Romney’s Papaya Moment/A Romney le Gusta la Papaya

Mitt Romney        Papaya

Oops. The headline says it all: “Mitt Romney Tells Cubans He Loves Papaya Unaware It’s a Slang Word for Female Private Parts.” It’s all very well to try to connect with your audience, but wouldn’t you think that an experienced politico like Mr. Romney would have checked with a savvy Spanish-speaking advisor before reaching out for the Cuban-American vote in Florida? I may not know much Spanish, but I would have been able to avoid this particular gaffe. A few years ago, I took a Spanish class with Robyn, a self-described Jewbana (red-blooded American girl of Jewish/Cuban heritage). She advised me that in Cuba, the fruit is referred to as “fruta bomba.”

Mr. Romney gave his interview in English and of course intended to convey only his appreciation of a tropical fruit. And the truth is he could just as well have slipped up with another Spanish word. I’ve posted previously about the song “Qué Difícil es Hablar el Español” (How Difficult It Is to Speak Spanish), which offers a whirlwind summation of the meanings of different Spanish words in different countries. If you care to investigate further, here’s a link to the song with the lyrics in English.

Cómo el señor Romney metió la pata. En la elección inminente para presidente de los Estados Unidos, se dice que el voto latino podría decidir el resultado. Es por eso que los dos candidatos quieren ganar el apoyo de votantes hispánico-estadounidenses. Como hemos visto, el hijo de Mitt Romney, en unos comerciales de campaña de su papá, habla el español bastante bien, gracias a haber servido como un misionero mormón en Chile. (En el mismo anuncio, el Romney mayor también trató hablar el español pero con menos éxito.)

Recientemente, el candidato dio una entrevista a la prensa cubano-estadounidense. El confesó que le gusta “papaya.” No se dio cuenta que para algunos en la audiencia, la palabra refiere a las partes íntimas de una mujer. Me compadezco del señor Romney. En una entrada anterior, yo escribí (a decir la verdad, me quejé) de las palabras españoles que tienen diferentes significados en diferente países. Cuando el significado cambio de país a país, ¿cómo puede saber cuál palabra usar? Durante el proceso de investigar esa entrada, por ejemplo, aprendí que la palabra “guayaba” tiene otros significados incluyendo “mentira” y “retentiva,” y puede ser un insulto en México (“Eres un hijo de la guayaba”).

2 responses to “Romney’s Papaya Moment/A Romney le Gusta la Papaya

  1. When I visited the French-speaking part of St. Martin years ago, I attempted to compliment a young woman’s hair but praised her horse instead. A bit embarrassing, but not as bad–or as entertaining–as Mitt’s gaffe.

  2. Mitt’s juicy gaffe had just started to put a smile on my face when I recalled misusing “caliente” to describe my condition. Maggie’s derision still pains me.

    As a public service, perhaps you could do a post on fruits beginners should refrain from mentioning.

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