The story of the Spanish “O”


Aztec calendar = O

The letter “O” is an amazing letter in Spanish! “O” makes Spanish, Spanish. In my Spanish class, I demand that all my students to speak Spanish whenever possible. Once there was a commotion in the classroom and I asked what had happened. When a student told me that his book fell, I asked him to tell me in Spanish. He then said, “El book-O fell-O.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary even lists “el cheapo” as an entry! That’s the stereotype of the Spanish language: that all the words end in “O.” Do you understand? No problemo! (In Spanish it’s really “problema.”) How about all those snacks derived from corn tortillas? They all end in “o” with an “s” to make it plural. Fritos, Doritos, Tostitos, Nachos, Chipitos, Crujitos, etc. However, there are some English words that become Spanish when you add “o.” For example, insect becomes insecto, car becomes carro, Alfred becomes Alfredo, Robert becomes Roberto, but David remains David and under no circumstances does it become Davido. Nothing annoys me more than to be called Davido! False becomes falso, traffic becomes tráfico, and video, well, it stays the same, video.  But be careful with cool. Don’t say coolo! Adding an “o” to cool will make it culo in Spanish, which requires much care when saying it because it’s a swear word referring to part of the body in the nether region known as the buttocks. ¿Comprendo? [sic]

I want a corn snack-O.

Published by

David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.