English brands: a user’s guide

Posted on May 27th, 2010 by Theresa

No matter how well you speak Spanish there will always be certain words and phrases in the middle of a conversation that will leave you totally flummoxed. ‘Escotbreetay’? What’s on earth is that? And should you need to ask for said ‘escotbreetay’ without Spanglifying – or Andaluzifying – your pronunciation, you haven’t got a chance. Additions to the list are welcomed.

Scotch-Brite  –  EscotBREEtay. Synonymous in Spain for any kind of scouring pad.

Locktite –  LokTEEtay

Colgate –  ColGAtay

Vick’s Vapour Rub –  BikbapoRUB (a lop-bam-boom). (Check out my particular no comprendo experience with everyone’s favourite chesty cold product in the B chapter of the book)

Fairy –  FYree

Levi’s  –  LEBiz

Hall’s throat sweets –   Hals so that it rhymes with gals not balls

Dunnes Store – DOOnez esTORay

You Tube –  Yoo Toobay

Google –  Googlay

Facebook  –  FAYbuh (in Andalucía, at any rate)

Bruce Springsteen – Brooh Ehprihtih (ditto)

Werther’s (you know the sweets) – I  just give up on this one

And I’m not mocking. You should see what the Brits do with Nurhuh, Fwen -with a  hard g – girola and Benal madEENa. Mm, and when I was a kid I had a cool cartoon book about this bumbling knight who went by the name of Don Quicksote…

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14 Responses to “English brands: a user’s guide”

  1. Peter Harvey Says:

    I once had a student who told me that he worked for Fee-ray-stow-nay. He was stunned when I told him it was pronounced Firestone.

    Another student worked for Iberia (1980s). He insisted that British European Airways still existed. I insisted that it didn’t. ‘But’ he said ‘every day I get a phone call from Helena de BEA.’ No, what he got was a call from Helena at B-A, who was pronouncing the two letters separately in Spanish.

    I amazed a class just a few weeks after I arrived in Spain by denying that I had ever heard of an airline called Tooer. They wrote it down. It was TWA.

    But it’s not just English names. One of my very first students told me that she was from a place called Vwoy. It turned out that she was from Valladolid.

    Another gorgeous young woman in the same class looked me straight in the eye when I asked her for her name and said ‘I am Lolly’.

  2. Theresa Says:

    Love it! Am being dim, though; don’t get Vwoy – fast pron of Valladolid.
    Yesterday in my class I told my students the name of my village: Macharaviaya. They are 12-13. There was no way they could pronounce it – copying my not-perfect pron!

  3. Peter Harvey Says:

    It wasn’t so much a fast pronunciation but I was very new in Spain and she had a very soft voice. I was unprepared for the V coming out as a bilabial fricative (lips not touching teeth), sounding like ‘vw’, which doesn’t exist in English and is part of the Spanish b/v problem. Then there was the mush of the ll and two d’s, with another l, all in the name of a town that I’d never heard of. Now I would handle it easily I suppose.

  4. Jane Harvey Says:

    Then there’s worth-ester-SHE-ray sauce.

  5. Theresa Says:

    Now that is a mouthful! Reminds of the pronunciation of McDonalds in Japan: Ma-ku-do-na-ru-do. ..

  6. Sandra Méneaud Says:

    I have a piece of furniture from the 50s or 60s , which is a record player and radio combined. I was given it by a Spanish family who always called it a `picú´. I thought this was the word for a combination of radio and record player and was surprised when someone told me that `picú´was an English word. It´s the Spanish pronunciation of `pick up´, the stylus on the arm of the record player.
    A woman from the Canary Islands told me that in Tenerife they have a lot of `kinkeiwei´ potatoes, or in English, King Edward´s potatoes.
    My Spanish friend always thought the word for `cement´ in Spanish was `polan´, since that how everyone referred to the cement which came from the local Portland Company cement factory.

  7. Sandra Méneaud Says:

    Just remembered also :

    Yonbainey – John Wayne

    Flan sin nata – Frank Sinatra

  8. Theresa Says:

    Had never heard of the picú. Love it! Polan is brilliant of course – and reminds me of where I grew up: Rugby (where there is a massive Portland Centemt factory). Oh yes, make mine a flan sin nata every time.

  9. Valerie Says:

    @ Sandra: ha ha ha! Love them!

  10. Zophya Says:

    I’m very impressed on how spaniards pronounce so badly most of english words. Such as:

    U2 – I come from Mexico and we’ve always said it as in english, but here they literally translate “u-dos”. The same happens with ACDC.

    And what about “iceberg”!?!? If they would like to say it properly, they would say “glaciar” rather than “i-seberg”!!!!!

    Trident commercials are also a must!! No wonder why they are sooo bad at languages, you can see it on TV. That’s the education they get on how spelling is here in Spain.

    PS. So far, in my opinion, Frank Sinatra (Flan sin nata) is the winner!

  11. Theresa Says:

    H yes, ee-the-ber-gay as they say here! It washes off on you, though. I think of R-E-M as REM (one word) now. And I once embarrassed myself with English-living-in-England friends by talking about Harvey Kettle, rather than Kai-TELL! He’ll always be ‘Kettle’ to me!

  12. Dom Says:

    Any of the English speakers here say “Paree” rather than “Paris” when speaking English. The Spanish – when speaking Spanish – are *not* mispronouncing these words. After all, even Catalans will say “Barcelona” in the Castilian style when speaking that language.

  13. Sarah Clark de Garcés Says:

    Great article, and you may be interested in an article I wrote for my blog on a similar subject: http://sarahclarkgarces.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/chespir-in-love/
    My favourite particular example of Spanish pronunciation is Bogay, or Vogue to you and I…

  14. Theresa Says:

    THanks Sarah. Chespir is a hell of a lot easier to spell!

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