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Watch Your Language

3/23/2003 07:00:00 PM Eastern

English-speaking viewers may believe that, since all Latinos speak Spanish, all words mean the same thing to all Latinos. But as this little list shows, in some countries, words have different, usually slang, meanings, and programmers and advertisers have to stay aware of that, or risk offending or confusing viewers. TV critic Megaly Morales provides a sampling:

Pedo in Venezuela and Puerto Rico is a problem or a mess. In other places, it's slang for flatulence.

Cuero in Puerto Rico is a prostitute. In Mexico, it means handsome; anywhere else, it's leather.

Codo is stingy in Mexico. Anywhere else, it's an elbow.

Pila in Venezuela is a pile of things; anywhere else, a battery.

Goma is glue in Peru. In Chile, it means eraser. In Mexico and in Venezuela, it's the word for tires.

Llanta is a tire in Peru and a roll of fat in Mexico.

Cajetilla in Peru is a cigarette box. In Argentina, the word refers to a prostitute.

Pantalla is earring in Puerto Rico. Anywhere else, it's a lamp shade.

Bobo is a wrist watch in Mexico; in Peru and Argentina, slang for heart. Anywhere else, it means foolish or silly.

Cana is jail in Peru and gray hair anywhere else.

Bicho refers to a small, annoying insect in most of Latin America. But in Puerto Rico, it is refers to the male genitalia.

Cucharita means teaspoon, except in Venezuela, where it is slang for the female genitalia.

Arrecho means to be very mad in Venezuela, but it means being horny in Peru.

Cachar in Mexico means "to catch" somebody. In Peru, it's slang for intercourse.

Baul in Mexico is the trunk of a car. In Venezuela, a car trunk is called "maleta," but, everywhere else, that's luggage.

Camion is a bus in Mexico, but it's a truck everywhere else.

March