Spain Glossary

Am I a Guiri?

Eleena’s recent article (9 Famous Living Spaniards that Every Guiri Should Know) got me thinking more about the G-word.

Guiri is a word applied by Spanish people to foreigners in Spain, but not to all foreigners, mostly just those from Western European countries, the States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand… you know, us palid blondies 🙂 There is a definite element of looking like a total tourist involved too (sunglasses, sunburn, camera round neck, silly sunhat, sandals), though this isn’t essential.

A question that worried me for a long time was whether or not it is actually a bad thing to be called a Guiri. I remember how Marina’s sister once called me Guiri not long after Marina and I had started going out, and I took huge offense.

Yet at a party on Saturday night old friends of Marina’s were bandying the word around all evening and it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I’ve started using the word quite a lot myself to talk about my fellow foreigners.

Being called a Guiri, I’ve discovered, is only a bad thing if it is said with spite (which is only about 20% of the time). Usually, however, it’s a friendly kind of a word, not nearly as demeaning as the way us Brits used to call the French ‘frogs’.

I think I am a bit of a guiri (despite my best efforts to Spanishify myself), especially in summer when I don much of the requisite kit (camera, shades, silly hat), but nowadays I really don’t mind in the least. Does the Guiri label bother you?

Notes: Frikipedia, something of a Spanish Urban Dictionary, has a great Guiri rundown in Spanish. Other classics include Gilipollas. As for the Urban Dicationary, see the entry on Spain, e.g.: “Spain: Builds SEAT cars, which are cheap but fun – Has gypsies who live in caves furnished with TVs, fridges, etc – Sells beer in McDonalds – Has awesome food and wine, making one realize the necessity of a siesta.” No comment.