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Five Things You Should Know About Spanish Speaking Cultures

The Focus of This Lesson Is Five Things You Should Know about Spanish-speaking Cultures.

1. The Kiss and the Handshake

  • In the Spanish-speaking world, women are always greeted with a kiss, both as a hello and as a good-bye. Sometimes this kiss is a peck on the check, but many times, it’s that kiss where you touch cheeks and kiss the air.
  • In general, you reach left for the first kiss; that is, it’s your right cheek that gets kissed first.
  • Men usually greet each other with a handshake rather than a kiss, both as a hello and a good-bye.

2. La hora latina

  • It is a widely held belief that Spanish-speakers always arrive late to events, even among Spanish speakers themselves. People often refer to this as la hora latina, meaning “Latino time.”
  • much of the Spanish-speaking world is developing; transportation and communication are not as reliable as in more developed countries. Delays are often unavoidable.
  • because everyone in the society is subject to the same delays, people in Spanish-speaking cultures tend to be forgiving about lateness.
  • There are certainly many Spanish speakers who view punctuality as a form of respect and who strive to be punctual in their daily lives.

3. Lunch Time

  • In the Spanish-speaking world, the midday meal is often the main meal of the day, every day of the week.
  • There is regional variation as to what Spanish speakers call this meal, but more often than not, they refer to it simply as la comida, meaning “the meal.”
  • The comida is often followed by la siesta, a customary mid-afternoon nap, which serves to both refresh people after a big meal as well as to keep people out of the sun during what is usually the hottest time of the day.

4. Regional Accents

  • Like every major language, Spanish has regional varieties that have arisen over the generations due to patterns of migration and isolation. In Latin America, people often label regional varieties costeño or serrano.
  1. The costeño dialects are characterized by the aspiration of syllables that end in -s. For example, someone speaking a costeño variety might say Hola, ¿cómo estás? [ola, komo ehtah].
  2. Serrano dialects tend to be found in mountainous regions, and their pronunciation of syllables that end in -s reflects a more conservative dialect of Madrid.

5. Flirting and Sexual Harassment

  • Culturally speaking, Spanish speakers tend to touch each other casually more than in North American, Northern European, or Asian cultures.
  • Compared to North Americans, Spanish speakers seem to have a more tolerant attitude toward unsolicited flirting, finding it flattering or humorous rather than threatening or disgusting.