English has been my primary language all of my life. It is a complex and intricate language that has many quirks, weird rules, and amusing tongue-twisters. Recently, I started brushing up on my Spanish, and I have come to learn it has many tongue-twisters in that language. One of these is "Parangaricutirimicuaro" (PAR-an-GAR-ee-COO-tee-REE-mee-KWAR-O), as in Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro, which is an otherwise inconspicuous town located in the Mexican state of Michoacán, close to the Parícutin volcano.

Say what?

The best word in the English language I can equate to "Parangaricutirimicuaro" is "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Both can be difficult to say and are also used rather comically.

Parangaricutirimicuaro is often used when one is being mimicked by someone else and they want to trip them up. This can be especially useful if you are a fluent Spanish speaker, or at least have practiced this word a lot! It is also used in longer tongue-twisters that utilize variations of it to make ridiculous words and phrases that don't mean anything but can still be fun to pronounce. One of the easier examples of these is:

  • "El pueblo de Parangaricutirimicuaro se va a desparangaricutirimicuarizar. Quien logre desparangaricutirimicuarizarlo gran desparangaricutirimicuarizador será."

How popular is Parangaricutirimicuaro?

It may not be as widely popular as the Running of the Balls event that has grown out of the more treacherous bull-evading festival; however, Parangaricutirimicuaro is still quite popular in the Spanish-speaking world.

You might be wondering how widespread the knowledge of Parangaricutirimicuaro is? I may just be a Texan who doesn't know as much Spanish as he probably should, but I am willing to bet a majority of Spanish Speakers from the Americas know about it. I was told about it by my Ecuadorian coworker, and he spoke of how it is a part of Spanish culture, like El Chavo del Ocho or something like that.

After he taught it to me, a different coworker, who is from Puerto Rico, was walking by, and he asked if she knew about it. Not only did her face light up the second she heard it, she started to sing the song that was made about it from before my time.

If you are wondering where to travel to since Cancun and Los Cabos might not be ideal destinations right now, why not visit Parangaricutirimicuaro?

It is full of history, and you will then be able to say you visited the place that is the cultural starting point for this tongue-twister! If not, then at least now you know about Parangaricutirimicuaro. Since I learned about it, I have asked every Spanish speaker I know if they are familiar with it, and I have yet to find any that don't know about it. Do you know any Spanish speakers that don't know Parangaricutirimicuaro? Or are you a Spanish speaker that is unfamiliar with it? Maybe you know of more Spanish tongue-twisters. Let me know in the comments below!