You May Be Spelling CD-ROM Wrong

PHOTO: The new AP Spanish-language style guide says the correct spelling of CD-ROM in Spanish is cederrón.

Flickr/null66913

Do you drive a picop? Eat sándwiches de rosbif? Do you still own any cederrones? If these words don't sound familiar to you, that's because yesterday, the Associated Press released their first-ever Spanish language style guide, and set us all straight on the proper usage of some of Español's newest words.

In case there's any confusion, picop is AP's official Spanish-language word for what many call a camioneta or pick-up truck, rosbif is their official spelling for "roast beef" in Spanish. And cederrón? That means CD-ROM. Duh.

Gathered in the auditorium of the prestigious Columbia Journalism School, some of the leading Spanish-language journalists sat down on Monday evening to discuss the finer points of the "language of Cervantes" and the AP stylebook -- which they describe as the "journalist's bible." Debate over the AP's continued use of term "illegal immigrant" dominated much of the event. But the most lively part of the evening was the presentation of words with roots in modern-day English -- or "estadunidismos," as the new Stylebook calls them.

If the Spanish-language style guide is to be our bible, then Monday evening's Moses was surely Argentine journalist Jorge Ignacio Covarrubias who has worked with the AP for more than 40 years and helped put together the new stylebook. The white-haired Covarrubias handed down to us such words as zapeo for channel surfing, cibersitio for website, pipermín for peppermint, ofimática for computer system for office management (like Word), and vermú for vermouth -- all in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. (Can we please call it a Powerrpoín?)

But not all Spanglish words are fair game, according to Covarrubias. For example, the AP recommends against using parada to mean parade. The word "parada" has historically been used to mean "stop", but many modern-day Spanish speakers have started using it to also mean parade. The AP suggests that writers instead use "desfile."

Many regionalisms are also discouraged. Autobús is the preferred term for bus, although some countries use guagua and others say colectivo. But, after lengthy discussion of the Spanish word for "drinking straw," (pajita vs. popote vs. canuto), no consensus has yet been reached, said Covarrubias.

Not everybody was happy about all of the AP's decisions. Laura Martínez, a bilingual blogger who writes about Hispanic media, tweeted "Cervantes is probably revolcándose en la tumba tras escuchar el tema ése del "cederrón"," which translates to "Cervantes is probably turning over in his grave after hearing the thing about the 'cederrón'"

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