Sometimes the sound of a word makes it beautiful; other times, its meaning makes it stand out. Whether you love the Spanish language for its flavours or you love it for its richness and depth, there are words that abound for all of us to savour. Like any language, Spanish has regional particularities and a different style wherever you go, whether its downtown Buenos Aires or in Granada. As one of the most spoken and understood languages on earth, you will find people all over the globe speaking Spanish and giving it their own style wherever you go.
In this blog series, I want to explore some of my favourite words in Spanish, their meanings and why I love them so all of you can enjoy too. The first job of a translator is to love language – all languages – and to want to share that beauty with the rest of the world. Everything follows from this passion that I hope to embody every day of my career.
Origin: Iberian Peninsula
Meaning: Milk (and a million other things!)
Example: Estar de mala leche. – To be in a bad mood
It might not seem like you can do much with the word milk because in English, you can basically only drink it, spill it or cry over it and that’s about it. But leche can mean many different things in Spanish and it’s multiple common meanings often have little to do with its literal translated meaning.
There are a great many emotions that can be described through milk in Spanish and that alone makes this one of my favourite Spanish words – especially in light of the symbolism of milk as a life giving substance. The word milk expresses so much in Spanish about that life as well! Whether you’re talking about excitement, good or bad luck, awe and inspiration or a general atmosphere, leche can help. One of my favorite fictional exchanges by Ed Wood drives home the many facets of leche in the best way! Let’s “milk” it!
El jugador de fútbol corría a toda leche cuando uno de sus oponentes le dio una leche en la pierna. The soccer player was running at full speed when one of his opponents hit him on his leg.
“Ay la leche”, gritó el jugador al caerse al suelo.“Damn it”, cried the player as he fell to the floor.
Un espectador en el estadio comentó a su amigo, “¡Qué mala leche! Ese futbolista es la leche, y si está herido no va a poder jugar en la final, ¡Me cago en la leche!” A spectator in the stadium turned to his friend, “That was out of order! He’s the best, and if he’s injured he’s not going to be able to play in the final. Bloody hell!
Su amigo le respondió, “no te pongas de mala leche, tio. No me parece tan serio. Se levantará y seguirá jugando. Lo verás.” His friend responded, “don’t get into a bad mood, man. It doesn’t look that serious. He’ll get up and continue playing. You’ll see.”
“Y una leche”, dijó el espectador abatido. “No way”, said the spectator, dejected.
In Latin American countries, the term leche also has other another meanings. In Mexico and Chile, “Buena leche” refers to a good person, someone you can trust. (Example: “El es buena leche”: He is a good guy, you can trust him) In Argentina, “Mala leche” refers to bad luck and “Buena leche” refers to good luck. (Example: “El tiene mala/buena leche”: He has bad/good luck.) In Panama, a sentence like “Ser mala leche” or “Actuar de mala leche” connotes that there is a person that has bad intentions or has bad conduct . (Example: Esa persona es mala leche That person has bad intentions). Lastly, in Colombia, ‘Mala Leche” refers to a bitter, disagreeable person who refuses to come to the aid of anyone else!
So in the Argentinian sense, I am wishing you Buena Leche until next time!