'Tomayto', 'tomahto'? Not necessarily true when it comes to Spanish.
And definitely not according to the hit Youtube video “Que Difícil Es Hablar En Español” (“It's Really Hard To Speak Spanish”), in which Colombian musicians and brothers Juan Andrés and Nicolás Ospina, sing about the endless (and confusing) variations for many common Spanish-language words.
In the video, which already has garnered close to 2 million views since it hit the web last week, the Ospina brothers sing about “que difícil es hablar en Espanol, porque todo tiene otra definición” which translates to “it's hard to speak Spanish when everything has different meanings”. A word that means something in one place, means something completely different elsewhere.
For example, they sing about the word “fresa” which in Colombia means “strawberry” -- the fruit -- but in Mexico “fresa” means a waspy snob. In Argentina a waspy snob is called a “cheto”, but “cheto” is not strawberry. Strawberry is “frutilla” in Argentina. And so on.
The humorous lyrics also speak about an important truth: the fact that a “correct" form of Spanish doesn’t really exist anymore. The same word or phrase can have multiple definitions depending on the country. And as such “speaking correct Spanish” is close to impossible.
This idea is not surprising when you look at the numbers. With 329 million native speakers, Spanish ranks as the world's No. 2 language in terms of how many people speak it as their first language. It is second only to Mandarin. Spanish is the official language of 24 different countries.
The Ospina brothers sing part of their song with an accent -- one which a native English speaker who also speaks Spanish might have. They do this to allude to the fact that Spanish is becoming even more complicated now that countries have adopted English phrases. Spanglish, if you will.
Some of the Spanglish phrases they sing about are: "guachiman" (from a "watchman") and "hanguear" (from "hanging out"). And even though Spanglish might provide some comedic material, it also confuses the language further.
"Porqué tiene que ser tan difícil saber como diablos hablar español!?!?" ("Why the hell is it so hard to speak Spanish!?!?") the Ospina brothers sing.
According to their Youtube page, they dedicate their song to:
To all our brothers in Latin America and Spain, and all the Spanish speaking community, the cultural diversity, the wealth of the language and to all the people who once tried to speak in Spanish and weren’t able to” (“Todos los hermanos en Latinoamerica y España, y a toda comunidad hispanoparlante, la diversidad cultural, la riqueza del lenguaje y las personas que intentaron hablar español alguna vez y no lo lograron.")