Are there any other language lovers out there? It sounds so strange to some people, but I absolutely love to listen to languages as they are spoken. Something about the tone, smoothness and flow of the words absolutely fascinates me! And as I sit and listen to a conversation between two native Spanish-speakers, I cannot help but wonder if they feel the same way about the language I natively speak.

I have always been fascinated by languages and how they differ. How something as simple as an accent can tell you a lot about a speaker and how word use can tell you even more. And while I have always admired those who speak more than one language, I never truly thought I was capable of learning anything other than English.

Like many others, I took two years of Spanish in high school and then another two years in college and I struggled through all of them! One would think I would have enjoyed those classes- I had excellent teachers and professors and a natural fascination. But, instead, I found myself struggling to conjugate verbs or even structure a sentence properly. I felt like a linguistical failure and lacked the confidence to even attempt carrying on a conversation with a native Spanish speaker.

The Cutest Abuela

For years I found myself nervous to engage in conversation in Spanish with Spanish-speakers. That is, until the cutest little Spanish speaking grandma came into my store.

I adore abuelas and abuelos (grandmas and grandpas). They are full of life experiences and wisdom and share it in such meaningful ways.

But this little abuela was fiery and bold, the kind that makes me absolutely certain that she demands excellence of herself and of others. When she walked in she demanded (in Spanish) to know if I spoke Spanish. I hesitated and gave my typical response of “muy pocito”. (very little)

She tilted her head, narrowed her dark brown eyes and demanded of me, in English, “You learn.”

In that moment I knew she was right. I needed to learn. I needed to learn to have the confidence in the skills I did have and grow them into more. And from that day on I began challenging myself to practice my Spanish with any and every Spanish-speaker that walked in my door. In fact, I have made countless memorials featuring written Spanish like this one.

Manjarrez Memorial featuring a colored, stainless steel photo in-lay

The Spanish-speaking community is amazing, by the way. They love sharing their language and culture and are always incredibly helpful and kind when I don’t know a word or struggle to remember how to put together numbers.

I have learned so much from them and want to share a few vocabulary words for those who also love language. In school you may have learned general vocabulary words about basic household, weather, business, etc, but I am willing to bet you never learned any vocabulary associated with cemeteries and headstones! I know I didn’t!

Basic Cemetery Vocabulary- In Spanish!

But here is a helpful guide. If you are a native Spanish speaker and know of other words for these items, drop a comment and tell me what they are! I would love to learn what you call them!

Cemetery– la cemeteria

Headstone – la lapida (pronounced lap-ee-da)

Most commonly my Spanish speakers refer to the headstones as “las lapidas”, but sometimes I have families that call them “los monumentos”. Perhaps there are other terms for them that I am not familiar with.

Upright monuments (those that stand up in the cemetery) are typically made of two parts- a top (called a tablet) and a bottom (called a base). In Spanish I have heard them called a few different things but most commonly:

Top: la cima (pronounced see-ma)

Base: el base (pronounced b-o-se)

Engraving: el grabado (pronounced gra-ba-do)

Flower pot: el florero

I am so thankful for that sweet little abuela who pushed me to learn- she made a difference in my life and doesn’t even know it!

Who are some strangers that have made an impact on your life?

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