Take the 2-minute tour ×
Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the most universal Spanish word to describe a possum? What regional variations exist? Does the translation refer specifically to the same animal as the English word, or does it cover a larger variety of animals?

share|improve this question
4  
I'm pretty sure the English word already refers to more than one different animal in English. The possums in Australia are not the same as the ones in America. –  hippietrail Jan 13 '12 at 8:46
4  
This wannabe Latinist saw the headline and immediately thought "puedo!" –  Michael Wolf Jan 21 '12 at 2:13
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Technically, "possum" refers to species of the suborder Phalangeriformes, distributed in Australia. However, "opossums" are also commonly called possums (in America). So, "Falangero" is correct for "possum", and it's derived from the latin name of the suborder they belong (Phalangeriformes). Anyway, I guess possums are not quite common animals. For "opossum" the spanish word is "zarigüeya". "Zarigüeyas" are common and well known animals in America (only american marsupials). So, it depends on what animal are you really refering to.

Anyway, I think "posum" is totally understandable, and if you check in spanish wikipedia for "posum", you get the correct answer. I just ask to a couple of friends (spanish native speakears too) about the meaning of "Los falangeros viven en Australia" y "Los posums viven en australia". Falangeros in the first sentence isn't uniquely associated with an animal, but posum is. I also think in some contexts, "falangero" could be easily interpreted as "thief" rather than an unknown animal, for people ignoring the real meaning of the word. Again, it's not a common animal.

share|improve this answer
add comment

My Larousse Gran Diccionario lists two Spanish words for the two animals refereed to as "possum" in English:

-1. US (opossum) zarigüeya f; IDIOM Fam to play possum (pretend to be asleep) hacerse el dormido/la dormida; (pretend to know nothing) hacerse el sueco/la sueca
-2. Austr (marsupial) falangero m

share|improve this answer
add comment

I found this on WordReference dot com:

El principal nombre común que reciben los didelfimorfos es el de zarigüeyas; además, son conocidos en El Salvador como tacuazines, en Guatemala como tacuacines, en México como tlacuaches o tacuaches, en Ecuador como guanchacas, en Honduras como guasalos, en el Perú como mucas o canchalucos, en Bolivia como carachupas, en Colombia como faras, chuchas, runchos o raposas, en Venezuela como rabipelados o faros, en Costa Rica, Panamá y algunas partes de México (como Yucatán) como “zorros”, y en Uruguay y Argentina como “comadrejas” overas, aunque estos dos últimos términos son equívocos, ya que comparten el nombre con mamíferos placentarios completamente diferentes.

share|improve this answer
1  
It's better if you put also the link to the post or entry where to took that from. –  JoulSauron May 15 '12 at 16:00
add comment

Se conoce como "tlacuache" en algunas partes de México.

share|improve this answer
add comment

In Texas and Mexico - tlacuaches or tacuaches (more common for tejanos).

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.