Speaking Spanish is hard

A hilarious song about how hard it is to speak and understand Spanish. Sung in rapid-fire Spanish, of course.

TWO LINGUISTICALLY- AND MUSICALLY-TALENTED Colombian brothers, Juan Andrés and Nicolás Ospina, team up in an acoustic duet about how hard it it to speak and understand Spanish, even for native Spanish speakers. They sing about the words for strawberry (can be fresa, or frutilla), and the other meanings of those words, and how you can get yourself in trouble by drawing parallels or even using the wrong word in the wrong country. An innocent word drop in one Spanish-speaking country can be fighting words in another.

Another great break down is when they talk about how to pronounce the English word eyes, which can sound like “ice” when pronounced by a Spanish speaker, which in turn is hielo, which, they say, sounds like “yellow.”

The song is sung in rapidito Spanish, switching from “gringo accent” — with hard t’s and d’s, and without rolling the r’s — to regional accents, and the music goes from simple strumming and twangy guitar to flamenco and from beat boxing to hand percussion. There’s a Garfunkel and Oates-like quality about this duo, mainly how fast and homegrown their patter is. If you’ve ever thought about how hard it is to speak Spanish (even for a native speaker), you’ll get a big kick out of their video. Fans are clamoring for the musicians to provide the lyrics, and I’ve transcribed (and translated) the chorus below. Catch up with the musicians Juan Andrés and Nicolás on Facebook.

    Que difícil es hablar el español
    Por que todo lo que dices tiene otra definición
    Que dificil es entender el español
    Si lo aprendes, no te muevas de región

    Que difícil es hablar el español
    Por que todo lo que dices tiene otra definición
    Que dificil es entender el español
    Yo ya me doy por vencido, para mi país me voy

    It is so difficult to speak Spanish
    Because everything you say means something else as well
    It is so difficult to understand Spanish
    If you ever learn it, stay where you are

    It is so difficult to speak Spanish
    Because everything you say means something else as well
    It is so difficult to understand Spanish
    I myself have given up, I’m going back to my country

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000177709875 Octavio Ba Fo

    Orales!! Que chido!!! JAjajaja.

  • valkirie

    I love it, and it is so true. As a native Spanish speaker, I find it difficult to follow some of the colloquialism of some of the Spanish speaking countries. I try to just stick to the basic Spanish that everyone knows. Less chances of getting slapped for saying the wrong thing. Que dificil es hablar el Espanol!

    • Eileen

       And as a non-native speaker, I often don’t know the “standard” versions, so I just speak, and when I see someone suddenly change their facial expression, I assume I’ve transgressed in some way.  I speak Chileno, not Castellano, de hecho!

  • http://espanolactual.com/ Vanessa

    What is the worst thing that could happen to a teacher? To not be able to answer a student’s question of course! As a spanish teacher my self this has happen to me a lot!!! Most of my students listen  latin music and are coming to me with a tone of vocabulary questions and i have to answer ” No lo sé” . I used to feel bad about it, now i can show them this great video!!!

    • JaredRomey

      This video’s come out of the woodwork this week.  This is the third time I’ve had it presented to me this week.  It’s hilarious.  Really well done.

      Vanessa, I completely agree.  Nobody ever tells people that Spanish has such a varied vocabulary across countries that people from one country may not understand other native Spanish speakers from another.  So, as you said, they think it’s strange that you say you are fluent in Spanish and yet don’t understand some random words.

      The best example I use is:

      chiringa, papalote, volantin, barrilete, cometa, and pandorga

      All of those mean KITE and I guarantee most native speakers don’t know what several of those words are.

      It’s a fascinating language.

      • Guest

        True.  Only word  I know from that list is papalote.  Well and cometa, but to me that’s comet as in astronomy, not a kite.

  • http://twitter.com/marmalade marmalade

    Well. I lasted about 1:32 before getting completely lost. 

  • Mmmlktg

    It’s so true! I’m a native speaker (from Nicaragua) and I’ve always said the exact same thing about Spanish, there are just so many varieties, even within countries there are insane varieties! It’s always fun to hear new words though, I love it!

  • Felix1411

    Well…. the differences of certain words are not only visible in different countries…. for example in colombia the word “arrecho” in a  region could mean pissed off, in other region means straight and in the coast means horny….. It´s even hard for people from the same country understand each other… But always exists a standard language like the spanish spoken on tv… good luck trying to understand spanish

  • Anonymous

    sobre todo si uds supieran lo difícil que es aprender ingles, sus millones de verbos irregulares y tratar de memorizarlos. es muy difícil.

  • Lexi Fishbaugh

    hahaha I laughed a lot.

  • Lexi Fishbaugh

    hahaha I laughed a lot.

    • Begoña Alberdi

      so funny,gotta share!

  • Lexi Fishbaugh

    hahaha I laughed a lot.