Official Spanish dictionary adds bagel, pretzel, van

October 16, 2012

For a long time, Spanish-speakers struggled to describe “bagels” or “pretzels” to those who didn’t know the English word. Now, the task of describing the bread-based snacks just got easier.

The official Royal Spanish Academy dictionary will include several new “estadounidismos,” or words commonly spoken by Spanish speakers in the United States, according to El País.

The next edition of the dictionary will have the English terms bagel, pretzel, van, Latino, paralegal, email and phishing. (Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “phishing” as a scam by which an email user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information.)

Also, several Spanish cognates of English words will be added to the dictionary, including: billón (billion), trillón (trillion), rentar (rent), agencia (agency), podiatría (podiatry), departmento (department, as in State Department) and parada (parade).

With more than 55 million Hispanics living in the U.S., the academy thought it was important to recognize these words in the dictionry, Gerardo Piña-Rosales, president of the North American Academy of Spanish Language, told El País.

“They are Spanish terms that reflect the national character [in reference to the U.S.],” Piña-Rosales said. “These are forms of the language that Spanish speakers in the U.S. have become accustomed to.”

Piña-Rosales said it’s important to remember there exists a separate Spanish subculture in the U.S., just as there is in Mexico or Argentina. In Spain, if you say the word departamento instead of ministerio (ministry), nobody will know what that means. But in the U.S., departamento is a commonplace Spanish word, he said.

The Royal Spanish Academy tries to keep its finger on the pulse of contemporary language. In August, the academy decided to add the words tuitear (Twitter), tuit (tweet) and tuitero (Twitter user) to the dictionary – referencing the ubiquitous social media site, Twitter. Words like blog, libro electrónico (e-book) and tableta (tablet, as in electronic devices like the iPad) already are in the dictionary.

As El País stated in its article, soon phrases that seem like a bad translation of English will be accurate Spanish, such as: “He enviado un ‘email’ con una ‘aplicación’ para ‘rentar’ un piso frente a la tienda de ‘bagels’”.

Translation: “I sent an email with an application to rent a floor in front of the bagel shop.”

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