Speak your Language, Share your Culture

Though politically and grammatically correct, true Hondurans don’t call themselves “hondureños”. A native Honduran would call them self a “catracho”. In my year and a half spent living in Honduras, I found the most exciting part of learning Spanish was not the lists of vocabulary or conjugation charts, but rather the people adopting me into their culture, in this case, the “catracho” culture.

Native speech varies even amongst countries who speak the same language: the Honduran word “macizo” and the Guatemalan word “bakan” (both translating to “awesome”) are prime examples. The opposite happens with the word “mantequilla”; in Mexico it’s butter, but in Honduras it’s a type of sour cream.  In all three countries most of the population speaks Spanish, but even as neighbors the native tongue is slightly different than that of what’s on the other side of the border.

Toward the beginning of my time in Honduras I struggled to have other people understand my textbook-like Spanish. I couldn’t pronounce everything properly, and some of the vocabulary I used didn’t quite fit into the “catracho” culture. I’d ask for butter, and they’d give me sour cream! I could communicate, but not fully express myself. To help my situation, my good friend and I decided to start every day by saying to one another “PURA CATRACHA!” or “PURE HONDURAN!” From then on, I really wanted to master Spanish because I wanted to be just like my amigos catrachos!

The people I met in Honduras really helped me to refine my Spanish skills by practicing with me. I would listen to their accent or their phrasing and try to mimic them exactly, something I could have never done in school. Studied Spanish is useful, but native Spanish is beautiful.

I benefited greatly from the help of my friends; they were always more than happy to share their culture with me through their language. It was so exciting and personal to them bringing me into their world. Them speaking their language with me was truly them sharing their hearts. And now, I can say that I’m PURA CATRACHA!