What with the ubiquity of computers (full disclosure: this blog post was written on one) and growing popularity of tablets and pad devices and smartphones, not to mention the near disappearance of checks and handwritten letters, do you have many excuses to pick up a pen these days? Me, I use pens constantly, make a point of always having one on me, and I’ll be damned if I don’t show off my fabulous handwriting every chance I get. I’ve also got ink constantly bespeckling my hands, but what the hey. If you too are a recalcitrant old-timer who thinks pens have still got swag, learn how to talk about your offbeat tastes in Colombian Spanish. And while we’re at it, let’s invite a few more writing utensils to the party. Feeling themselves growing ever more obsolete, they’re all in need of a little love right now.
There are many, many words used for pen in Spanish. Here are the ones I’ve run into in Colombia.
–Esfero: The only word I ever heard for pen in Bogotá. Although its usage seems to be mostly limited to the capital city, apparently it’s sometimes used here for fancy pens. Supposedly also used in Ecuador.
–Lapicero: The only word I’ve heard for pen in Medellín.
–Bolígrafo: Although I have yet to hear it, I’m told that this word is used in certain regions and would certainly be understood anywhere. Not the most beautiful word in the world, if you ask me.
–Un portaminas: Mechanical pencil
–Marcador: Marker, be it a Sharpie or a kid’s coloring markers
–Crayolas, Crayones: Crayons
–Colores: Colored pencils
Now that you know how to talk about writing utensils in Colombian Spanish, take a hike to your closest papelería (I like to translate this in my mind to a “papery”) and have a heyday. I have an inkling* that these words are going to come in handy.
*I can’t resist sharing something I just learned about English. Did you know that inkling comes from the verb “to inkle,” which means to communicate in an undertone or whisper, to give a hint of something–? I have tried to impart all of my knowledge on writing utensils in this post; please let me know in the comments, however, if you feel rankled that I’ve merely inkled.
_________________________________________________ Non-natives, what’s your experience with these words? Had you heard them before? How have you heard them used? Where? If you’re a native Spanish speaker, anything to correct, clarify, comment on or concur with?