Episode 11: 7 Cuban Spanish Words You Didn’t Know

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Learn Spanish Con Salsa Podcast

Episode 11

7 Cuban Spanish Words and You Didn’t Know

Like most dialects of Spanish from the Caribbean, Cuban Spanish is different than other forms of the Spanish language.  Cubans have a unique accent and also words and expressions that are unique to the island.  In this episode, you’ll learn 7 Cuban Spanish words and expressions from a dialogue between native Spanish speakers from Cuba.  So before you plan a trip to Havana, listen to this episode and learn vocabulary from greetings to popular dishes.

Transcript

Time

Transcript

00:00

JACINTO: ¿Qué bolá?

ANA: ¡¿Qué tal Jacinto?! ¡Oye llegas tarde! ¡Quedamos en vernos a las 5 y ya van a ser las 6! ¿Qué te pasó?

JACINTO: ¡Vaya discúlpame esa Ana! Me enredé en la pincha con un cliente que llegó a última hora, ¡pero no te preocupes que los socios me llamaron y apenas y acaban de llegar al malecón!

ANA: ¡Bueno vamos a movernos ya! Que después tengo que coger un bicitaxi e irme a casa de Anita y no quiero que se me haga tarde!

JACINTO: ¡Mira tú! No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita.

00:26

Wow. Now, did you catch all that? My guess is probably no, but not to worry. We'll break down everything you just heard and also give you some insight on how to understand one of the most difficult dialects of Spanish. Vamos a empezar.

00:50

Intro

01:18

Hola oyentes, bienvenidos. Welcome to episode 11 of the Learn Spanish Con Salsa podcast. Now you're probably wondering what dialect of Spanish you heard at the beginning of this episode and exactly what were they saying. If you're a beginner, that was probably really hard to follow and even if you're intermediate level, it was still probably difficult to catch every single word that was said and that's because some of the words in the conversation were very specific to one region of Spanish speakers in the Caribbean. In this episode we're going to visit the island of Cuba, and we're going to explore some vocabulary that's very unique to the island of Cuba. Now if didn't catch the last episode. Go back and check out episode 10 where we talked about five places that you absolutely must visit if you went to experience the real Cuba.

02:13

Like most dialects of Spanish from the Caribbean, Cuban Spanish is a bit different than other forms of Spanish. Many people may notice it when you hear someone from Cuba speaking Spanish, they have a little bit of an accent and it's very particular to the island. Now, there are also different accents in different regions of Cuba, just like in the United States where we have an accent from the north, one from the south, one from the Midwest, etc. Cuba is no different, so you will find some variation in accent even among the Cubans. Cuba is also unique in that it has a huge expat population. There are many people who have left the island over the years for various reasons and live all over the world. So as I mentioned in previous episodes, I really don't believe that there's a such thing as neutral Spanish. Everyone has a culture, a background, a place that they come from and that heavily influences the way they speak and their vocabulary.

03:15

So the words I'm about to share with you are really only used in Cuba, but as I mentioned earlier, many Cubans have moved to different parts of the world. So you may run into a pretty large community of Cubans even outside of Cuba. Most people think about Miami in Florida in the United States has a very large Cuban population and has for years. But that's not the only place that Cubans live, even though it's what most people think about. You will find populations of Cubans in other countries and other cities within the United States. So it's good to know a little bit about the Spanish that's spoken in Cuba. So let's get into it. I'm going to share with you seven Cuban Spanish words you didn't know, but I assure you by the end of today's episode you will know them all. So let's get to it.

04:03

Now since I'm not from Cuba, I've actually enlisted the help of some native Spanish speakers that are from the area. So those are the voices you will be hearing throughout today's episode. So first I'll let you listen to the audio of a Cuban Spanish speaker is saying one of the terms and then I will explain to you the meaning. Let's get to the first term.

04:26

Asere.

04:26

So this first word “asera” means something like friend or buddy. It's a term of endearment that's usually used between male friends. When I was in Havana, I heard this all the time in the street. People greeting each other “asere, asere.” So it is a quintessential Cuban word and it's something that if you hear it, you know that the person that's speaking is most likely from Cuba.

04:51

Now let's listen to the second word: ¿Qué bolá?

04:54

So this is actually a phrase. “¿Qué bolá?” means “what's up” or “what's new.” So it's another way of saying, ¿Qué pasa? ¿Como estás?, but again, this is something that you'll really only hear in Cuba. Now when used together as a phrase, ¿Qué bolá? means “what's up”, but if you just hear the word “bola” by itself, it has a little bit of a different meaning. So I'm gonna let you listen to this example of the word use in context and I'm going to see if you can guess what it means and then I'll go ahead and give you the answer. Now. I'm going to play this at regular speed first and I'll slow it down just a little bit so that you can hear it a little better. So I'm gonna play it twice. So go ahead and take a listen and see if you can figure out what this word means.

05:45

Oye, espera que te cuente esta bola. (slowly) Oye, espera que te cuente esta bola.

05:52

Okay, so if you didn't catch that, he said, “Oye, espera que te cuente esta bola.” So that translates to, “Hey, wait until you hear this.” So in this case, bola is short for rumor or gossip or the word on the street. So now that gives a little bit of context to the prior phrase, ¿Qué bolá? because that means sort of what's the word on the street or what's the news? So that was número tres, number three.

06:26

Now let's move on to word number four. Yuma. (slowly) Yuma.

06:33

Alright now, let's listen to it in context and let's see if you can guess what it means. And once again, I'm gonna play it more than once, so you really get a chance to hear. Okay.

06:48

Toda mi familia se ha ido pa' La Yuma. (slowly). Toda mi familia se ha ido pa' La Yuma.

06:51

Did you catch that? All right. So what he said is “Toda mi familia se ha ido pa' La Yuma.” So that translates to all of my family has left for La Yuma. And if you haven't guessed what that means, La Yuma is short for Los Estados Unidos or the United States of America. So it's a way, not only to say the US, but it's also a term that you used to refer to a foreigner that's from the US. So in that way, it's similar to the term Gringo, but this one is very specific again to Cuba.

07:32

Now let's listen to número cinco, phrase number five: Moros y cristianos. (slowly) Moros y cristianos.

07:43

Now this phrase is a little bit different. I'm going to have to explain this one. So “oros y cristianos” translates to Moors and Christians. Now Christians is self explanatory, but I'm going to explain a little bit about the Moors. Now this is actually spelled capital M o o r s and it refers to a group of North African Muslims that actually occupied Spain in the 700s. So this is a little known fact about Spanish history. Most people know about the Spanish conquistadors, the conquerors who went throughout the world and occupied many different places, including many places in Latin America and Cuba. But most people don't know that there was a period in history that the Spanish were actually occupied by this group of Muslim warriors from northern Africa. So I'm going to put a link in the show notes. So if you're interested to read up on the history of the Moors, but back to this term, Moors and Christians, what does that refer to?

08:43

So many terms in Latin America, this is just another way to say rice and beans and there's many different ways to say rice and beans in Latin America. Many different dishes that are based with rice and beans, but in this case it's referring to black beans and white rice. So I guess it has something to do with the fact that the Moore's were Africans and the Christians in this case were from Europe. So I guess the idea is that black beans next to white rice looks a little bit like moros y cristianos.

09:14

Let's move on to número seis, number six. So I'm going to do something a little different with this one. I'm actually going to play the clip for you so you can hear it used in context and I'm going to see if you can guess what it means now. Now I'll play it a few times again so you can hear it a little bit slower to see if you can catch everything that he's saying. And then I'll come back and explain exactly what he said. So let's see if you can guess the meaning of “guateque.”

09:45

¡Mira tú! No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita. (slowly) ¡Mira tú! No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita.

09:51

So did you catch that? He said, “No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita.” So “I didn't know that the “guateque” was at Anita's house.” So if you haven't guessed is another word for fiesta or party. So let's listen to it one more time: “¡Mira tú! No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita.”

10:20

Now we've come to the end of the list. This is número siete, number seven. This is the last Cuban Spanish word we will cover in this episode. And this one is pretty short so you should be able to understand. So I'll play it a few times and then I'll come back and talk about the Cuban Spanish word in this clip.

10:45

Saliendo pa'l malecón. (slowly) Saliendo pa'l malecón.

10:45

Okay. So that one should have been a little bit easier. He said, “Saliendo pa'l malecón,” this translates to “going to” or “on our way to the pier.” So. And that's pier, p i e r like a piar by the water, not p e e r. So my cone in Spanish in general just translates to pier. However, in Cuba it has a very specific meaning. El Malecón is actually a very famous pier in the city of Havana. A lot of the most famous hotels in Cuba are along the malecón and it's a place where people go to hang out to parties for different holidays.

11:26

In Cuba it's a very popular place to hang out. So that is the malecón. In the show notes, I'll actually link to a picture of the malecón from my trip to Cuba so you can have an idea of what it looks like.

11:38

So that is it for the seven Cuban Spanish words you didn't know and now you know. So just a brief review.

  1. Número Uno was “asere“, which is friend or buddy used between men;
  2. ¿Qué bolá?, which is a greeting that means “what's up” or “what's new.”;
  3. bola, which means rumor or gossip;
  4. Yuma, which is the United States, or a person from North America;
  5. Moros y cristianos, which refers to black beans and rice,
  6. guateque, which is a party;
  7. and finally, El Malecón, which is the famous pier in the city of Havana.

So let's listen to that dialogue that we heard at the beginning of the show and let's slow it down to see if maybe we can understand a little bit more of what's being said:

12:36

JACINTO: ¿Qué bolá?

ANA: ¡¿Qué tal Jacinto?! ¡Oye llegas tarde! ¡Quedamos en vernos a las 5 y ya van a ser las 6! ¿Qué te pasó?

 JACINTO: ¡Vaya discúlpame esa Ana! Me enredé en la pincha con un cliente que llegó a última hora, ¡pero no te preocupes que los socios me llamaron y apenas y acaban de llegar al malecón!

ANA: ¡Bueno vamos a movernos ya! Que después tengo que coger un bicitaxi e irme a casa de Anita y no quiero que se me haga tarde!

JACINTO: ¡Mira tú! No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita.

12:59

Now let's listen to it with the English translation.

13:02

¿Qué bolá?

13:04

What's up?

13:06

¡¿Qué tal Jacinto?! ¡Oye llegas tarde! ¡Quedamos en vernos a las 5 y ya van a ser las 6! ¿Qué te pasó?

13:12

Hey, Jacinto, you're late. We were meeting at five and it's six already. What happened to you?

13:19

¡Vaya discúlpame esa Ana! Me enredé en la pincha con un cliente que llegó a última hora, ¡pero no te preocupes que los socios me llamaron y apenas y acaban de llegar al malecón!

13:22

I'm sorry for that one Ana. I got stuck at work with a last minute client, but don't worry. The guys called me and they got to the pier just now.

13:39

¡Bueno vamos a movernos ya! Que después tengo que coger un bicitaxi e irme a casa de Anita y no quiero que se me haga tarde!

13:44

Well let's move now. I have to take a bici taxi to go to. Anita's and I don't want to get there late.

13:57

¡Mira tú! No sabía que el guateque era en casa de Anita's.

13:57

Well, I didn't know the party was going to be at Anita.

14:05

So hopefully you were able to notice some of the words that we've discussed in the dialogue. You heard “que bola” you also heard “guateque” and “malecón” in this dialogue. So there's one part that I know was really fast that I want to break down a little bit more just because I know it was really difficult to understand and this was the part where he said he got stuck at work with the last minute clients, but don't worry, the guys called me and they got to the pier just now. All right, so on that part it says “Me enredé en la pincha con un cliente que llegó a última hora, ¡pero no te preocupes que los socios me llamaron y apenas y acaban de llegar al malecón!” Okay, so definitely check out the show notes because you will be able to read the entire dialogue and hopefully will start to get used to this accent.

15:04

Now the Cuban Spanish dialect is definitely one of the more difficult to understand, but I guarantee you if you're able to understand the Cuban Spanish speakers, you will be able to understand almost anyone who speaks Spanish. So definitely check out the show notes, read through the dialogue and listen to it more than once so that you can train your ear to get used to the rhythm that Cubans speak Spanish. You're definitely not going to get this on the first try, so check out the show notes page, read through the dialogue as you listen and rinse and repeat.

15:35

I hope you've enjoyed this review of just a taste of Cuban Spanish. Now if you're interested in learning more Cuban Spanish, check out the show notes at learnspanishconsalsa.com/cubanspanish. There you'll find the show notes for today's episode with references to everything we mentioned and also an exclusive discount for podcast listeners.

15:59

So if you go to learnspanishconsalsa.com/cubanspanish, you'll be able to access a special coupon code with a 20 percent discount for the Cuban Spanish 101 bilingual phrasebook. Now this has over 100 phrases that are unique to Cuba, so if you are interested in learning more Cuban Spanish, definitely check out that offer. You'll be able to download the ebook and you'll also get audio of every single word so you can hear exactly how it's pronounced by a native Spanish speaker from Cuba. So you'll get access to that entire phrase book. You'll also be able to listen to each and every one of those phrases, and you'll also get several examples in context so you know exactly how each word is used and what it means. So that's my offer to you as a thank you for listening to our podcast. So that's learnspanishconsalsa.com/cubanspanish. So with that, I'm going to close out this episode of Learn Spanish Con Salsa. I hope in the few minutes that you spent listening today, you have learned something that takes you just one step closer from a Spanish beginner to bilingual. Hasta luego.

dccb Download Episode 11 Transcript

Malecón in Havana, Cuba
Malceon
Me at El Malecón in Havana

Links and Resources

Cuban Spanish 101 Bilingual Dictionary and Phrasebook

Cuban Spanish Book
E-Book and Paperback Available

Click Here to Get 20% Off

Sign up for the free trial of the Cuban Spanish 101 Audio Course @ http://www.cubanspanish101.com/freetrial


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