New York cop punished for speaking Spanish

A New York Police Department officer has been hit with an official reprimand for violating the 'English-only' workplace rule after speaking a single sentence in Spanish.

New York cop punished for speaking Spanish
One third of police officers in New York are Hispanic. Photo: Flickr/scarknee

Jessenia Guzman, who has 13 years on the beat behind her, was slapped with a permanent reprimand placed on her record after responding casually in Spanish to a passing comment, also made in Spanish, "from a colleague on her way to get a coffee".

New York Police Department (NYPD) policy states, however, that officers are "required to communicate department business in the language of English".

An NYPD spokeswoman defended the policy, telling the New York Daily News: “We should be speaking one voice, which is English.”

Guzman is a native of New York but has family ties to the Dominican Republic.

One in three NYPD officers is Hispanic and one in five was born outside the United States.

National Latino Officers Association Director Anthony Miranda claimed that the policy is not meant to apply to "cursory greetings to co-workers".

He told NY Daily News that the four-year-old policy has only been enforced recently and cited inconsistencies, such as the fact that the officer who originally spoke to Guzman in Spanish was not reprimanded.

"It used to be a joke, when white supervisors went around and said, 'Hey, speak English,'" said Miranda.

"Now they’ve made it a rule."

Guzman has filed two federal equal opportunity complaints against the superior officer who reprimanded her.

The Spanish language hit US headlines for more positive reasons this week when the Cervantes Institute opened a Spanish-language think tank within the prestigious Harvard University.

This think tank is a first for the Cervantes Institute, a Spanish government organization which promotes both the Spanish language and Spanish Culture around the world.

Writing in Spanish daily El Confidential, José Antonio Gurpegui said the Institute should become the cultural flagship for 'Brand Spain'.

Almost 500 American students are enrolled in Hispanic studies programmes in Madrid's Instituto Franklin at the University of Alcalá de Henares and many others attend universities all across Spain.

The blog's author, director of North American studies at the university, said that "Spanish is our most valuable cultural, historical, and economic asset."

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The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia

Even if you speak Spanish, if you're living in Catalonia, it's a good idea to learn some Catalan too. Here are some basic phrases you need to get by.

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia
Image: Photos_Marta/ Pixabay

While everyone in the bigger Catalan cities such as Barcelona or Tarragona will speak Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some Catalan too.

Not only is this sure to win you some brownie points with the locals, but it will enrich your experience of living in the region and allow you to make new friends. This is particularly true when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in rural Catalonia too.


Greetings are a great way to start out practicing your Catalan. Your neighbours will be delighted and appreciate greetings in their local language. Because the phrases are short, they’re easy to remember and don’t invite long answers that you won’t be able to understand.

Bon dia – Good day

This phrase is used all the time in Catalonia, even more so than ‘Hola’. You would use it for greeting someone anytime up until the afternoon, after which you would say 'Bona tarda'. 

Encantat! Molt de gust! – Pleased to meet you.

Com estás? – How are you?

Bona nit – Good night

Greetings in Catalan. Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels


Being polite

Another very easy way to slip in some Catalan here and there is to use it in small polite phrases. Even if you don’t know the Catalan for the whole phrase, you could easily add please or thank you on the end.

Si us plau – Please

Moltes gràcies – Thank you very much

De res – You’re welcome

Saying thank you in Catalan. Image: Ka Young Seo / Pixabay 

Eating out

When you’re a bit more confident with your Catalan, eating out is the perfect time to put it all into practice. You don’t have to keep the conversation going a long time and there are particular useful phrases that you can memorise.  

Teniu una taula per dos? – Do you have a table for two?

La carta, si us plau – The menu please

El comte, si us plau – The bill please

No puc menjar… – I can’t eat…
This one may be useful if there’s something that you’re allergic to or can’t eat, such as gluten or dairy for example.

Eating out. Image: Ji-yeon Yun / Pixabay 


Like eating out, shopping is another perfect chance to put your Catalan out in the real world.

Quant costa això? – How much does that cost?

Tens un altre color? – Do you have a different colour?

Tens una talla més gran/petita? – Do you have a bigger/smaller size?

Pots ajudar-me? – Can you help me?


READ MORE: Ten colourful Catalan phrases you should learn right now