Colombia: Speaking Spanish is Hard and There is a Song About It

Brothers Juan Andrés and Nicolás Ospina

Brothers Juan Andrés and Nicolás Ospina

The song and video Speaking Spanish is Hard has received close to 1.5 million views in six days: the response was so great, although unexpected, that brothers and musicians Juan Andres and Nicolás Ospina had to come up with a new website in response to interest and requests of other songs and lyrics.

The song reflects the issues most Spanish speakers, even native speakers, have when they move from one region to another, where words mean completely different things depending on where someone is. In the song, a foreigner decides to learn Spanish, and then faces the frustration of realizing that no matter how much he studies, he fails to understand basics whenever he moves from one place to the other.

For example, this part referring to the word pana, meaning a type of fabric but is also a way to call someone your friend, and the word porro which is a song rhythm as well as a way to call a marijuana cigarrette. The lyrics are from their site [es]:

En Venezuela compré con mi plata una camisa de pana,
Y mis amigos me decían ‘Ese es mi pana, ese es mi pana!’
Y en Colombia el porro es un ritmo alegre que se canta,
pero todos me miran mal cuando yo digo que me encanta.

In Venezuela I bought with my money a pana shirt,
and my friends would say “That is my pana, that is my pana
And in Colombia the porro is a very cheerful rhythm that is sung,
but they all look at me strangely when I say I love it.

Most of the song is a play of words based on the confusions that arise from words that sound the same but mean different concepts, or words that are completely different but mean the same things, and the different meanings that a same word can have:

En Chile polla es una apuesta colectiva, en cambio en España es el pene. Alguna gente en México al pene le dice pitillo, y pitillo en España es un cigarrillo y en Venezuela un cilindro de plástico para tomar las bebidas. El mismo cilindro en Bolivia se conoce como pajita, pero pajita en algunos países significa masturbacioncita, y masturbación en México puede decirse chaqueta, que a la vez es una especie de abrigo en Colombia, país en el que a propósito una gorra con visera es una cachucha, y cachucha en Argentina es una vagina, pero allá a la Vagina también le dicen Concha, y Conchudo en Colombia es alguien descarado o alguien fresco, y un fresco en Cuba es un irrespetuoso! YA ESTOY MAMADO!

In Chile polla is a collective bet, but in Spain it is penis. Some people in Mexico call the penis pitillo, and pitillo in Spain is cigarette and in Venezuela it is a plastic straw used to drink beverages. The same straw in Bolivia is known as pajita, but pajita in some countries means small masturbation, and masturbation in Mexico is called chaqueta, which at the same time is a type of coat in colombia, country which by the way, a cap with a visor is a cachucha, and cachucha in Argenita is a vagina, but there they also call the vagina a concha, and conchudo in Colombia is someone who is cheeky or fresco and fresco in Cuba is someone disrespectful. I AM MAMADO! [Ed.Note- fed up]

The video with captions in Spanish is up in Universal Subtitles, for people to pitch in and add their own translations. From the song's chorus:

Que difícil es hablar el español,
porque todo lo que dices tiene otra definición.
Que difícil entender el español,
yo ya me doy por vencido “para mi país me voy.”

It is very hard to speak Spanish,
because everything you say has another definition.
It is very hard to understand Spanish,
I give up already, “I'm going back to my country.”

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