my pals on the lancecord asked me for some tips on cuban spanish so i thought i’d share them here too for all you lance writers. i’m a cuban voltron fan who doesnt want to live in fear of bad spanish in nearly every damn fic and im trying to be the change i want to see in the world. so feel free to message me if you have any questions about lance’s culture bc this is nowhere near being comprehensive at all.
lets get into the stuff google translate can’t teach u!
i don’t know anyone under the age of 60 who says “dios mio.” lance definitely would not, unless he is doing an impression of his abuela.
things that sound more natural than dios mio: ave maria, ay dios, por dios, AY POR DIOS
more commonly we exclaim “coño!” for anything. shock/anger/awe/etc. if the reaction is negative, it’s just coño. if the reaction is positive, we drop the first syllable and draw it out like “‘ñoooooo”
we exclaim “pinga!” or “cojone!” or “pinga cojone!” as a negative reaction more commonly than any translations of omg too
“de madre” is something we usually exclaim as a negative reaction. it can be yelled or sighed or grumbled. usually has a frustrated or incredulous connotation
“wepa!” is a sound we make as a positive exclamation.
we say “‘ueno” like the verbal embodiment of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (it’s bueno with the b dropped)
other things that sound really stiff for cubans to say is like, “hola, como estas?” i mean, you say it to people you’re not on a casual level with. to friends/family these sound more natural:
“que bola asere” is how we greet our close friends
“que bola” or “que vuelta” is how we say hey
“oye” is hey! but not as a greeting, as an exclamation. something you would say before a greeting or on its own when surprised/offended/trying to get someone’s attention/etc
common insults: cabron/cabrona, mojon, comepinga, comemierda
common pet names for anyone: flaco, nena, mojon, mi socio, corazon
“asere” is our word for “bro” that no other country uses (1000% what lance calls hunk)
we also have a tendency to call our family members by their relation+their name, such as “my Tio Jimmy called” or “Abuela Carmen is making food.” i think this is when we have big ol families and just saying tio or abuela isnt specific enough
also this isnt spanish but i s2g so many bilingual cubans i know use the word “fire” almost constantly to describe something awesome. so i think thats a small cultural thing that communicates lance is cuban without having him speak spanish. (ex. “omg that’s fire” “hunk makes fire tacos” “pidge is fire at fixing stuff” “can you play that fire song?”)
now here’s a bunch of stuff that’s just my opinion
- I think it’s most in character for Lance to drop Spanish words only one or two at a time into English phrases, since that’s how he uses it in canon (“Hasta la later, Keith!”). A couple of quick examples off the top of my head -
- tremendo/tremenda - an adjective for huge. “You’re being tremendo sore loser, but okay.”
- todito/todo - means everything. you can use them one after the other for extra drama. “I forgot todito, todo, about calculus immediately after passing it.”
- These sound like really natural ways to drop Spanish into conversation without being forced if you keep it to a minimum. I aint here to tell u how to write your lance but i beg you - Please show restraint and don’t try to use all of these tips at the same time!!
- I recommend following latin internet personalities (like jaxxgarcia or mr. red) to pick up their Spanglish phrasing if you’re really into that. please don’t try to make up your own. it’s never as cute as you thought.
- if you’re writing full on spanish for more than a word or two, please do not ever make Lance speak it “accidentally” (or even worse, on purpose) to someone he knows doesn’t understand the language. that’s really rude and alienating and it’s so against lance’s character to isolate himself from others like that when he speaks fluent english.
- other times Lance can toss a spanish word in without sounding forced is if he’s namedropping cuban things! Try looking up some of our
- food (ropa vieja, pan con lechon, arroz con leche)
- drinks (materva, iron beer, malta),
- films (juan of the dead, azucar amarga)
- or music (celia cruz, marc anthony, juanes*) and have lance mention them by their spanish name if the topic comes up.
- *not all of these musicians are cuban, but they’re some of the most popular amongst us. i’m simply naming artists i think lance is most likely to enjoy considering his age and personality.
- speaking of music, we have very specific dance styles that are pretty cool and almost mandatory to learn at a young age. cubans in general love to party, and to host large family gatherings which easily morph into parties, and basically any social event seems awkward if there’s no one dancing at any point.
- what I’m trying to say is Lance definitely knows salsa or merengue moves.
- I don’t love to party and I’m not a good dancer and I don’t like dancing, but I know salsa anyway because I had to be in the environment my whole life. always exceptions, but the majority of cubans grow up knowing how to dance and it looks more or less like this:
and one last opinion for the road:
Voltron takes place in the future, so I like to dream of Lance being born in a world where Cuba’s free from communism. If you’re doing a Voltron AU that takes place nowadays, please don’t write about Lance’s experience in Cuba if you aren’t familiar with what it’s like to live under a regime like that. It’s very bleak and textbooks don’t cover half of the fucked up things that those who live there actually have to go through.
Lance could have been born in Cuba, but raised somewhere else. Miami would be my recommendation because it’s our second homeland and it means he would have been raised surrounded by Cuban culture without the governmental oppression. But Cubans are absolutely everywhere, so it’s equally believable that Lance’s family could have immigrated to Pawnee, Indiana. Even in Voltron canon, I think it’s likely Lance moved to America at a young age because he clearly has a native fluency in English.
edit: I have a cuban things tag now if you’re interested in finding out more cultural details!