Let's examine two elements of Spanish that are absolutely indispensable if you want to speak like a native: Spanish slang and idioms. These are colorful words and expressions that cannot be translated literally (Imagine a Spanish speaker trying to make sense of English idioms like "he has a screw loose" or "it's a piece of cake!"). Yet, learning Spanish slang is the secret to achieving true fluency; it's the difference between "textbook" and "real-world" language. If you're not yet familiar with any Spanish slang words or idiomatic expressions, prepare yourself. You may be surprised at how fascinating-and fun-they can be to learn and to use. Best of all, learning about slang and idioms will add a whole, new dimension to your language skills! Your best bet to pick up these nuances is to pick up learn Spanish software.

This is a fun and interesting look at the Spanish language. The variety of vocabulary, sayings, idioms and Spanish slang that is spread across the Spanish-speaking world is amazing.

The most prominent difference between Castillian Spanish and Latin American Spanish is the use of "vosotros," the familiar form of the second person plural pronoun. This pronoun is replaced with "Ustedes," the formal form of the second person plural pronoun, in all Latin American countries where Spanish is spoken, in both formal and informal situations. Although it is only used informally, some countries in Latin America, namely Colombia and Argentina, substitute the colloquial pronoun "vos" for the singular second person pronoun.

Many anglicisms have entered into Spanish slang, such as the use of the verb "hangear," stemming from the English "to hang out," and the use of the English word "chance" instead of the Spanish word "oportunidad." You may agree that these words are a corruption of the Spanish language, but that aside, the origins of some of the anglicisms in Spanish slang can prove to be very interesting. In Panama, where the influence of the English language is strong, there is a town to "the right" of Panama City, across the Canal. It is called Arraijan. This name originated because the English-speaking population there referred to the area as "At right hand." When Panamanian people went into the Canal Zone (an area where the members of the U.S. military and people from the U.S. who worked for the Panama Canal Commission lived) to look for odd jobs, the English speakers would tell them in English, "'Come around' later and I'll see if there is anything for you to do." These odd jobs are now called "camaroncitos."

Another interesting twist to the Spanish slang is the inversion of the syllables in a word. If someone asks to you, "?Qu? sop?, mopri?," you might not know what to think! They are really saying, "?Qu? pas?, primo?" (What's going on, man?).

This brings up interesting detail in Spanish slang: the use of words like "primo" to address people. It is similar to the use of "man" or "dude" in English. The words "tipo/a" and "hombre" are used throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Here are some local words that you might hear: "gallo" means "guy" in Chile; "compa" is regularly used to address friends in the Caribbean and Central America; and "pana" is used to a address friends in the Dominican Republic.

You would be surprised at the variation in Spanish slang among Spanish-speaking countries. The word, "guagua," for example, means "baby" in Chile and "bus" in Cuba! A traffic jam is called "una cola" in Venezuela; in Chile it is called "un taco;" in Panama it is called "tranque;" and in Puerto Rico it is called "un tap'n."

There is always more to say about Spanish slang and the interesting facts and twists that make the language so intriguing. Stories and myths also have an effect on Spanish slang and are also varied across countries. Every culture has a "boogie man," and although it may seem that these stories and myths are only a part of local legend, they really do become a part of the family, the community, and each individual's life. More importantly, they are carried on from generation to generation as a verbal legacy. Children around the world hear these stories throughout their childhood. Parents and older siblings use this to their advantage by reminding the children to behave, or else... or just to scare the little ones late at night, in a dark room.

In Panama, the legend of the Tulivieja has become part of every Panamanian's childhood. Older siblings, especially, tell this story to the younger ones late at night in the dark. In this newsletter, you will read the story of the Tulivieja and learn how it has become a part of everyday life in Panama.

A long time ago, when the spirits lived among the mortals and were visible to them, one of the spirits incarnated itself into a beautiful girl. She became the pride of her town. A young boy fell in love with her and they produced a child. However, the beautiful girl, who was really a spirit, drowned the child to hide her true identity. It is said that God punished her for her sin by turning her into the Tulivieja.

From a beautiful girl, the spirit was turned into a horrible monster. She has a face full of holes, long and bristly hair, claws instead of hands, the body of a cat and the feet of a horse. But the corporal change was not the brunt of her punishment. She was condemned to look for her drowned child forever. She continues to search along the riverbanks endlessly and call for her child in a voice that sounds like screeching birds. When the moon is full in the middle of the sky, she transforms into her once beautiful self, and bathes in the rivers. However, at the slightest sound, she quickly becomes the monster again.

It is said that if you behave badly or are caught off guard, the Tulivieja will come at night and steal you right out of your bed. Remember that she is looking for a drowned child, and she just might make a mistake! Or, in revenge, she may steal a child away from an unsuspecting mother.

Jennifer Beattie, Spanish Editor,

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