1. No pasa nada.
Direct Translation: Nothing is wrong.
Functional Translation: An excuse and dismissal of nearly every negative situation. It’s the perfect way to pacify any qualms one might have over a poor test score, an exceptional lack of punctuality, or a few broken dishes. This brush-off-the-shoulder phrase is a perfect representation of the lenient fluidity with which Spanish people live. Rather than getting stressed or angered from a less-than-ideal situation, Spaniards stop taking life too seriously and accept all things with an agreeable shrug and a “no pasa nada.”
Direct Translation: Okay.
Functional Translation: The only way to insure the person with whom you are talking is able to keep up with the rapidity of your words and the ambiguity of your hand gestures. “Vale” is used nearly every time a Spanish speaker is finished talking, and I required only one day in Spain to accept the word as a verbal punctuation mark. That being said, the word itself is not nearly as culturally representative as the way in which it is said. What I hope to bring back to the United States is the excitement with which Spanish people conclude their sentences; the slight smile they get every time they phonetically punctuate; and the sense of adventure that follows every vale.
3. Más cositas.
Direct Translation: More little things.
Functional Translation: The best way to prepare an audience for the important information coming in the least assuming way. This phrase is used in every meeting, in every lecture, in every discourse when the audience is fading and one needs to regain its attention. How unassuming and pleasant to hear the phrase “más cositas” rather than “get ready for more because I’m not done yet.” Again, this phrase is representative of the flexible lifestyle of Spaniards and their ability to overcome the severity of life and accept even the most mundane or serious situations with a shrug and a grin.