Cerdo y Chancho: Soda and Pop

Alissa Welker
January 16, 2015

As I am becoming accustomed to life in Quito, my eyes are being opened to the richness and diversity of the Spanish language. In the United States different parts of the country use different words such as soda versus pop, or tennis shoes versus sneakers; however these small differences in words and phrases are nothing in comparison to the diversity of the Spanish language. In Spanish speaking countries differences in phrases are numerous. I was talking to my host dad about this phenomenon in the Spanish language today and he said that once they had a host student who said that she had taken Spanish for a long time, yet felt that the Spanish that was being spoken in Ecuador wasn’t Spanish at all. The vocabulary that is learned in any language course in a classroom is consequently very different depending on which country you are visiting. This is not to scare anyone from studying abroad in a Spanish speaking country; rather I think it is que chévere [an Ecuadorian word for cool] of the Spanish language.

Most of my time learning Spanish has been through professors that studied in Spain and from studying in Spain myself. Therefore, my vocabulary mainly consists of words that I learned in the classroom and the little slang that I did know before studying abroad was unique to Spain. I am quickly learning that unlike Spanish in Spain, the word vale [okay] is not every other word out of people’s mouth. In fact, if I say vale here many Ecuadorians would not even know what I am saying. Hopefully by the end of my time here my use of the word vale will be replaced by common Ecuadorian phrases such as Qué Chevere and Qué Bestia. [The direct translation for bestia is beast but that is not what it means in the context of this phrase. There really is no translation for bestia but it can be used to react to information that is good or bad depending on your tone of voice].

Overall, I am quickly falling in love with life in Ecuador, from the differences in Spanish language to the loving culture. Quito is a beautiful city situated in the mountains with a great amount of biodiversity in both its flora and fauna and its people. I am so excited to be spending the next five months here to continue to improve my Spanish and learn about myself and the beauty of life.

 [Title Translation: Cerdo means pork and chancho is the Ecuadorian word for pork.]

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Alissa Welker

<p>I am a junior Environmental Science Major with a Peace and Justice Concentration and Spanish minor at Villanova University. I love backpacking, traveling and new adventures. I am so excited to be spending the semester in Quito, Ecuador and I hope that these posts will help you experience the culture and beauty of life in South America through my eyes.</p>

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