pasito Pasito, which is the diminutive for “paso,” which means step. So “paso” becomes “pasito.” And they also say, “suavecito.” So now you know that the word “suave”, which usually means smooth is made diminutive by turning that ending to “cito” so you can just add “suavecito” and there are a couple of other examples and there’s one that I’m sure you know as a Spanish learner, it’s probably the first diminutive word that you ever learned when people told you how to respond when someone said, do you speak Spanish? Right? So if someone says, ¿Hablas español?, and you’re a beginner. What do you say?


    “Mmm, hablo un poquito.” OK. “Poquito” the diminutive of the word “poco”, which means “a little.” So you’re saying I speak a little bit of Spanish. Now you can also make names diminutive in Spanish, kind of like you can in English when you give someone a nickname. So for example, Deborah becomes Debbie in English, so there’s something similar that happens in Spanish with the diminutive. So you may have heard the Spanish name Rosa. Now the domain to form of that is Rosita. Or if you saw the movie Coco. You may be familiar with the main character whose name was Miguel. Sometimes you may hear them refer to him as Miguelito. And again, it doesn’t mean his name is Miguelito it’s sort of a nickname or a term of endearment in the column that probably because he’s a young boy in the family. So he’s little Miguel, so they call him Miguelito. Now let’s move on to hack number two.


    This is actually how to express that I must or I need to do something. Now, there is a line in the first verse of the Song where Luis Fonsi actually says, very simple line, which you probably were able to understand even if you couldn’t understand the entire song. He says, “Tengo que bailar contigo hoy.” So “I have to dance with you today.” Now when he says that “tengo que”, that actually means that “I must” or “I have to.” He’s saying: I have to dance with you. I’m almost obligated to do this, right? So obviously in the song he’s being pretty flirty, but you can use this in everyday language. Now, if you’re a beginner, you’re probably familiar with the word “tengo,” which means “I have.” So I could say “Tengo una foto.” So I have a photograph or a picture, or I could say “Tengo tres dolares.” “I have $3.”


    So you can use the word “tengo”, which just means “I have” in several ways. But once you add the word “que” after it and it becomes an entire phrase “tengo que” then I’m actually expressing the need to do something or the obligation–I have to, for example, “Tengo que ir al trabajo.” “I have to go to work” or “Tengo que comer.”l I have to eat. So there’s a lot of ways that you can use “Tengo que” to express obligation. Now there’s a flip side that as well if you want to say that you don’t have to do something, you can say “No tengo que.” So for example, “I don’t have to go to school today,” which is something every school-aged child wants to be able to say every day. “No tengo que ir a la escuela.” So “I don’t have to go to school.” “No tengo que…”


    So those are two ways that you can use the phrase “tengo que” and they’re very, very useful in day-to-day conversation. Now, on to a hack number three, now in this one, we’ll talk about how some of the verbs are used in the song Despacito.” So in this case we’re going to take a look at a few things again, from the first verse, you’ll hear the word “mirándote,” which is “looking at you,” and you’ll also hear “llamándome”, which is “calling me.” I’m going to have this in the show notes so you can see exactly how they’re spelled. I’m not going to get into the specifics where to place accent marks and all that, but for now, just pay attention to which syllable is stressed in these words. Now, unless you’re looking at it, you may not even have known that that is all one word.


    It actually may sound like it’s two or three words, but when it’s written, it’s actually all one word and I’ll explain why. So very briefly, ‘mirando’, which is “looking at” and “llamando,” which is “calling,” those are what’s called the gerund in grammar terms, and that basically means an action that’s in progress. So in English, that’s the “-ing” ending. So doing, making, calling, thinking those are all gerunds in English, so in Spanish, instead of an “-ing”ending, you’ll often hear the ending A – N – D – O, which is “-ando”, or you’ll hear the ending I – E – N – D – O “-iendo.” Those are the gerund endings for Spanish verbs. So we actually hear an example of an “-ar” verb, so we hear “mirando”, and the same thing with the verb “llamar” to call, we hear “llamando”. So that’s a simple way to know that you’re hearing a gerund or an action that is currently in progress.


    So anytime you hear a word that ends in “-ando” or “iendo” that is nine times out of 10 going to be a gerund. So even if you don’t know the exact verb, meaning you’ll know that someone is talking about an action in progress. There are other examples later in the song where you will hear “pensando” (thinking) and some other verbs as well, but I want to talk a little bit about how it is that we added something onto the end of these words. Okay? So it’s not just “mirando,” it’s “mirándote.” All right, so what does that “te”? So I mentioned earlier that “mirándote” actually means “looking at you,” so that “te” actually means “at you,” and I’m not going to get too far into the grammar on this one, but just suffice it to say that when you hear “te” it’s referring to “you.” Okay? So in this case “looking at you” is “mirándote” and in Spanish you can go ahead and just tack that onto the end of a verb (in the gerund form) and say instead of just saying “mirando,” you can say “mirándote.”


    So for example, if I wanted to say “I am calling you,” I could say “Estoy llamándote.” Now in the second example where he says “llamándome,” he’s saying “you are calling me.” So that “me” at the end is actually spelled just like me in English M – E. But you pronounce it “meh,” so it’s “llamándome,” “calling me.” So just like we’re able to add “te” at the end of of a gerund we can also add “me.” So I could say “you are looking at me.” “Tú estás mirándome.” So “you are looking at me” instead of looking at you (mirándote). “Looking at me” is “mirándome.”


    “Estás,” which is “you are” – “llamándome,” “you are calling me.” Okay, so there’s different ways you can use that as well with the gerund in Spanish. So there are other things that you can do with that. I’m not going to again, get deeper into it.


    We’re just going to pull a few things from the song that we can use and I do have a more in depth the breakdown of the song and all the lyrics. I will include a link in the show notes so that you can actually access and download the lyrics to the song and I have a little bit more in depth lesson where I show you some additional examples of how you can use these three Spanish hacks and learn from the song. So that’s the action that you can take from this episode. Go ahead and download the lyrics of the song and also think about some ways that you can use the three hacks that we just reviewed in this episode in your next Spanish conversation. So again, in review, number one was the diminutive in Spanish. So the word best “despacito” is a diminutive for it, “despacito.” The second thing we looked at was “tengo que,” I have to. So being able to express need or obligation to do something. And the third hack that we talked about that you would have never expected to learn from the song Despacito is using the gerund in Spanish or describing an action in progress, and for a little bonus, we talked about how we could add “me” or “te” to the end of the gerund to really describe who the action is being done to.


    So that’s it for this episode of Learn Spanish Con Salsa. I hope that you were able to learn something new. Gracias por escuchar, thank you for listening. I look forward to continuing to be a part of your journey from beginner to bilingual. Adios.


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