Weekly Writing Challenge: “Yo Falo Portuñol [and Spanglish!]”

03 May
In green, the areas where "Portunol"  is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from

In green, the areas where “Portunol” is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from

Oh, well, this one should be interesting!

The inspiration for this week’s writing challenge is ‘a manner of speaking’.

Recently, I just shared my very personal point of view on why do I write‘, really meaning ‘why do I blog‘ – and the answers are quite simple: I write, blog, share, because it’s the easiest, fastest, simplest way to reach out to other [bloggers], get feedback [from within the traveling, expat community], vent out [my difficulties, challenges] and exchange [experiences, lessons learned and why not, ‘things that one should not do while trying to raise kids around the world!‘] 😮

I also try to blog in different languages – although my posts tend to be mostly in English, my mother tongue is Continental Portuguese [born and raised in the beautiful & multicultural country of Brazil!], and to top it all off, we’re living and working in Bolivia, whose national language is Spanish. That said, my work days are spent in 2 languages that aren’t really, ‘mine’… Despite the obvious exhaustion at the end of the day, I’m surviving…

At work: I talk to people in English and in ‘Portuñol’. My staff is kind enough to ‘pretend’ they’re fully understanding what I’m struggling to tell them! Conversations with local nationals are often established in ‘Spanglish’ and in Portuñol.

At home: it’s a mix. Met my husband several years back, while still in Brazil, and the two of us would have long conversations in Portuguese. Years went by, and now we created a mixed language that tends to gravitate towards the ‘one who’s the most tired’: if it’s me, than, we talk in Portuguese. If it’s him, the conversation will move toward English. But we’re not done, there are the 3 kids, adding to this lingual melting pot: the older ones, due to the international school, show some preference to English, while the toddler showcases her abilities in Spanish Paceño [typical of La Paz], with a few words in Aymara [indigenous dialect], here and there… 😮

Somehow, all of us, who are continuously swinging between two or more languages, find our way to adjust, to adapt to new scenarios, and keep on moving. We keep on talking [and boy, I’m a chatty cat, if allowed to be!] – communication is one of the most powerful tools our society’s got, and when well used, it’s not only a diplomatic tool, but it also enhances our chances to improve social relationships at home, at the work level, and emotionally. ♥

" Amanhana, yo hablo!"
” Amanhana, yo hablo!”

“Amanhãna eu hablo. Si queden tranquilis!”

[this is a classic example of Portuñol – very likely, the intention was to say: ‘I’ll talk about it tomorrow, stay calm”.]  Photo credit here.

For the Spanish-speaking readers here, this sentence probably sounds like a joke… and guess what, was produced by one of Brazil’s former President, while addressing the Mercosul community!]. Jokes aside, I’m proud to have a mixed background, and even more proud to have the ability to share that with my growing children. I speak Spanglish. I speak Portuñol. Yo hablo whatever mix between these three languages is required to have the conversation going… The goal is to communicate. Hopefully, I’m on the right track… and if not, I’ll graciously find my way out: ‘yo no comprendo…’ 😮 ‘ I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about...’ And, if I’m lucky enough, I won’t find myself lost in translation through life! ♥

In order to wrap it all up, a poem, written in the “most pure Portunol“, by a Brazilian GauchoMario Quintana:

Don Ramón se tomo um pifón:
bebia demasiado, don Ramón!

Y al volver cambaleante a su casa,
avistó em el camino:
um árbol
y um toro…

Pero como veia duplo, don Ramón
vio um árbol que era
y um árbol que no era,
um toro que era
y um toro que no era.
Y don Ramón se subió al árbol que no era:
Y lo atropelo el toro que era.
Triste fim de don Ramón!



Posted by on May 3, 2013 in humor, LANGUAGE


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

22 responses to “Weekly Writing Challenge: “Yo Falo Portuñol [and Spanglish!]”

  1. Norine Acevedo

    May 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Hello! I very much enjoyed this post. I can completely identify with finding whatever mode of communication works as I discuss here:
    You have (unwittingly, of course) answered a few questions I have about expat family life, as our family is considering moving overseas. You have a very interesting blog here, and I hope to stop by and visit often.


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      May 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Thank you very much for sharing your post, Norine, and thanks for your kind comments! As mentioned, I try to use this blog as a forum, and as a place to ‘vent’ our frustrations and small victories, throughout this ‘intense’ expat life. Good luck with your new adventures! Good luck and much success with the move, and all that comes with any transition!!! 😮 Take care, R.


  2. Billie

    May 4, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Thanks for adding my blog post to yours!


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      May 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Great! Will hop over to your site and check your ‘language challenges’!!! 😮 Thanks for sharing your post!


      • bambangpriantono

        May 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        De nada..hehehehe..
        I just a starter then.


        • 3rdCultureChildren

          May 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm



          • bambangpriantono

            May 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

   know too that in The Philippines there’s a kind of Spanish based Creole called Chavacano. That’s Spanish but with Filipinos and English influences…

            Even when they say about plural they only add ‘MAGA’

            such as
            Los hijos will be said Maga anak
            Las profesoras will be said only El maga profesora.

            Just sharing.


  3. bambangpriantono

    May 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Mixed language then?
    I ever read about Portunol in Rivera, Uruguay…


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      May 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Very mixed, indeed! 😮
      Saludos desde La Paz, Bolivia!


      • bambangpriantono

        May 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm

        I am also writing about language here.

        Check it out…:)

        Eu falo um pouco Portugues
        Yo falo Espanol un poco tambien..




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