Miscommunications in Mexico

Sara during her trip in Mexico.

-Neethu Ramchandar

Language- even if you become proficient in a language, you must always be aware of its constant changes and connotations depending on where you are speaking.

Sara Clark, International Studies graduate student, shares her story delving into the meaning of Coger. When the Spanish began to conquer Mexico, the conquistadors took goods, land, and people. They would rape the women to show power over the people. Although in some Spanish speaking countries, such as Spain, the word Coger is synonymous with Tomar and means “to take”, the connotation of Coger quickly transitioned when Spanish men began “to take” Mexican women.Today, In Mexico, Coger has a very sexual and vulgar meaning.

Clark had learned Spanish for a few years now, she had studied abroad In Spain when she was 20 years old, but now she had decided to make a significant shift. “I decided that I wanted to work among the Latino community,” Clark explains. “And for that, I needed to know a different dialect of Spanish.” To accomplish this, Clark set voyage to Mexico where she quickly found her Spanish to be splattered with differences. Caught in a linguistic hullabaloo, Clark often relied on her friends for translations and connotations.

One summer night, after visiting clubs and dancing with a group of friends, Clark was offered a ride home. Wanting to show off her independence she replied to her friends, “no problema, yo puedo coger un taxi,” (no problem, I’ll take a taxi). Their reaction to her newly accomplished independence was disappointing to say the least. As they erupted into laughter, Clark found herself confused as she repeated the phrase to herself checking conjugations and pronunciations.

Finally, Clark inquired to her friends who mockingly replied, “really Sara? Coger? You want to sleep with the taxi?” Clark had said that she had wanted to sleep with, not the taxi diver, but the actual vehicle itself.

“For weeks they teased me asking me if I wanted to Coger,” Clark says.

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