I frequently toy with the idea of starting a separate blog just for medical Spanish, pues, that’s the area of Spanish where I spend the vast majority of my time these days. I like the idea of sharing words I come across while interpreting, both words that patients use and English words whose translation I’m not certain of. I also get a lot of visits to this blog from people searching for something like an assessment of Spanish fluency for the medical field. It’s certainly not even close to enough to just know all the body parts, symptoms, and diseases– I have the most unexpected words and topics come up on a daily basis. There are also so many different ways to say certain things, and I love to keep and share organized lists to try to keep track of all the nuances. It’s fascinating to me. So, I’m going to do that soon. This post will be somewhat of a trial run, then.
I’ll probably just share one word at a time– I feel like vocabulary is best learned in small sips. That way, you can really savor it. Gulping down vocab can be exhilarating, but in my experience, it rarely sticks. Today, though, I’ll share all the words I wrote down today while working. Some were new to me, some were words or phrases I felt I probably could have translated more naturally or idiomatically, and others were just interesting or cool.
How’s the munchkin? - The nurse was chatting with the patient, who had just had a baby. She was doing fine with the basic questions and didn’t need me until the nurse asked, “How’s the munchkin?” That’s when she drew a blank, turned to me, and had me interpret for the rest of the appointment. Munchkin– haha, what a funny word. I definitely did not rack my brain to try to find the “right” translation for it. I knew it wouldn’t be there, nor did it matter. Was it truly necessary to explain to this woman the offhand reference to singing, dancing dwarfs from The Wizard of Oz? Of course not. (I didn’t even know until now that the word Munchkin was invented by the author of the book, Frank L. Baum.) I also associate them with doughnut holes thanks to Dunkin’ Donuts. I just said, ¿Cómo está su bebecito? Surely nene or chiquillo would have worked just as well. Any other suggestions?
Glucola - The name of the sweetened drink for the oral glucose tolerance test used to screen for gestational diabetes.
Incubadora - incubator
Pañalera - diaper bag (but can also be a diaper store [that also has related accessories], or a diaper changing pad) (In case you didn’t know, diaper = pañal)
I love the idea of little diaper stores! Look how cute they are. I would totally move back to Latin America in a heartbeat just to have a neighborhood pañalera to patronize one day.
Tosco, rústico - Rough, coarse. A mom used these words to describe socks that her infant son had worn that had given him a blister, contrasting them with other softer pairs that he wears. I probably would have said áspero, but I’m glad to know that these words are used as well. Before, I mainly associated tosco with a coarse, vulgar type of person, and rústico more with simple, handmade furniture. (I remember going to store after tiny store of muebles rústicos with my mom in Bogotá, looking for furniture for my apartment.) Now that I’ve looked into it a little more, I also see burdo and basto for rough in regards to material/fabric. Native speakers? What say you?
To slough off - Desprenderse, descamar/se
To step aside (figuratively) - Hacerse a un lado, dar un paso al costado
If you have any better suggestions or corrections, please let me know! Don’t be shy. There’s almost always a better way to say something, and I love learning from people, not books or dictionaries.
So, what did you learn today? Don’t hog the knowledge and keep it all to yourself; share with us! The whole point of learning a language, after all, is to have an intercambio and dialogue. ¿O no?