If you’ve ever tried to bridge the communication gap with your favorite drywalling crew, you may have found that furrowed eyebrows and a one syllable “Huh?” transcends the language barrier very quickly.
There are many ways to say “drywall” in Spanish and that creates confusion.
On-line searches and textbooks will tell you the most common way to say it is “tabla roca.”
Tabla (TAH-blah) means Board.
Roca (ROH-kah) means Rock.
“Board rock” is close to “Sheet rock.” That seems to make sense. Should you say that?
No. Don’t say that.
None of the guys hanging this stuff call it that, so neither should you. It’s a bit formal. It’s like someone asking for the “annotated list of future trade partner accomplishments” instead of asking for the… Punchlist.
It’s not that it’s wrong per se, you just sound like a clown when you say it.
So no-go on tabla roca. Where else can we confirm? How about USG – the largest distributor of wallboard in the United States? Seems reasonable….
The cover of their Gypsum Construction Handbook en Español reads Manual de Construcción con Yeso.
So… Yeso (YAY-soh) means Gypsum, right?
Drywall is made of gypsum, so let’s say that?
You can. I wouldn’t.
Again, very formal. The guys who hang drywall all day don’t typically deep-dive into the organic chemical compounds like CaSO4·2 H2O that technically make it gypsum and not, for example, Chinese vermiculite combined with air-entrained wax emulsion. Or whatever stinky garbage is hanging in all the homes in Florida.
No-go on Yeso. So what should I say?
Literally, this means sheet, like a sheet of paper or more relevant – a sheet of drywall. The first H in hojas is silent, so don’t say it or else you’ll sound like a total gringo.
For hojas, think Greek. Every time you think drywall, exclaim (OH-hahs) very loudly like the Greeks do with Opa!
And yet another way:
OK, yeah…. Just use that one.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. He likes great drywallers, Chinese vermiculite, and Greek cuisine.
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