Let’s pretend that you are going to be transferred for work to a Spanish-speaking country. You might already know Spanish, so there will be no “language barrier” that will affect your transition to your new company. That was exactly what I thought when I moved from Chile to Argentina in 2001. When I arrived at the office and started asking for basic office supplies, my assistant looked at me with a lost face. Apparently, I was speaking a whole different Spanish language.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take for example the Spanish language word for pen. This simple and common item can be identified with so many words in Spanish-speaking countries. Take a look at this infographic that lists 12 Spanish words for pen and the countries that use them. But there’s no need to panic or try to memorize all the words. If you use the word bolígrafo you can be understood anywhere.
12 Spanish Words for PEN: Infographic and Posters
Spanish teacher: You can print and hang this poster in your classroom here.
Used in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This word comes from the brand “Birome” created in the 40’s by the company Bíró Pens of Argentina owned by the Bíró brothers and Juan Jorge Meyne. So, birome is a combination of the names Bíró and Meyne.
It is the short for bolígrafo and it is used in Spain.
This is the general common word for a pen.
Short for esferográfico and is commonly used in Colombia and Ecuador.
Also, esferógrafo and is a formal/cult word for pen in Colombia and Ecuador.
Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras
8. lápiz pasta
9. lápiz tinta
Common in Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.
Used only on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
Leave me a comment if you know of any other countries that use any of these Spanish language words for pen, or words to add that I missed.
Check out these other articles about the Spanish Language.