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People all over the world are in contact with people who speak other languages. Much of the time however they cannot actually speak other people's languages. Sometimes, usually as a joke, they will try to "speak" the language by taking words in their own language and then adding stereotypical linguistic markers of the target language in an attempt to fake it.

This is usually a joke, but sometimes it's just plain desperation, if not outright insensitivity. In the U.S., Spanish is the language that most commonly gets this treatment, with the article "el" being put in front of English words and the masculine ending "-o" being put on the end. For example, an English speaker who wanted beer might ask a Spanish-speaker for "el beero". Other languages get this treatment too. Russian, for example, gets "-ski" added to the end of English words, ditto French with "-é" and Latin with "-us".

Actually has a small bit of Truth in Television, as some Spanish words are English loanwords with articles tacked on, such as "El Jazz", "La Radio", and "El Golf".

Please keep in mind, this trope is not about using complete gibberish and passing it off as a foreign language. This trope is all about using real aspects of a foreign language (or possibly just what someone thinks is a real aspect of a foreign langauge) in your native tongue in an attempt to pass it off as the foreign language.

Sister trope to Canis Latinicus. Compare to As Long as It Sounds Foreign, which is an attempt to actually use the real language, but getting it right isn't important. Also compare to Gratuitous Foreign Language (which is correct use of other languages) and Poirot Speak. Not to be confused with "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Nino", which is using correct foreign words, but deliberately not translating them in a context where you normally would.

Examples of El Spanish-O include:

Examples involving Spanish

  • You can call him "El duderino", if you're not into the whole brevity thing.
    • The Castillian Spanish dub uses "El Nota" throughout the movie and "El Notarino" in this quote, if you must know.
  • This Penny Arcade strip.
  • One episode of The Muppet Show had the Porcelino brothers call their muppet pyramid "el pyramido". (The real words are "la pirámide".)
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: "Honey, adding '-ito' to something does not make it Spanish!"
  • Goblins gives us Senor Vorpal Kickass'o!!! And no, that "n" isn't a typo.
    • Justified in that it's a mockery of the names munchkin type roleplayers come up with.
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has one mission where Big Smoke is trying to negotiate with some Mexican gangsters, before he loses his patience and demands, "Cough-io - up el weedo - before I blow your brains out all over the patio!"
  • El Superbeasto!
  • One mod on a Sim City website once mentioned an "El Stoppo". Funnily enough, a red, octagonal stop sign is called "el stop". (Pronounced "el estop".)
  • The Mexican has a scene where a character says "I need a ride in your El Truck-o to the next town-o."
  • Bill Cosby has a routine where he pretty much spells out this trope verbatim. And then says when they still can't understand you, you just start saying it LOUDER.
  • Larry the Cable Guy, when introducing the song "I Believe," says, "Or, in the Spanish, el believe-o."
  • In the Horatio Hornblower books, there are a number of occasions where British sailors and officers gamely attempt to communicate with Spanish, French, or Italian people (either their prisoners, or their erstwhile allies, depending on what is going on) by speaking slowly and adding vowels to the ends of their words. It generally doesn't work.
    • In one of the Hornblower television movies, a British sailor instructs some French prisoners to come "this-a way-e". They do actually understand his instructions, but presumably because he was gesturing heavily, rather than because of anything he was saying.
  • A commercial (about racism) where it's played for drama when a woman in a restaurant sees a Mexican-American and starts speaking "El Spanisho", which offends her friends.
    • Anyone remember it with more detail?
  • In Terminator 2, John teaches Arnold to say "no problemo" (which isn't right; the correct way to say "no problem" would be "no hay problema" or "ningún problema"). John also teaches him "Hásta la vista," which actually is correct (roughly, it means "See you later").
  • In the Futurama episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV", Bender does this after his atrocious (but successful) soap opera audition where he shows off his "flawless Spanish accent". He hugs Calculon and calls him "Father-o!"
    • In another episode, when Hermes and Bender try to pass the Mexican border, Bender claims that he can talk to the guard because they're both Mexican. After a rather poor attempt at the language, he gets hit with a guitar and exclaims, "Ouch-o!"
  • The Simpsons: Bart has a graffiti spraying alter ego, "El Barto." Nobody ever figures out who it is.
    • Homer once did some graffiti with the moniker "El Homo" until a gay Mexican man commended Homer for being open with his sexuality. Homer freaked out and erased the tag.
  • Shake does it in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode, "Remooned", when he thinks a convenience store clerk is Mexican. "Get back there-o and cash-o the check-o, amigo."
  • In Avatar the Abridged Series" Spanish is rendered mostly as English with "El" tacked on. "El Gasp!" Sometimes they also add "-o" to the end of words and maybe put in a real Spanish word in there. Sokka attempting to communicate with an inexplicably Spanish Momo: "Necessito... open-o el door-o."
  • On an episode of 18 Kids And Counting in which the Duggar family makes a mission trip to El Salvador, Jim Bob says, "Back-o out of the way-o."
  • When a Spanish speaker who cannot speak English tries to speak it, the usual is adding -ation (pronounced "eishon") to the end of Spanish words.
  • Arguably, the name of El Goonish Shive was made this way.
  • It's been done at least a couple of times by contestants on The Amazing Race.
  • One episode of Pinky and The Brain set in Spain has Pinky comment "El narfo!"
  • Arrested Development has an episode where George Bluth is mistaken for his identical twin brother while in Mexico. He tries to explain that they want his "brothero." It's even funnier that he puts the accent over the "e" (like you would if it were a real word in Spanish), so he's saying "bro-thero" instead of "brother-o".
  • Airplane! gave us the sign "El No a You Smoke-O" (there was also 'Putana Da Seatbeltz" probably spoofing Italian).
  • Like most Flemish comics Jommeke uses a slightly different convention: adding -os to every other word.
  • This is a Verbal Tic for the man in black in Futari wa Pretty Cure Dragon, who's as much a Politically-Incorrect Villain as is possible for a Pretty Cure fanseries. It also gets him tagged with the rather insulting nickname "super spade"; the fact that he acts like a lunatic and dresses like a mariachi doesn't help matters either (and Word of God says the man in black is not a Mexican in the loosest sense of the word).
  • In The Fairly Odd Parents Wandissimo's Rules book says "El Rules" [1]

Examples involving other languages


 Mr Lucas: What does the customer require, Captain Peacock?

Capt Peacock: I'll try to find out.

Mr Lucas: Yes, of course. You were out east weren't you?

Capt Peacock: Mmm. Beat Whatee wantee?

  • In at least one editon of Paranoia, the Communists (who know they're supposed to be Russian, but don't know what "Russian" is) add -ski to the end of random words.
  • Signs such as "Wette Painte, No Le Touche" are common in Pepe Le Pew cartoons, and the female cat who inevitably ignores them says "le meow, le purr."
  • In Friends, Joey shows off his terrible Italian accent: "That's-a what I suspected-a!"
  • Nanny Ogg in Witches Abroad plays this trope to a T.
  • In one episode of MASH a family of Koreans set up housekeeping in the middle of the camp. Henry tries to tell them to leave: "Go-ee home-ee!" Then he asks Radar to tell then to leave. So Radar does: "Go-ee home-ee!"
  • A Pearls Before Swine comic strip had Pig trying to write a love letter to his girlfriend, Pigita, but was stuck on some ideas. Rat then suggests that Pig Italicize the letter. Pig takes Rat's advice then starts writing -O after every word.
  • In Dave Barry Does Japan, when remarking on the impenetrability of Japanese to an English speaker, he remarks that in Germany "one could see a sign for 'Goendownenundergroundenpayenfarenridearoundintrainen'[2] and easily deduce that it means 'subway'." [3]
  • In The Marx Brothers movies, Chico's pseudo-Italian accent is sometimes played as an accent, sometimes totally ignored (as in A Night at the Opera, where he has the accent even though all the other characters allegedly from Italy speak perfectly normal American English) and sometimes played as though he's actually trying to speak Italian (as in Duck Soup, where when asked about it while disguised as Groucho he says he might go to Italy someday and he's practicing the language).
  • In the PG Wodehouse novel Psmith, Journalist, this is how the office boy attempts to make himself understood by an Italian.

 Pugsy as interpreter was energetic but not wholly successful. He appeared to have a fixed idea that the Italian language was one easily mastered by the simple method of saying "da" instead of "the," and tacking on a final "a" to any word that seemed to him to need one.

  • The Saturday Night Live sketch "J-Pop America Fun Time Now!" consists of clueless college students (played by Vanessa Bayer and Taran Killam) attempting to host a Japanese-style variety show/talk show, adding Japanese-sounding suffixes to English words and names, and causing general embarrassment to their Japanese studies professor (Jason Sudeikis), who repeatedly points out that these white kids don't understand Japanese culture at all and are, in fact, the worst students he's ever had in his class.
  • In Garfield and Friends, a disguised Garfield tries to convince Odie that he's Italian because "he's-a speaking-a Italian." When the Buddy Bears start to add "educational content" to the show and Garfield tries to repeat the scene, one of the Buddy Bears pops up to helpfully inform the viewer that Garfield is really speaking English with a bad Italian accent.
  • In Addicted to Love, the protagonist's fiance tries to explain why he dumped her:

 Charlie: I met this woman, this apparition, this goddesse.

Kate: "Goddesse"?

Charlie: It's French - for goddess. (It isn't.)

  • The trope name Les Cops Sportif.
  • A 2008-2009 commercial for McDonald's McCafé showed how much perkier ordinary tasks were when you said them with a French accent. A "chore" may be boring, but put an accent over that final (nominally silent) e and you get "choré" (cho-RAY), which just sounds like more fun.
  • Comedian Mike Birbiglia has a bit where he talks about having to deal with a Dunkin' Donuts employee who doesn't speak any English. He doesn't get how that happens; if he lived in Portugal and worked at "Dunkino Donutos", he imagines he would probably pick up a couple of words and phrases. "A customer would be like, 'Blah blah blah, donutos!', and I'd say 'Right away, sir! And here's a couple extra donutos, on the houso!"
  1. "Las Rules" would have been better.
  2. Go down underground, pay fare, ride around in train
  3. The actual German word for "subway" is U-Bahn, a shortening of Untergrundbahn or underground railroad.