We know we can get in trouble with cognates and false cognates when learning to speak Spanish, but there is another very dangerous and slippery slide, and that is mispronunciation.
This is not about the sloppy habit of someone who has been in Mexico for a long time and is still saying “seen your” for Señor. Every time Señor Hernández hears “Seen your Hernández,” he probably cringes, but fortunately for gringos, Mexican’s are a very forgiving people.
Two of the most X-rated mispronunciations heard of to date are going to be reported here, so if you are under 18 years of age, and without parental supervision, better not read the following.
A woman was overheard telling a waiter that she wanted to pay him. However, rather than saying “I want to pay you,” or Quiero pagarle….., pronounced pah-gar-lay, she pronounced pagar as pey-gar. Do we have to be more explicit here? No. Just remember that the verb pagar, to pay, is pronounced pah-gar. Be especially careful here if you speak Spanish with a southern accent.
And, not to be outdone, a soft spoken and dignified gentleman from Texas was overheard saying No vale la pene, rather than No vale la pena, which means, “it isn’t worth it.” The translation of that mispronunciation will also be left to your imagination. It is exactly what you thought it was. If in doubt, open your dictionary.
Our next Gringoism is rated for the whole family, and will help you order the sandwich of your choice in a cafe. Well, at least you will get what you ordered.