Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

JP: Five Things You Should Know About Spanish Speaking Cultures. My name is JP, and I’m here with Fernando.
Fernando: Hey everyone.
JP: So you’re going to tell us 5 things you should know about Spanish speaking societies before we go on a trip.
Fernando: Yep, absolutely.
JP: Ok, so these are cultural things, things that exist in our cultural blind spot. We might not know about them until we get there, and we’re confronted with something, and suddenly we’re like, “oh, I wish I had listened to a podcast where someone had told me about this.”
Fernando: And this is why we’re here.
JP: What’s the first one?
Fernando: First one, very important. Introductions. When greeting someone, in the Spanish speaking world, women are always greeted with a kiss, both as a hello and as a goodbye.
JP: So if you see a woman, and you want to say hello, you just plant one on her.
Fernando: Not necessarily; let’s hold on there, Casanova. A kiss can be a peck on the cheek, but for the most part, the kiss is where you touch cheeks and you kiss the air.
JP: We’ve all seen that on TV. So anytime you meet a woman, you’re going to kiss her like that; you’re going to touch cheeks and kiss the air. Every time? Even if it’s the first time you meet her? You don’t know each other…
Fernando: That’s a safe way to play it. It’s not too much, not at all.
JP: Ok, so is it just one kiss?
Fernando: It varies. In certain parts of Argentina, you’ll see two kisses; if you’re in Spain, you’ll see two kisses more often than not. Me? I do one kiss. I’m a one kiss guy.
JP: And this is whenever you meet women. So men kiss women, women kiss women… what if you meet a dude? big kiss?
Fernando: Usually not… unless it’s a familiar figure.
JP: So if it’s family, you can kiss another man.
Fernando: Yah, I’ll kiss my dad goodbye. I’ll kiss my uncle goodbye, or hello,
JP: And it’s a kiss like… touch cheeks and kiss the air, right?
Fernando: You can do that… either way; it’s more personal; there’s no negative connotation.
JP: What if it’s just a regular dude that you meet on the street?
Fernando: A handshake will suffice.
JP: Alright now are the handshakes the same as the American handshake? Do you want several shakes? Do you want a big hard grip?
Fernando: You want a firm handshake. You’ll see men give each other hugs; that’s another cultural attribute in greeting and saying goodbye.
JP: But that’s not for strangers…
Fernando: It’s not for strangers, no. No, that’s mostly reserved for close friends and family.
JP: So the kiss and the handshake; it’s a little bit different than in American society. Ok, what’s next?
Fernando: La hora latina.
JP: Hora latina, ok, this is where latinos are always late.
Fernando: It’s a widely held belief that Spanish speakers always arrive late to events, even among Spanish speakers themselves. La hora latina… Latino time! So lack of punctuality is often perceived by others as a lack of respect, which is not the case, nor lack of discipline. Most people who deal with someone from a Spanish speaking culture have anecdotes of Spanish speakers who are consistently late to work, late for meeting friends, even late to their own wedding.
JP: So everyone is late.
Fernando: But there are cultural factors that may explain this. Delays are unavoidable; as a result, Spanish speakers have a tendency to pack their schedules less tightly to allow for some flexability.
JP: Yah, I know this about latinos.
Fernando: and because everyone in the Spanish speaking society is subject to the same delays, people in Spanish speaking cultures tend to be forgiving about lateness.
JP: So there is some basis to “la hora latina.”
Fernando: Yes, it is a cultural stereotype. There are certainly many Spanish speakers who view punctuality as a form of respect, and who strive to be punctual in their daily lives.
JP: ok, you’re raising your hand…
Fernando: I’m trying to include myself in that group.
JP: Yah, I know this about your family. You’re always on time. You were on time today!
Fernando: I was!
JP: Ok, so we’ve got the kiss and the handshake, we’ve got la hora latina; what are we going to talk about next?
Fernando: Lunch time. In the Spanish speaking world, the midday meal is the main meal of the day. There are regional variations of course, as to what this meal Is called, but more often than not it’s referred to simply as “la comida.”
JP: “La comida” means “the meal.”
Fernando: This meal may begin as late as two in the afternoon, which explains why many places have a late morning snack.
JP: So obviously you have breakfast in the morning, and then later in the morning there’s “almuerzo,” and then later in the afternoon there’s “la comida.” and then after that’s dinner. That’s four meals!
Fernando: Traditionally, shops and offices close, and people enjoy their comida at home with family. We’re talking two-hour lunch breaks.
JP: Are they eating for two hours?
Fernando: No, here’s where la siesta comes in; they are resting.
JP: Ok, la siesta, this is the after lunch nap.
Fernando: Midday/afternoon nap. It serves to both refresh, after a big meal, as well as to keep people out of the sun during what is usually the hottest time of day.
JP: Ok, what’s the next topic?
Fernando: Acentos.
JP: Ok, so we’re going to talk about regional dialects.
Fernando: Latin American dialects are often labeled costeño or serrano.
JP: We’ve talked about this in other podcasts. The serrano accents are the ones where you pronounce all the letters. In the standard Mexican accent, you pronounce all the /s/; the same thing in Northern Spain, you pronounce those /s/ too.
Fernando: So a serrano might say “Hola, ¿cómo estas?,” and a costeño might say [ola, komo ehtah]. So they’ll drop the /s/, you won’t hear it as often.
JP: That’s the main feature of the costeño dialect, is that final /s/, or when the /s/ is at the end of a syllable.
Fernando: To use your word, the “aspiration.”
JP: So this is a big important tip if somebody’s going to go traveling in the Latin American world, right? You should know that Spanish is not exactly the same wherever you go.
Fernando: No, it isn’t. Serrano dialects tend to be found in mountainous regions. Hence the word “serrano.”
JP: Ok, “serrano” refers to mountains. And then “costeño” refers to the coast. So the places that speak serrano dialects are Mexico City, Bogotá, Guatemala City… these mountain cities. Now La Habana and Buenos Aires, these cities that are on the coast, they speak costeño dialects. Now do you have big problems understanding people if they speak one dialect or the other? Obviously you speak a serrano dialect.
Fernando: No, I find it quite fascinating, actually. I’ve been exposed to people from different parts of Spanish speaking countries. It’s always a treat to listen to their accents and try to pinpoint where exactly they’re from.
JP: Now, Fernando, we’ve talked about the kiss and the handshake, hora latina, lunch time, regional accents… what is the fifth thing that people need to know when they’re traveling to a Spanish speaking country?
Fernando: The stereotype of the ‘latin lover.’ Basically men and women who are driven by and consumed with passion and desire.
JP: This is true? So whenever you travel to, for example, Guatemala, there’s going to be people consumed with passion and desire?
Fernando: To a certain extent. Spanish speakers tend to touch each other more casually than in North America, or northern European or in Asian countries. They’re more likely to be flirtatious in public, in the workplace, or in other places that other cultures may find inappropriate…. Compared to North Americans, Spanish speakers seem to have a more tolerant attitude towards unsolicited flirting, finding it flattering or humorous rather than threatening or disgusting.
JP: We’ve all heard stories of American girls who go to Spain or Latin America, and they say, “the men are always looking at me! They’re always talking to me! and they’re always….” Does this not happen to the Spanish women and the Latinas, the people that live there?
Fernando: Yes, it does. It happens to anyone, why should we discriminate?
JP: But how do the women handle it? Are they constantly disgusted?
Fernando: I don’t think they’re as much constantly disgusted as they are amused; they find it funny. It’s just a part of society, and you learn to live with it. Men aren’t trying to be aggressive in their flirtations, they’re just trying to compliment you.
JP: That’s true, whenever I speak to Latinas, there’s always compliments flying. It’s never just “hola, ¿cómo estás?” it’s “hola guapo, ¿cómo estás? ¡Qué bien se te ve! you look so good…
Fernando: Thank you JP!
JP: Ok, folks! Thank you for listening to this All About Spanish 8, these were the things you should know about Spanish speaking societies; we’ll be back in the next podcast with All About Spanish 9. For now it’s time to go. ¡Hasta luego!
Fernando: Bye!