Guest Post – Spanish Stereotypes

Almost everyone has applied a stereotype to others in order to simplify their social lives, since they reduce the amount of processing required when we meet a new person. At the same time, however, almost everyone has been shoved into a stereotypical category at one point or another, and usually no one likes it.

It isn’t easy to refrain from using any stereotypes at all, mainly because some we apply unconsciously, unaware that our brain has stored this information and is using it to simplify the process of sorting out the new people we meet. In order to avoid using these unconscious stereotype, the first step is to become aware of what they are. Thanks to Elm, who has been extremely lovely in letting me do a guest post on her blog, I now have the chance to do just that. As a Spaniard, I am going to take this chance to sort the main stereotypes about Spain into two groups: True and Untrue. Enjoy!

I won’t stand the way I’m classified

I ain’t no stereotype

Stereotype – Oxymoron

1.      We all know how to dance the Flamenco: Untrue. This dance comes from the south of Spain, and not even all those who come from that area know how to dance it. Moreover, flamenco is hardly the only dance native to Spain. There are many, many other regional dances that are just as enchanting: In Madrid, it’s the chotis; in Galicia, the muñeira; the jota in Aragón and the sardana in Catalonia, just to give a few examples.

2.      We drink a lot: Kind of true. We drink more per day than a lot of other countries, but that’s just because wine is a part of our culture. Also, our wine is great, so yeah. We do have A LOT of bars, but again, that’s a cultural thing. We don’t go to bars to drink, but rather to meet friends and spend time with them there. Oh, and btw, we don’t spend half our lives drinking sangría: that’s a summer drink. We usually prefer wine or beer, most of our sangría is consumed by tourists.

3.      We don’t like to work because we are just plain lazy and would rather siesta: Very untrue! Siesta is a cultural thing that arose from the fact that after lunch it is usually very hot in Spain, so much so that working can be dangerous because of the heat. However, nowadays, most of us are working at midday (from 1pm to 4pm for us) and only the very young and the retired are able to enjoy a true daily siesta. The rest of us must work, if we can, especially now seeing the economic state we’re in – but that’s another story. And anyway, our work has provided pretty good results over the years – check out this list of Spanish inventions (to name a few)!

  • The submarine
  • The mop
  • The lollipop
  • The stapler
  • The calculator
  • The helicopter

4.      We are touchy-feely and VERY LOUD: True. We like to give hugs. We kiss upon meeting new people, AND when we say goodbye. Also, we always kiss each other from right to left, exactly the opposite of the French. As for Spanish speakers being loud, my theory is that this is actually a combination of short, rapid syllables (whereas other languages have short and loner syllables and therefore a more leisurely pace) and its construction based on basic vowels combined with subdued consonants, which means that the language is fitted with a built-in amplifier.

5.      Everybody in Spain loves bullfighting: Untrue, and be very careful with this if you ever travel to Spain, for it is a very controversial topic. There are those who defend bullfighting as cultural patrimony, yes, but there are also anti-bullfighting associations throughout the country, and in regions like Catalonia and the Canaries bullfights are prohibited.

6.      Our English is terrible: Truer than it should be. In Spain, most films and TV shows are dubbed, as opposed to just adding subtitles, which means that it is more difficult for us to develop a good ear and become familiar with the intonations of English. Also, Spanish is very phonetic in writing, whereas English isn’t. This creates and important learning barrier for us Spaniards which is hard to overcome. Spaniards also tend to have a hard time with English because we are terrified of looking ridiculous, which doesn’t usually push us towards trying out our new language skills.

7.      We thrive on tacos, burritos and quesadillas: Untrue. News flash: This is not Mexico. We may speak the same language, but that doesn’t mean that we eat the same food, nor that we sing rancheras. Contrary to what they thought in “How I Met Your Mother” and “Modern Family,” in Spain there are no mariachis.


38 thoughts on “Guest Post – Spanish Stereotypes

  1. Oh my God. I never thought that people actually thought these. I thought that they were joking. But I agree that stereotypes are really common and for me personally quite funny because of how wrong they are

  2. Spanish food is soo good. Obviously, you dont just eat these foods unless your me, I just eat on a loop

  3. OH MY GOSH I TOTALLY GET THIS STEREOTYPE THING! I’m half Thai, but a few people tend to collectivise Asian people in general as ‘Asian’, without thinking about a country’s individual culture etc. A group of boys decided that I was Japanese, and decided to follow me round a supermarket saying ‘Koneechiwa’ (sorry I don’t know how to spell it). Not fun. Fab post by the way!

  4. Hi Elm or something,
    I’m a sort of British ex-pat in Spain, (for forty years now ,so I feel more like an ‘XXpat’ . I really do cringe when I have to defend Spanish people and Spain against some of these ridiculous stereotype ideas that some Brits have. It’s so, so annoying!
    Regards, Marie

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