By and large, we consider English to have a far richer vocabulary than Spanish. Spanish is more subtle, and often Spanish words have multiple meanings. Whereas English at times, can seem to have a never-ending array of words to choose from.
Despite this, there are a few examples of Spanish words that, amazingly, do not have any direct English translation. Certainly not as a single word.
Let’s investigate a few examples, not only as a curiosity, but to see this difference from the other side. 1. Estrenar
The verb estrenar
means: to wear for the first time
So, after you’ve been shopping for new clothes or shoes you may be excited to try these on for the first time, or break them in. In Spanish we have a specific verb for this very thing.
“¡Que bonito! los estrenaré esta noche” (How pretty! I will be wearing them for the first time tonight)
Whilst this might seem like quite a specific verb, and thus not very useful. You may see it used in other ways. For example, the noun form of estrenar
as a noun can mean premier
. So, if you are watching TV and they are premiering a new movie. You may see the word “estreno”
used. Of course, we are not wearing a film for the first time, but it is being shown for the first time. So the spirit of the verb is preserved. 2. Sobremesa
A combination of two words: sobre (about)
and mesa (table)
Combined, the word Sobremesa
means: “after-dinner conversation” or “table talk”. 3. Madrugar
Here we have another verb. Madrugar
meaning: to get up early
We have already seen the noun form madrugada
in the blog entry about days and months. There we learnt that madrugada
means “the early hours” or “the wee hours”. That time between very late at night and very early morning. Something we don’t have a specific word for in English. 4. Tutear
This is a very interesting verb, as it’s describes something that is conceptual to the Spanish language and not English. Tutear
means: “to address someone informally”
or “to address someone using tú”.
In Spanish we can address people either formally (using usted),
or informally (using tú
). Both usted
. 5. Tuerto
Let’s finish with an unusual word. Tuerto
means: “one-eyed person”
. Stereotypically a word that might describe a pirate!
“Un pirata tuerto con un parche” (A one-eyed pirate with a patch)
Tuerto can be used as a noun or an adjective. As you might expect, tuerto follows the rules of gender agreement, thus there are both masculine and feminine forms: el tuerto, la tuerta. Conclusion | En conclusión
Whilst it might seem a little premature as a beginner to learn words with no direct translation to English. We are not just learning obscure pieces of vocabulary today.
We’ve seen how even the most specific verb such as estrenar
, can be formed into a noun that has quite a different meaning and use. Certainly, beginning to understand how nouns are derived from verbs will help give any newcomer a good feeling for such words and more importantly why.
Remember: we're always learning, and reinforcing previous learnt knowledge. Everything from gender agreement to spotting nouns formations from verbs, will start to feel more and more natural as we continue to learn.