Why You Should Not Introducir Your Friends 6


mad scientist

Mad Scientist Courtesy of Jennifer Rouse, Flikr CC

Don’t be too surprised if the room grows quiet after you announce in Spanish that you want to introduce Manuel to Dorita. You just stepped in a false cognate and it smells really bad.

False cognates are those lovely words that sound just like English, but mean something different. The Spanish Introducir does not mean to present one person to another – using it like that creates  a definite *snicker* occasion, because the Spanish introducir  uses the less common meanings of our English “introduce:” “to insert,” “to put,” “to place,” to bring into,” “to bring change,” and a use we don’t make of it: “to enter” when it is reflexive. But mostly, to insert. (*snicker*)

 As in, “Fearful of an explosion, the scientist slowly introduced the acid into the solution.”
Or, “Introduce your ATM card and follow the instructions.”
Or  “The zookeepers were careful to introduce new specimens into the ape cage slowly.”
Or, “Customs officials are wise to the trick of introducing drugs into the bottom of statues.”
Or “With the arrival of Europeans, smallpox was introduced to the population of the Americas.”
Or, “Electricity introduced the possibility of night work.”
And finally, the “foreign” use: “The kids got into(introduced themselves) the movie theatre via the alley door.”

Introducir works just fine when it’s used for sentences like that. Scary.

The word you want when you’d like friends to know each other is presentar.  “Dorita, le presento a mi amigo Manuel.”  Or make it easy on yourself and just say, “Dorita, esto es mi amigo, Manuel.”  It might not be the most elegant Spanish, but it will get the job done and no one will *snicker.*

Yes, introducir can make you  feel embarrassed, but if you announce that fact by stating you’re embarazada, you’ve just stepped in deeper.  THAT word means “pregnant.”  If you are a young, unmarried woman of childbearing age, people might take you seriously.  But If you happen to be a guy, well… just turn red and be done with it.

In either case, not so good.  Unless you really are.  Female and pregnant, that is.  And announcing the happy event.

Otherwise, the word you want there is avergonzado (or avergonzada if you’re female).  You won’t hear the locals using it much though, as the meaning is a bit stronger in Spanish. It means “shamed.”

So if you are of legal age and  embarazada because you went to la clinica and los medicos introducen un bebe, you have nothing to be avergonzada about.

Linguistically, anyway.


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