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El Spanish "-o"

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No problemo. note 

"...Then this kid gets up and he starts running around with his dick flapping in the air, screaming 'Help! Help!' I don't know what that is in Spanish. 'Helpo! Helpo!' Whatever it is.”
Dave Attell, Skanks for the Memoriesnote 

People all over the world are in contact with people who speak other languages. Much of the time however they cannot actually speak other people's languages. Sometimes, usually as a joke, they will try to "speak" the language by taking words in their own language and then adding stereotypical linguistic markers of the target language in an attempt to fake it.

This is usually a joke, but sometimes it's just plain desperation, if not outright insensitivity. In the U.S., Spanish is the language that most commonly gets this treatment, with the article "el" being put in front of English words and the masculine ending "-o" being put on the end. For example, an English speaker who wanted beer might ask a Spanish-speaker for "el beero," when it should have been "la cerveza." Other languages get this treatment too. French, for example, will have the masculine article "le" placed in front of English words with the ending "-é" occasionally added. Italian will have "La" in front of words, an "a-" prefix ("It's a-me, Mario!") and another suffix "-a" added after. Russian will get "-ov" or "-ski" (or "-ovski") added to the ends of names and words, Latin with "-us" or "-um," German with "-en," Chinese with "-ee" or "-ing," Portuguese with "-eiro" or "-inho," Japanese with "-ru" or "-desu/masu," and Greek with "-on" or "-tron" (to make Technobabble). English itself in some languages takes this treatment with words ending with "-ing" or "-ation".

Actually has a small bit of Truth in Television, as some Spanish words are English loanwords, so when they are preceded by an article we have terms such as "el jazz", "la radio", and "el golf". Spanish has more English cognates than any other language, so people may feel they're at least somewhere in the ballpark. And while "Russki" sounds like an English word made up for dog Russian, it really does correspond to the proper romanization of the Cyrillic word that Russians use to call each other.

Please keep in mind, this trope is not about using complete gibberish and passing it off as a foreign language. This trope is all about using real aspects of a foreign language (or possibly just what someone thinks is a real aspect of a foreign language) in your native tongue in an attempt to pass it off as the foreign language.

Sister trope to Canis Latinicus, Ching Chong, and The Backwards Я. Compare to As Long as It Sounds Foreign, which is an attempt to actually use the real language, but getting it right isn't important. Also compare to Gratuitous Foreign Language (which is correct use of other languages) and Poirot Speak. Not to be confused with "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño", which is using correct foreign words, but deliberately not translating them in a context where you normally would. Compare/contrast with Translation by Volume, which is thinking that talking loudly and slowly will make foreigners understand you.


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Examples involving Spanish:

    El Advertisingo 
  • The trope originator — and the trope averted at the same time, because for once it's genuine Spanish — was El Producto brand cigars, with the iconic woman in a red dress playing a lyre. Because a real Spanish word looked exactly like the corresponding English word preceded by "El" and ending in "-o," it gave English speakers the idea to form mock-Spanish words along the same pattern.
  • The frequent use of "bandito" instead of "bandido" can probably be blamed on the Frito Bandito.
  • A series of commercials about racial prejudice play this trope for drama. Examples:
    • A woman in a restaurant sees a Mexican-American and starts speaking "El Spanisho", which offends her friends.
    • A customer in an upper-class restaurant is frustrated that the cook keeps making a mistake on his order for a sandwich, not getting the wheat bread he asked for. After several mistakes and realizing the cook is Hispanic, the customer angrily demands "el-wheato" for his bread. The hostess barely conceals her disgust as she brings out the correct order, after which the man continues in a tirade about how "they" should know the language before getting a job in America. Another customer, who is Hispanic, basically tells him "You Talk Too Much!"
  • English online language school Open English had a series of ads featuring Wachu, a Hispanic man with poor English and equally poor choices for learning it, who often resorted to making up faux English words by appending "-ation" to a Spanish word, such as "grabation" (from grabación, recording) and "hospitalization". His foil was the CEO of Open English, who supposedly spoke fluent English thanks to his own school.
  • A short-lived commercial for grilled chicken chain El Pollo Loco had the chicken cooked on "El Grill" while a Masked Luchador stomps on a box of El Nuggets. There is an element of N-Word Privileges here, though, in that El Pollo Loco really was founded in a Spanish-speaking country.note 

    Los Animos y Mangos 
  • The english dub of Azumanga Daioh changes the dialog in a scene where Kagura is trying to talk to a foreigner using Gratuitous English ("Um, help you... I'll... with that. ... You can't understand? Help. Help. Help me!") to her trying to speak Spanish this way, with a bit of German and Italian sounding words peppered in. ("El helpo lifto va moi baggo. ... Me... word... no comprende? ... Helfen? Das help? HELPA MIO!")

    Las Comedias 
  • Bill Cosby has a routine where he pretty much spells out this trope verbatim. And then says when they still can't understand you, you just start saying it LOUDER.
  • Larry the Cable Guy, when introducing the song "I Believe," says, "Or, in the Spanish, Yo Believe-o."
    Jeff Foxworthy: "Yo Believe-o"?
    Larry: Or... El Believe-o, whatever.note 
  • Ventriloquist Ronn Lucas had a routine where one of his puppets claims to know how to speak Spanish. Ronn asks him to count to ten in Spanish, and after a moment's hesitation, the puppet replies: ", dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, six-o, seven-o, eight-o, nine-o and ten-o."
  • Brian Reagan says that during a high school Spanish test he just took English words and added and "o" to the end. He "got an "F O".
  • The Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden routine "Flamenco" had Ronnie singing in Spanglish and Barry "translating". Some of it was in real Spanish (more or less) and some of it wasn't, to make Barry's Tactful Translation more obvious.
    Ronnie: Esta historia de un muchacho y una muchacha.
    Barry: This is the story of a boy and girl from Valencia. As you may have heard.
    Ronnie: Él esta grande organo.
    Barry: He was a tall and upstanding young man.
    Ronnie: Y ella esta slappera...
    Barry: And she was a farmer's daughter...
    Ronnie: ...cona bristolas enormous.
    Barry: ...who did a lot of work for charity.

    Los Comicbookos 
  • El Deafo: The title of the book and a nickname Cece gives herself. Not only is the Spanish word for "deaf" "sordo", but in Cece's case, it would actually be "La Sorda" because she's a girl.
  • Like most Flemish comics, Jommeke uses a slightly different convention: adding -os to every other word.

    Los Fanworkos 
  • In Avatar: The Abridged Series Spanish is rendered mostly as English with "El" tacked on. "El Gasp!" Sometimes they also add "-o" to the end of words and maybe put in a real Spanish word in there. Sokka attempting to communicate with an inexplicably Spanish Momo: "Necessito... open-o el door-o."
  • This is a Verbal Tic for the man in black in Futari wa Pretty Cure Dragon, who's as much a Politically Incorrect Villain as is possible for a Pretty Cure fanseries. It also gets him tagged with the rather insulting nickname "super spade"; the fact that he acts like a lunatic and dresses like a mariachi doesn't help matters either (and Word of God says the man in black is not a Mexican in the loosest sense of the word).

    Los Filmos — Animation 
  • Sausage Party: "Once you go taco, you never go back-o."
  • This line from Toy Story 3, after Buzz accidentally gets set to "Spanish mode".
    Woody: We don't have time for this. Come on, El Buzzo.
  • In Arthur Christmas, Steve begs a Mexican child not to cry. However, as he does not speak Spanish and the boy does not speak English, he is reduced to saying "No cry-o".

    Los Filmos — Live-Action 
  • The Mexican has a scene where a character says "I need a ride in your El Truck-o to the next town-o." note 
  • Similarly, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag has Dick Bennett (George Hamilton) trying to tell a Mexican cop that "I have a plane-o to catch-o." note 
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John teaches the T-800 to say "no problemo" (which is actually "Spanglish," and isn't right; the correct way to say "no problem" would be "No hay problema."). John also teaches him "Hasta la vista (baby)" which actually is correct (it means "Farewell"). The Spanish dub of the movie became a pretty good example of Keep It Foreign translating the catchphrase as "Sayonara, baby", which then became a relatively popular expression in Spain note .
  • Airplane!:
    • It gives us the sign "El No a You Smoke-O".note 
    • There is also "Putana Da Seatbeltz" note  probably referencing Italian, where "putana" means "prostitute").
    • As well as "Return to your seat" "translated" as "Gobacken sidonna."note 
  • The Big Lebowski: You can call him "El Duderino", if you're not into the whole brevity thing. The Spanish dub uses "El Nota" throughout the movie and "El Notarino".
  • An early sketch on TunnelVision has a language lesson featuring a Spanish-speaking teacher who employs this a lot throughout the sketch.
  • La Bamba has Ritchie Valens wake up in Mexico after a night of heavy drinking with Bob and with no idea how he got there. Since he doesn't speak any Spanish at all, when a Mexican adresses him in Spanish, Valens answers no speak-o español. The correct way to point this out is "no hablo español."
  • HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami: Most of the Gratuitous Spanish in this movie is a French version of this. Pablito's Palombian insults in particular ("hijo de speculos"; "fajitas de leche") are mostly Throw It In! from Jamel Debouzze. The French DVD release includes "Palombian" subtitles... that is, entirely El Spanish "-o" subtitles.
  • Message in a Cell Phone: Mac approaches some Hispanic cleaner ladies by saying "excusada me" (excuse me) and ask them where he can find the "swimma poola" (swimming pool).
  • Mr. Lucas does so in Are You Being Served?, when trying to get Conchita to deliver a love letter to Miss Brahms:
    Mr. Lucas: You speak-ee English?
    Conchita: A leetle teety beet.

    El Literaturo 
  • In the Horatio Hornblower books, there are a number of occasions where British sailors and officers gamely attempt to communicate with Spanish, French, or Italian people (either their prisoners, or their erstwhile allies, depending on what is going on) by speaking slowly and adding vowels to the ends of their words. It generally doesn't work.
  • The Dave Barry column "The Sky Is Falling" is accompanied by a Jeff MacNelly cartoon showing arrows on a weather map labeled "El Niño," "El Beaño," "El Producto," "El Xspresso Machino" and "El Streamo del Jetto." (The column discusses espresso machines as a possible cause of the El Niño effect, but, unlike some other Dave Barry columns, does not mention Beano.)
  • Cece Bell's story El Deafo is based on her own experience as a deaf girl using a Phonic Ear hearing aid system (the early models were godawfully huge and clunky). She feels awkward and like she'll never fit in, but because they work via an amplified sound field broadcasting on an FM band, she discovers she can hear everything — including things she's not supposed to. Imagining it as Super-Hearing, she starts calling herself El Deafo.
  • Skippyjon Jones often adds "-o", "-to", or "-ito" to random English words to give a jokingly Spanish effect to them.
  • The non-fiction book Found in Translation notes a common type of this that's especially awkward. Some men will say "embarazado" when they mean "embarrased". This sounds way too much like the actual Spanish word "embarazada", which means "pregnant". So, the person ends up accidentally saying that he is pregnant, not embarrassed.
  • Gertrude Diamant's 1942 novel The Days of Ofelia has a chapter on how Mexican Spanish has absorbed a number of English words and expressions so that it sounds like el Spanish-o: "beisbol," "el noqueout", "gran preview en un night club," and when the New York Follies came to Mexico City the marquee read "Las Glamour Girls y Las Lovelies Debutan Hoy".
  • When the titular John in John Dies at the End is confronted by security guards while snooping around a crime scene, he tries to cover his tail by claiming to not speak English. When this inevitably fails, he fakes a seizure by throwing himself to the ground, rolling around and yelling "EL SEIZURE!! NO ES BUENO!!" in a Mexican accent.
  • In William Gaddis's novel The Recognitions, Otto loses the manuscript to his play while vacationing in Mexico. In desperation, he asks the locals if they've seen his "playa", which only baffles them wondering why this man is having so much trouble finding the beach.

    El Live-Action TV-o 
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In one episode, Theresa decides that she's been neglecting teaching her kids about their Mexican heritage and tries to teach her daughter Alex how to speak Spanish. Alex, a notorious slacker, can't be bothered to put more effort into this than adding "-ito" to the end of English words.
    Theresa: Honey, adding "-ito" to something does not make it Spanish!
    Alex: You know how you say como se dice in front of everything, is that Spanish too?note 
    Theresa: Oh boy.
  • 19 Kids and Counting: In an episode in which the Duggar family makes a mission trip to El Salvador, Jim Bob says, "Back-o out of the way-o."
  • Breaking Bad basically is this trope. It is full of badly translated and constructed Spanish names, such as Los Pollos Hermanos and Vamonos Pest.
  • Arrested Development has an episode where George Bluth is mistaken for his identical twin brother while in Mexico. He tries to explain that they want his "brothero." It's even funnier that he puts the accent over the "e" (like you would if it were a real word in Spanish), so he's saying "bro-thero" instead of "brother-o". And to add to the humor, the word he wants is "hermano," which has been used multiple times on the show with the other characters not knowing what it means.
  • The X-Files: Mulder in the episode "Little Green Men" gave us this treat when he finds himself in Puerto Rico: "No, Jorge! Don’t touch that red button. No-ho on the rojo."
  • While there's usually a person or two per season in The Amazing Race who do actually speak Spanish note , someone who doesn't will usually attempt it in this way if they're in a Spanish-speaking country. Marty in season 28 told their cab driver in Colombia they were in a "race-o".
  • MADtv (1995):
    • El Asso Wipo!
    • The "Estrella Viaje" — Star Trek sketch in what was about half this trope and half real but very elementary Spanish. While it's been mostly dropped now, Star Trek used to be known in some Spanish-Speaking countries as "Viaje a las Estrellas" (lit. "Voyage to the Stars").
  • Invoked by Jesse in Burn Notice, in a deliberate attempt to piss off the rear gate guard at a gang compound in Panama so he'd leave his post to deal with the intrusion.
  • In the second season of Psych, Shawn gets a part on a Spanish soap opera and mostly gets by with eighth grade Spanish. When it comes time to do his usual summation, though, he switches to accented English with a lot of -o-ing.
    • He did spend some time in Argentina, though, which helps him figure out that a couple of guys who are claiming to be from Spain are actually Argentinian.
  • Will & Grace:
    • Karen is talking to her maid on the phone. She tells Rosario to take her (Karen's) kids to "el toy-o store-o." When this doesn't work, she asks Will what "toy store" is in Spanish. He tells her note , but she immediately forgets and falls back on "FAO Schwartz-o."
    • In a later episode, it's revealed that she can speak perfect Spanish, when she's forced to live in one of the neglected apartments she's a landlord of. Leaning out of the window, she yells down to a boy to tell him that his mother has been looking for him, and then speaks to him in Spanish. Will then lampshades this by saying "Yet with Rosario, it's 'Scrubo the tubo'".
  • In "The Duchess and the Devil" of Horatio Hornblower, British sailor Hunter tries to add Spanish flavour to his native English by making the vowel sounds more expressive and longer. They are in the Spanish prison and try to get out, pretending that one of them is ill and needs help of their Spanish guards: "Help us! Por favor, help us, qui-eeck! Por favor, he's si-eeck!" Other instances of El Spanish-O involving French are noted below.
  • Close, but no cigar: on the episode of Family Matters where the gang was in Mexico, Steve Urkel referred to Waldo as "el stupido" - which is almost correctnote .
  • Game Shows:
    • Family Feud: During the Richard Dawson era, he would call out a dumb answer by repeating it this way, although more than once the seemingly silly answer was on the survey. Dawson previously did the same as a panelist on Match Game.
    • The Price Is Right: During the Bob Barker era, he would refer to the single digit number (which always had a leading zero, e.g., "04") in the Money Game as "El Cheapo". "El Cheapo" went into the national vocabulary to describe the bottom-grade line of any product; "these are the deluxe cassette tapes, and these are the el cheapos".note  Additionally, the term “el-skunko” is used by fans to refer to a winless show, occasionally also using the term for a wipeout of certain pricing games and/or a winless show with a double overbid in the Showcase.
  • ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.? had a multigenerational Cuban-American family living in Miami.
    • Teenagers Joe and Carmen (he came over from Cuba at three, she was born in the US) can speak Spanish, but sometimes resort to turning English words into Spanish, like Carmen reporting that the dentist found she had "caberías" instead of "caries" (cavities), or Joe reporting his teacher had "flonkeado" (flunked) his class.
    • Carmen's American friend Sharon often did that as well while trying to keep up when her friends' Bilingual Dialogue:
    • The Peñas' American neighbor (who has been teaching English to grandparents Adela and Antonio, but they are not fast learners) has come over to complain about someone parking on her lawn, and only finds Adela at first:
      Look, somebody in this house has park-o their car-o in front of mi-o lawn-o.
  • In an episode of Charmed, when the Elders send a Unicorn as a baby present to Piper, Paige reads the tag, which is torn at the "From:" part to say just "El" and assumes the sender is Spanish.
  • Breaking Bad has Jesse request "el axe-o" while attempting to break down a door in a New Mexico laundromat.
  • Many characters use el Spanish-o when they're embarrassed. In The Rockford Files a promoter arranges a lavish birthday party for a Mafia figure he hopes to impress, but the caterer sent the bill to the guest of honor instead of the promoter, who in explaining this said "He got stuck with el tab-o." note 
  • All in the Family:
    • Archie Bunker uses a bit now and then. When he lost his job and signed up for unemployment, he asked the Hispanic applicant next to him for a pencil.
      Applicant: No hablo inglés.
      Archie: What I need is a pencilito so I can fillo out the formo. note 
      Applicant: No comprendo.
      Archie: Forgetto.note 
    • In "Fire", both Edith and Puerto Rican boarder Teresa are flailing in near panic. Archie tells them "Stifle, you, and stifle-ito, you." note 
  • Barney Miller's Wojciehowicz is pelted with garbage and Spanish epithets when he serves an eviction notice to residents of a condemned building. He brings the tenant committee to the squadroom and asks one of them to "el seato" note  Barney helpfully indicates a chair and says "Señor Rodriguez, aquí."
  • One episode of The Adventures of Superman finds Jimmy trying to direct a cab driver in Mexico this way. Flips the Spanish-to-O, Italian-to-A guideline.
    Jimmy: Can you communicata me and senorita to la hotel?
  • During the European vacation season of Growing Pains, Mike tries to bluff his way into a Spanish wedding by saying, "We are amigos of el groomo."
  • Willow and Tara's cat in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is named "Ms. Kitty Fantastico", problem is, a kitty (female cat) in Spanish would be Fantastica, Fantastico only applies to males.
  • The Brothers García has an episode involving Carlos failing a Spanish test. The reason is clear from the first page, where he writes things like "I speak-o, you speak-o, they speak-o". Both his bilingual parents are not amused.

    Los Musicos 
  • Weezer: "El Scorcho, rock n' roll!"
  • The instrumental that closes the A Trick of the Tail album by Genesis is titled "Los Endos".
  • Big Star's "Ballad of El Goodo".
  • P.D.Q. Bach's "Howdy Symphony" features an example of Spanish-or-Italian-or-Something-O in its first movement, "Allegro con mucho brio," which, according to Peter Schickele, means "lively, with lots of French cheese." In the same vein, three of the "Six Contrary Dances" are labeled "Daintissimo," "Allegro, but not too mucho," and "Moving right alongo."

    Los Puppetshows 
  • One episode of The Muppet Show had the Porcelino brothers call their muppet pyramid "el pyramido". (The real words are "la pirámide".)

    El Radio 
  • Rush Limbaugh is often called "El Rushbo" by his detractors. The reasons for this have been lost to history.
  • The Goon Show episode Foiled by President Fred features Bloodnok attempting to impersonate the South American President Fred
    Bloodnok: Cor blimey-o! El knocko on the door-o. Come in-o.
  • A bit on The Now Show compared the UK's age-of-consent laws with the more complex ones everywhere else, interspersed with their tabloid headline voice bellowing "LICENCE FOR PAEDOES!" After they describe the law in Spain, the headline is "LICENCO DEL PAEDO!"

    Los Sportos 
  • A big example of this that is used very frequently is the term "el cheapo".
  • The St. Louis Cardinals team that won the 1967 World Series was known as "El Birdos." note 
  • In Major League Soccer, the rivalry between Los Angeles FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy is called "El Tráfico", a nod to the major traffic jams on the area's freeways. Although the name is the actual Spanish translation for "The Traffic".

    Los Video Gamos 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has one mission where Big Smoke tries to negotiate with some Mexican gangsters this way, even introducing himself as "El Grandonote  Smokio". He quickly loses his patience, however, and demands they "Cough-io - up el weedo - before I blow your brains out all over the patio!"
  • One mod on a SimCity website once mentioned an "El Stoppo". Funnily enough, a red, octagonal stop sign is called "el stop". (Pronounced "el estop".)
  • The Sims:
    • The Unleashed expansion of The Sims has an NPC raccoon that can sometimes be found digging through a household's trash, named "El Bandito". A more correct name would either be "El Bandido" in Spanish or "Il Bandito" in Italian.
    • The Sims 3 mixes Spanish and Italian again with its Island Paradise expansion. It features a world named "Isla Paradiso", which would make more sense as "Isla Paraíso" in Spanish or "Isola Paradiso" in Italian.
  • One of the monsters in Tombs & Treasure is called El Slug.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has the ¡La Fantoma! comics, about a superheroine halfway between Batgirl and The Phantom. While they were smart enough to realize that a female would have a name ending in "-a" and use the article "la" instead of "-o" and "el", and that Greek <ph> is written as <f> in Spanish, the word for phantom in Spanish is actually fantasma.
  • BioShock and BioShock 2 make the same Spanish/Italian mix-up as The Sims, with the El Ammo Bandito (rather than Bandido) bullet vending machines that play Spanish voice clips.

    Los Web Comicos 
  • This Penny Arcade strip. Gabe attempts to sneak back into EB store he's been banned from by putting on a fake beard and speaking Spanish. The clerk doesn't fall for it (though he gives Gabe credit for his "perfect Spanish"), but Tycho freaks out when Gabe comes back home, thinking it's a random stranger.
  • Goblins gives us Senor Vorpal Kickass'o!!! And no, that "n" isn't a typo. Justified in that it's a mockery of the names munchkin-type roleplayers come up with.
  • El Goonish Shive, on the title itself, though being a Word Salad Title, the "el" probably isn't meant to be interpreted as "the".

    Los Web Originales 

    Los Web Videos 
  • In Woke Up Dead, Andrew is talking trash to Drex and says, "You mess with the bull, you get the horns. Los hornitos!" (Doubly funny because "hornito" means "little oven" and so the phrase makes sense, but in a completely different way than intended.)
  • Super Best Friends Play has Woolie's alternate wrestling/rustling persona, "El Woolio".
  • The comedy video "English Words Stolen By Spanish" references this, or more specifically that Latin American Spanish uses a lot of English loanwords with just a Spanish accent and an extra vowel. One person refuses to believe that a way to say "truck" in some regions is literally just "trucka". It also references a similar form of "Spanish-ifying" words: adding "-ear" to the end of an English word.
  • In Red vs. Blue with Sarge trying to talk to Lopez 2.0.
    Sarge: Comm tower. Middle of the canyon. Repairo, los rapido.
    Grif: It's Spanish Sarge, not Harry Potter
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode "Bowser Junior Learns Spanish!", Jackie Chu teaches his students "Spanish" with this method, with Cody in disbelief. Later at a Mexican restaurant, Junior and Cody, the latter being reluctant, test out their "Spanish" only to find out that it actually worked.
  • When Takanashi Kiara and Amelia Watson of hololive EN played Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, they attempted rounds where one party would be speaking a language the other didn't understand. While Kiara spoke her native German, Amelia attempted to speak Spanish. Keyword being "attempted".
    Amelia: [trying to tell Kiara which buttons to push] "El squiggle". "El tridento".

    Los Westerno Animatios 
  • While talking to himself, Scaramouche says that when Aku finds out that "Jackio lost his sword-o, [he'll] be numero uno once more-o". He only got two words right of the Spanish language.
  • The Looney Tunes Merrie Melodies features a son named "Queso Bandito", an example as clear as day, as even the Spanish translation replaces every trace of the misspeled word "bandito" -the correct term would be "bandido"- for "El Roba Queso" (the cheese thief).
  • The titular El Super Beasto of The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Amusingly, the word for "beast" is female in Spanish.
  • Futurama:
    • In the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV", Bender does this after his atrocious (but successful) soap opera audition where he shows off his "flawless Spanish accent". He hugs Calculon and calls him "Father-o!"
    • In another episode, when Hermes and Bender try to pass the Mexican border, Bender claims that he can talk to the guard because they're both Mexican. After a rather poor attempt at the language, he gets hit with a guitar and exclaims, "Ouch-o!"
  • In South Park, Jimbo and Ned go to Mexico to buy "fireworks muy spectacularrrr" note 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Marge visits a spa called "Rancho Relaxo".
    • Bart has a graffiti spraying alter ego, "El Barto." Nobody ever figures out who it is. Homer once commented he suspected Milhouse was El Barto.
    • Homer once decided to ape Bart's alias (with dialogue indicating that he knew/found out that Bart = El Barto) and did some graffiti with the moniker "El Homo" until a gay Mexican man commended Homer for being "so brave". Homer quickly figured out what he meant, freaked out, and erased the tag. (The right way was "El Homero". Homero is the Spanish name for Homer. But as we know, Homer isn't the brightest bulb in the box...)
    • "Havana Wild Weekend" inverts this gag: while in Cuba, Bart paints "The Bart" on a building.
    • In "Grift Of The Magi" Bart and Lisa watch a Bumblebee Man sketch on TV. Bart switches it off, commenting that "Daytime TV is muy estupido."
  • Shake does it in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode, "Remooned", when he thinks a convenience store clerk is Mexican. "Get back there-o and cash-o the check-o, amigo."
  • In an episode of Archer Pam smokes a joint while receiving a massage and refers to the former as "El crónico"
  • One episode of Pinky and the Brain set in Spain has Pinky comment "El narfo!"
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Juandissimo's Rules book says "El Rules" note 
    • But only in "Fairy, Fairy, Quite Contrary". In "Remy Rides Again", his rulebook was called "Da Rules" like those carried by other fairies.
    • The Dutch translation has "los regels".
  • Used in the Speedy Gonzalez shorts, where for instance a box of matches is labeled "Matchos".
  • In Cow and Chicken, the Red Guy, attempting to track down Supercow, who only speaks (proper) Spanish, dresses up in a sombrero and holds maracas and goes up to the front door of the main characters' house. When Cow answers, he asks her if there's anyone she knows who speaks "El Española." Cow, of course, says she has no idea what he's talking about and slams the door on his face. Averted later in the same episode when Chicken is required to impersonate Supercow to rescue his captive sister - he speaks proper Spanish, albeit by reading directly from a Spanish-English dictionary and mangling the pronunciation horribly.
  • One episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers had a Spanish town beset by an angry bull named "El Emenopio"note 
  • Lloyd in Space - Francine becomes a masked luchador wrestler for the episode, and Eddie names her 'El Nina Diablo'. Douglas asks "is that proper grammar?"note  Eddie insists "bad grammar is scarier."
  • Angry Beavers: one episode, titled Norberto y Daggetto en El Grapadura y eTTl Castor Malo", has all the dialogue spoken in Spanish with English subtitles. In one scene, Daggett (playing the part of an evil scientist) explains his evil plan via a slide show, and every time he goes to the next slide he says "BEEP!" out loud, but the subtitles are written as "(El Beep-o!)".
  • The Proud Family:
    • Lacienega's family's last name Boulevardez is a corruption of "Boulevard" with "-ez" at the end to make it sound Spanish.note 
    • Louder and Prouder reveals that Lacienega has some relatives through her mom, Sunset's, side of the family who have the last name of "Avanúñez," which is just like "Boulevardez" but with "Avenue" in lieu of "Boulevard."note 
  • In Popeye episode "Toreadorable", Popeye eats "El Spinachio",note as shown in a placard in a market. The episode also shows "El Subway".note 

    El Realo Lifeo 
  • The fake Twitter account for Michael Bloomberg, @ElBloombito is entirely this.
    "Yo runningo para el presidente por que un billionairo de Nuevo Yorko esta exactlyo what el countryo needs ahora."
  • Spanglish is the blend of Spanish and English at different degrees. It is spoken by people who speak those two languages and mix them heavily, or whose normal language is different from that of the country where they live.
    • South America has another blend, Portuñol (Portuguese + Spanish), given that the most populous country, Brazil, was colonized by Portugal while most of the others were by Spain, and the trade activity between these countries is intense (and that counts the counterfeit products smuggled in from places like Paraguay, too).
    • Aside of that, Portuguese speakers may also humorously use a stereotypical pronunciation of Spanish, although in a different way, as both languages are very similar: instead of adding "-o" to the words, Portuguese speakers will likely use "-ie" and "-ue" in any word to mimic the Spanish pronunciation. For instance, "sorvete" [[note]]ice cream would become "sorviete"; note  "mundo" note  becomes "muendo" note  and so on. That is actually true for some words, such as "bem,"note  whose Spanish equivalent is "bien", or "pode,"note  which is "puede".
  • La Crescenta, California was named in this manner after some crescent-shaped rock formations by an early settler who wasn't very fluent in Spanish (El Creciente or La Medialuna would've been the more accurate translations).
  • There is a whole subset of gas stations throughout the United States called “El Cheapo.” Presumably La Gasolina Barata didn’t have quite the same ring.
  • Some translators match some English words with the most similar Spanish words even when that’s not always what it means in context. For example:
    • Assassin is often translated to Spanish as "Asesino" (killer or murderer) when actually the closer meaning would be "Sicario" (hitman).
    • Cult is often translated as "Culto" (worship), when in English really means something like the Spanish word "Secta" (religious cult, with specifically negative connotations).
    • Bizarre in English means weird and peculiar, and is often translated as "Bizarro" in Spanish that actually means "brave" (according to the official Spanish Royal Academy though, actually the popular use of the word is as in English thanks to Superfriends).
    • And probably one of the more complex examples; Molestation/Molested is sometimes translated as the Spanish verb "Molestar" which means "to disturb" or "to annoy" while in English it means sexual abuse. So "she was molested" in English and "Ella fue molestada" in Spanish have very different meanings.

Examples involving other languages:

  • A 2008-2009 commercial for McDonald's McCafé showed how much perkier ordinary tasks were when you said them with a French accent. A "chore" may be boring, but put an accent over that final (nominally silent) e and you get "choré" (cho-RAY), which just sounds like more fun.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: When Onizuka is pretending to be a Dirty Communist terrorist, he adds "-ski" to the end several words.
    Onizuka: Da to za revolution, you capitalist dogs! The Red Fang are here to liberate-ski the pro-liberal proletariat-ski! [...] Workers of the world, unite-ski! Uniglo-ski! [...] Shut up-ski!

  • Comedian Mike Birbiglia has a bit where he talks about having to deal with a Dunkin' Donuts employee who doesn't speak any English. He doesn't get how that happens; if he lived in Portugal and worked at "Dunkino Donutos", he imagines he would probably pick up a couple of words and phrases. Like "donutos", "chocolato coverado", "munchkinos", that sort of thing.
  • Henry Cho (Korean-American comedian born and raised in Knoxville, TN) did a bit about how he visited Korea. He was approached by an American tourist who spoke with him in loud pig-Korean English. "All the Korean people she could pull out of the crowd, she pulls me out of the crowd and goes: 'IS THIS BUSEY THAT GOESEY DOWNEY TOWNEY?' I looked at her and said (in his typical Southern drawl), 'I reckon so.'"
  • Steve Martin describes how a typical American tourist reacts in France when confronted by people, such as taxi drivers, who don't speak a word of English.
    Steve: So the first thing you do — this is really dumb, but you think it'll help — you adopt a French accent. "Ah would lahk to goeu to zee ho-tel!" And of course I got nothing out of that.

    Comic Books 
  • Italian comic book Sturmtruppen is almost completely written in fake German, that is, Italian with the suffix —en appended to every word, "F" instead of "V" and liberal use of "Ach!" and similar exclamations.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Pearls Before Swine comic strip had Pig trying to write a love letter to his girlfriend, Pigita, but was stuck on some ideas. Rat then suggests that Pig Italicize the letter. Pig takes Rat's advice then starts writing -O after every word.

    Films — Animation 
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted: In Monaco, the door to the power room has a "Le Power" sign on it. (Close enough; it's actually Le Pouvoir. Though it wouldn't be used for a power room, at all.)
  • In Cars, Lightning tries to explain to the Italian Guido that he doesn't need his pitstop services for the race, because the race is only one lap. "Uno lapo! Comprendo?"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Marx Brothers movies, Chico's pseudo-Italian accent is sometimes played as an accent, sometimes totally ignored (as in A Night at the Opera, where he has the accent even though all the other characters allegedly from Italy speak perfectly normal American English) and sometimes played as though he's actually trying to speak Italian (as in Duck Soup, where when asked about it while disguised as Groucho he says he might go to Italy someday and he's practicing the language).
  • In Addicted to Love, the protagonist's fiancé tries to explain why he dumped her:
    Charlie: I met this woman, this apparition, this goddesse.
    Kate: "Goddesse"?
    Charlie: It's French - for goddess.note 
  • In Top Secret!, a switch for an electric fence in East Germany would be labeled, "DAS FENCEN SWITCHEN".
  • In the Get Smart film, Max and 99 are investigating KAOS in Russia and go to a restaurant. Max starts making jokes by ending words in "-insk" to make them sound more Russian. 99 then makes a jab at Max by saying that she can eat bread with butter and remain "thinsk" (a jab at Max being extremely overweight before the events of the film). Subverted in that Max is fluent in Russian and many other languages, as the very next scene has him overhearing a conversation in Russian while taking a leak. To make sure the bad guys don't get suspicous, he pretends to be a dumb American tourist who doesn't speak a word of Russian.
  • In Stowaway (1936), utterly clueless Idle Rich playboy Tommy says things like "Me lookee buy" when attempting to buy a costume dragon head from a Shanghai merchant.
  • Hong Kong comedy film Beauty on Duty! has a scene where a Cantonese-speaking cop attempts to "speak" Mandarin by imitating some sounds and intonations, plus a light sprinkling of relatively accurate pronunciations for simple words like "thanks" and "bye".

  • Nanny Ogg in Witches Abroad plays this trope to a T.
  • In Dave Barry Does Japan, when remarking on the impenetrability of Japanese to an English speaker, he remarks that in Germany "one could see a sign for 'Goendownenundergroundenpayenfarenridearoundintrainen'note  and easily deduce that it means 'subway'." note 
  • In Homes and Other Black Holes, Dave Barry claims that the word lawn derives from the French l'awn, meaning "the awn".
  • In the P. G. Wodehouse novel Psmith, Journalist, this is how the office boy attempts to make himself understood by an Italian.
    Pugsy as interpreter was energetic but not wholly successful. He appeared to have a fixed idea that the Italian language was one easily mastered by the simple method of saying "da" instead of "the," and tacking on a final "a" to any word that seemed to him to need one.
  • Der Wizard in Ozzenland is a parody of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written entirely in faux German.
  • In The Turkish Gambit, when Varvara Suvorova finds herself stranded with no money or documents in a Bulgarian village, she attempts to encourage herself that Bulgarian language is simply Russian with "-ta" added to every word. Fortunately for her, she never gets to find out if it's true, because the first person she encounters speaks fluent Russian.
  • One Amelia's Notebook book had a doodle mocking this as something Amelia's not-too-bright older sister would do. "I like-o can-o speak Italiano?"
  • During If I Ran the Zoo, when Gerald claims to have brought an animal into his zoo from Russia, some of the words in his description end in "ski".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dharma & Greg has Dharma pulling this for fun, when she goes around and pretends to be a German tourist, using phrases such as "ein Donald Trumpen poofenschweater".
  • Are You Being Served?: A Japanese Tourist comes to Grace Brothers.
    Mr Lucas: What does the customer require, Captain Peacock?
    Capt Peacock: I'll try to find out.
    Mr Lucas: Yes, of course. You were out east weren't you?
    Capt Peacock: Mmm. [Beat] Whatee wantee?
  • In Friends, Joey shows off his terrible Italian accent: "That's-a what I suspected-a!"
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In one episode, a family of Koreans set up housekeeping in the middle of the camp. Henry tries to tell them to leave: "Go-ee home-ee!" Then he asks Radar to tell them to leave. So Radar does: "Go-ee home-ee!"note 
    • When the Greeks share their Easter celebration with the 4077, all Henry can say is "Happy Athens!", and as they bring the food crates in, Radar tells them "Put'em there-o." (not even "os".) note 
  • The Saturday Night Live sketch "J-Pop America Fun Time Now!" consists of clueless college students (played by Vanessa Bayer and Taran Killam) attempting to host a Japanese-style variety show/talk show, adding Japanese-sounding suffixes to English words and names, and causing general embarrassment to their Japanese studies professor (Jason Sudeikis), who repeatedly points out that these white kids don't understand Japanese culture at all and are, in fact, the worst students he's ever had in his class.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Backwards", Lister and the Cat arrive in England on the backwards Earth and believe they have landed in Bulgaria after finding a poster for Kryten and Rimmer as "Eht Lanoitasnes Esrever Srehtorb". They attempt to ask for a lift into town by saying "We're looking for our friends-ski... there's an address-ski here-ski? Maybe you could drop us off-ski."
  • In Horatio Hornblower, there are two lovely instances of mixing English with French, both courtesy of a sailor named Oldroyd from Horatio's division.
    • In "The Even Chance", Oldroyd instructs some French prisoners to come "this-a way-a", putting emphasis on the added syllable at the end, which is characteristic for French. They do actually understand him, but presumably because he was gesturing heavily, rather than because of anything he was saying.
    • In "The Frogs and the Lobsters", a French royalist soldier aboard the Indefatigable tries to take an officers' chicken which infuriates the common sailors, and they argue and fight violently with him. Oldroyd offers his most sincere advice: "No steal-ie, savvy! You steal-ie, get chop! plenty!! damn!! vite!!!" The ending is Punctuated! For! Emphasis!.
  • One episode of The Suite Life on Deck has Zack impersonate himself as a french artist to make money off of his modern art "paintings". He shushes the audience of his auction by saying:
    Zack: Le shh.
  • There was an episode of Saved by the Bell in which the Soviet chess champion comes to Bayside High to challenge Screech (and gets checkmated almost immediately). Before the match begins, Mr. Belding reminds the Commie-hating students that "the Russkis are our friendskis." Russki is correct, but what Belding really meant to say was tovarisch.
  • On an "Adventures with Bill" segment of The Red Green Show, Red refers to the choke on a lawnmower as the "choké", and says that it's a French word.
  • Sharpe has several examples, most of them involving Hagman.
    • When trying to get his boots repaired in Portugal:
      Hagman: How much to nailee the solee to me bootee?
      ** When managing French prisoners:
      Hagman: Alright, Commez-vous here, Frenchie!

  • Todd Rundgren titled his reprise of the song "International Feel" as "Le Feel Internacionale," managing to mash up French, Spanish, and Italian all in a short space.
  • At the end of the video for Bloodhound Gang's The Bad Touch (which was was filmed in Paris), one of the "monkeys" rolls over a midget. The car he drives has "Le Car" written on it.

  • One episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue had a game called "EU I-Spy". In the first round, Tim and Willie said the "I spy..." rhyme in schoolboy French, and were looking for something beginning with "L". Barry and Graeme started guessing "le microphone", "la table", etc. The answer turned out to be "le piano". In the second round, Barry and Graeme said the rhyme in appalling Spanish accents (with flamenco music!) and were also looking for "something, he begin hwith ... L". Willie immediately guessed "el piano".
  • A cutting on The News Quiz in 2006 described a court case in which a German sailor who spoke no English was on trial in Glasgow Sheriff's Court, and the sheriff didn't want to proceed without a translator. A "local character" claimed he spoke German and volunteered. Instructed to ask the man his name, he bellowed "Vat is your name?" in his best impression of a Gestapo agent in a war movie, and was fined £200 for contempt of court.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The GURPS Discworld sourcebook has the skill "Shouting at Foreigners". A successful roll enables the communication of one simple idea by speaking loudly and slowly in your own language with a few foreign words thrown in.
  • Paranoia:
    • In at least one edition, the Communists (who know they're supposed to be Russian, but don't know what "Russian" is) add -ski to the end of random words.
    • The Traitors Manual states that the Illuminati favor Latin codenames. Alas, knowledge of Latin is mostly lost, so they just add "-us" to the end of their names.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Signs such as "La Wet Peinte, No Le Touche" are common in Pepé Le Pew cartoons, and the female cat who inevitably ignores them says "le meow, le purr."
  • There was also a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon where they are in Venice, and a bridge has a sign saying "Ducka Your Head - Lowla Bridgeada" (the latter part also counting as a Shout-Out to Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida),note  onto which Sylvester ends up slamming for not playing attention while chasing Tweety.
  • On The Venture Brothers, Hank puts on a fake goatee and poses as "Russian Guyovitch" an exchange henchman. It fools both Sergeant Hatred and Brock, Hank's own bodyguard.
  • In Garfield and Friends, a disguised Garfield tries to convince Odie that he's Italian because "he's-a speaking-a Italian." When the Buddy Bears start to add "educational content" to the show and Garfield tries to repeat the scene, one of the Buddy Bears pops up to helpfully inform the viewer that Garfield is really speaking English with a bad Italian accent.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons where the Nuclear Power Plant is bought by Germans, Smithers learns "Sycophantic German" by tape. How do you say "You look sharp today, sir" in German? "You looken sharpen todayen mein Herr."
  • Buck Huckster attempts that in Beverly Hills Teens when speaking to the mayor of Pompei (he wants to buy the city to use as a stage set). He hangs up and says "I don't believe this guy. He doesn't even speak Italian."
  • In The Tick episode "Sidekicks Don't Kiss," the Big Bad is bent on world domination via reviving the Aztec nation (despite being not even remotely Aztec). To drive his fervor home, he tends to end words and sentences with "-itlan."
    Wally: We've prepared you for marriage-itlan. I sent for Carmelita-itlan with the intention of making her my bride-itlan. So since you're so fond-itlan of impersonating her-itlan, a bride-itlan you shall be-itlan!
    • Lampshaded later when a local remarks about them.
      Stranger: Oh, those "Aztecs." I hate those guys. Always with the "itlan, itlan, itlan." Ugh, how annoying.
  • In the What A Cartoon short "Zoonatics", a postmaster in Russia demands a package be sent back due to the "wrong addresski."
  • Mostly averted by Animaniacs during the Mindy & Buttons short Les Boutons et le Ballon, as the characters are shown to speak proper French. However, the Mime (in what is considered one of the few times he makes noises) inserts "le" before the only word he says in it.
    Mime: Le ow!

    Real Life 
  • English speakers are fond of using the "French" phrase Ooh la la!, pronounced "oo lah lah" to describe something sexual, probably because Everything Sounds Sexier in French. And yes, this is actually a commonly-used phrase in French, but it is "Ô là là," and has no sexual connotations at all (it means "dear me," literally 'oh there, there'), and is pronounced "Oh lah lah," with the stress on the first word rather than on the third.
  • When a Spanish speaker who cannot speak English tries to speak it, the usual is adding -ation (pronounced "eishon" o "eichon") to the end of Spanish words. Oddly, this actually works for some words that describe actions ("preocupación" ⇒ "preocupeichon" ⇒ "preocupation"). The massive number of French loanwords in English is to thank/blame here.
    • "The Inglétion"?
    • A famous example of this are Open English's ads which love depicting hilariously bad English as mangled this way. Example: Persueishon.
    • The same trope also applies to other languages besides English: Italian, with "I", German and Dutch with "-en" and Russian overstressing the "R" letters or adding an "ski" at the end.
    • Portuguese is treated as adding "-inho" or "-inha" at the end to everything. This actually causes a problem by mistaking "camisinha" as "shirt" when it actually means "condom".
    • An even older joke has a Spaniard who does not speak French but has to go to France. Before departing, he is told to speak Spanish but ending all words in "-é". The first day in France he gets in a restaurant and asks for a long list of dishes. The waiter then replies: "Lucky I'm from (Spanish town) myself, if not you'd have to be served by your fucking mother."
    • This phenomenon can happen to some Spanish dialects as well. In 2015, Valencia's Mayoress Rita Barberá became memetic in Spain due to her spectacularly failed attempt at giving a speech in Valencian, a language she clearly had no bloody clue about. She mixed words in Valencian and Spanish, other words were completely made up, and finally flavored the speech with the now infamous "caloret" (a non-existent word formed by "calor," Spanish for "heat", and "-et," a popular Valencian suffix which in this case is not the correct way to translate the word to the language).
  • Japanese has the same trope applied to the Chinese language, ending all the phrases with "-aru", and in less degree, when dealing with the Korean language, with "-nida". Needless to say, this is falling in disuse, since it's only used for comedy purposes and it's considered racist to use it outside comedy.
  • In the few areas where both English- and French-speaking Canadians live, if someone is not fluently bilingual, they will generally do this to some extent, applying blanket rules to words from their own language when trying to communicate in their non-native language. This may lead to English speakers trying out "French" words like "végétable" (instead of "légume") or "perspirer" (instead of "transpirer"), or French speakers inadvertently using overly formal (but valid) English words like "verify" (for "check") or "voyage" (for "travel").
  • The same sort of thing happens in Welsh: if an intermediate-level Welsh speaker is unsure of the correct Welsh verb, it's understood if they use the relevant English verb with the Welsh modifier "-io" on the end. The TV soap opera Pobol y Cwm can be full of this sort of thing when it goes through a phase of pitching to learners and intermediate-level speakers.
  • While it may seem a bit racist, if you ever find yourself lost in Japan and in need of help, saying whatever it is you're looking for in English but with an outrageous japanizu akusento can actually work. Japanese has a great many English loanwords, and most Japanese learn at least some English in school, but they really only understand it when spoken in their own accent, so mimicking their accent even somewhat can sometimes work.
  • Der Blinkenlichten, likely the best-known English-German example.
  • A lot of words in Spanish end with vowels (nouns and adjectives mostly). So, to show that a Spanish speaker really doesn't know any English, is to just cut out the final vowel. This is, of course, Truth in Television with some words (idiota-idiot, importante-important, inteligente-intelligent).
  • Hyperforeignism is a related version of this trope. It occurs when someone tries to pronounce a foreign word correctly by applying what they believe to be a proper "foreign" pronunciation, when actually the word is pronounced similarly to how they would normally pronounce it in their own language. Examples in English include:
    • Pronouncing Beijing as Beizhing (like the s in measure), when really it is a hard J sound similar to the way it is pronounced in English.
    • Pronouncing Habanero as Habañero (like "habanyero"). Possibly caused by confusion with Jalapeño, which actually does have a palatal ñ.
    • Pronouncing Kim Jong-un (president of North Korea) as Kim Yong-un. Again, the J is a hard J sound just like in English.
    • Probably one of the most well-known examples in English is the phrase "coup de grace", borrowed from French and used to denote a final killing blow. Pronounced correctly (coo de grahs, with a non-silent "s" sound on the end), it translates as "blow of mercy"; however, most English-speakers assume that the -ce suffix is supposed to be silent, and pronounce it "coo de grah". To a native French speaker, this doesn't actually mean anything, although it sounds a bit like "coup de gros" ("blow of fat", although "fat" in this case is an adjective, so it doesn't make much grammatical sense). Alternatively, if you have a bad pronunciation and pronounce "grace" the way it is pronounced in English, it is a dead ringer for "coup de graisse" (also "blow of fat", although this time it's a noun, so it actually sounds proper, albeit rather silly).
  • The French Renault 5 automobile was sold in the U.S. as the Le Car.
  • Sir Francis Drake, legendary British privateer and scourge of the Spanish Armada, was known as "El Draque" among Spaniard sailors.


Video Example(s):


El Grando Smokio

This line from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which combines this trope with Poirot Speak.

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Example of:

Main / GratuitousSpanish

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