Bilingual Musings: The Art of Speaking Spanish

Every time I think about it, I can’t stop laughing. Not the “making-fun-of” kind of laughter, more like the “that’s unbelievable” one.

A couple of days ago, a colleague of mine told me our office assistant was going to make an order for office supplies and she wanted to know what we all needed. He said, “So, if you need any supplies like staples, tape, file folders o tal vez unos biromes, just let her know.”

— ¿Unos qué?, I blurted out.

Unos biromes, he repeated completely unfazed.

— What in the world is that?, I asked.

— What do you mean? Biromes are, you know, pens. What do you call them?, he asked.

— Lapicero, I said waiting for the wrath from the other Spanish-speakers in our staff to fall upon me.

— Lapicero is a mechanical pen, a Mexican co-worker said.

And a whole conversation about one of my favorite subjects ensued. If you speak Spanish, you know that we have a lot of different names for the same thing depending on where we’re from. The co-worker who uses biromes for pens is from Paraguay and apparently the word is also used in Uruguay and Argentina. Because I’m a lover of words, a quick search helped explain the story behind the word biromes. A ver que les parece.

So what do you call a pen in Spanish?

Here are some names to get you started:

  • lapicero
  • bolígrafo
  • pluma
  • lapicera
  • birome
  • esfero
  • {Photo by: yoohoojuju}

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