A few years ago, while living in Puerto Rico, I came across a copy of Jared Romey’s excellent guide to local lingo, Speaking Boricua. Romey, an American expat who lived in Chile and Argentina, arrived in Puerto Rico only to find that his fluent Spanish was “of no use.”

Having mastered the distinctions between the words for “straw,” “stapler, and “pen” — not to mention “popcorn,” “kite,” and “women’s panties”–in his former host countries, Romey set out to capture the unique words and phrases of Puerto Rican Spanish.

The result? Speaking Boricua and its follow-up, Speaking Phrases Boricua, two entertaining guides meant, as Romey told me in a recent interview, not to be used as a dictionary, but as “fun, humorous” books, “that a group of people can read in a social setting over beer, wine or shots of rum.”

“Salud!”

Romey, who is currently working on a local lingo guide to Argentina, is also developing a website where visitors can consult words to learn their meanings, as well as contribute local lingo. To order Romey’s books, visit his website.

And stay tuned to Pulse, where we’ll be sharing some of Romey’s tips for learning local lingo soon!

Community Connection: Matador member Christine Gilbert offers great tips for refreshing language skills on her website.

Photo courtesy of Jared Romey

How and where do YOU learn the local lingo of the places you visit? Share your stories in the Comments section below.