The small nuances and colloquialisms in a language still confound Dora Lapop. Selling slices of fruit, soft drinks, tamales and other snacks on the corner of 22nd and Mission streets, Lapop said she usually sells more tamales than anything. But sometimes, she’ll offer customers a “gaseosa,” 

That’s what they call soda in Guatemala. But to use soda in Spanglish would just be confusing to a Guatemalan because soda is the name of a popular brand of cookies.  

“If you ask for a soda in Guatemala, they just give you a cookie,” she said. 

Lapop left her home, her husband and her three sons 10 months ago and is winding her way through the process of applying for asylum. But the immigration courts, she said, are telling her to leave. It’s a scary thought, she said, to have to go back home and deal with the violence and the gangs that make life unpleasant. 

“What can you do? God will help me find a way through this,” she said.