By Matt Del Busto (U.S.-Indiana)
As I’m past the six week mark of my time here in Chile, I’d like to spit some gringo knowledge and share a few essential chilenísmos so if you ever visit Chile (you should), ever move to Chile (why not?!), see a film produced in Chile (it’d be fun!), etc. you can better understand the Spanish here.
I guess an accidental chilenísmo I used without even meaning to is the term itself: “Chilenísmo.” It’s basically a Spanish word/phrase used here in Chile that is more or less exclusive to the country.
Going from what I hear most-to-least often, let’s begin :D
This is a classic Chilenísmo. “Po” means, well, nothing at all.
Stick with me! Chileans use “po” like English-speakers use “like”. It’s a filler word that doesn’t mean anything. It gets added on frequently to sentences, usually at the end of a word or phrase.
Example: ¿Vas al cine hoy? ¡Si, po! (Are you going to the movies today? Yes, po!)
Another common Chilenísmo, “cachaí” comes from the Spanish verb “cachar,” meaning “to catch.” Sometimes the Chileans use the vosotros form (the Spain-Spanish “we” form, as opposed to the “nosotros” form most every other Spanish speaking place uses).
People will ask “¿Cachaí?” at the end of their sentence, basically meaning, “Got it?” or “Do you understand?”
Example: Necesitas doblar a la izquierda en Calle Álvarez, ¿cachaí? (You need to take a left on Álvarez Street, got it?)
#3. ¿Como estaí?:
Another time Chileans like to break out the vosotros form is when they’re asking how you’re doing. That’s right, “¿Como estaí?” is just another form of “¿Como estás?”
Example: Hola, ¿Como estaí? (Hey, how are you?)
#4. Al tiro:
Aw man, another classic. “Al tiro” is the Chilean way of saying “ahora,” meaning “right now.” Literally, this phrase means “at the shot/at the throw.” This is a pretty ubiquitous one in Chile—I definitely haven’t heard many “ahoras” in my time here.
Example: ¿Comemos al tiro, no? (We’re eating now, right?)
In most Latin American countries, avocado is “aguacate.” In Chile, they say “palta.”
You may think avocados aren’t often talked about, but in Chile, you’d be wrong. I would say I eat avocado almost every day here—with a sandwich, on a salad, spread on bread, etc. Chileans love their paltas!
Example: Necesito dos paltas por mi receta. (I need two avocados for my recipe.)
This is an important one, especially on weekends! “Carretear” is a Chilean verb meaning “to party.” Basically, it encompasses the whole party scene—from getting drinks beforehand to going to the party itself, and most everything between.
(Side note—Chileans like to stay out until 5 a.m. Consider yourself warned :’D)
Example: ¿Vas con nosotros al carrete este fin de semana, weon? (You coming with us to the party this weekend, man?)
Speaking of “weon," this word has two distinct meanings, depending on how you say it. “Weon” literally means something like “asshole,” BUT, it can also mean “buddy/pal/man/etc.”
In most contexts, it’s going to mean the latter, especially among younger people. A good analogy of how “weon” is used would be in the same way that I’ve heard people (mainly girls!) use “bitch” in English—while it’s technically a bad word, it can be used affectionately too.
Examples will help us out here:
Example 1, said angrily: ¡Oye, weon, que estás haciendo!? (Hey, asshole, what’re you doing!?
Example 2, said from one friend to another: ¿Ay, weon, que pasa? (Hey, man, what’s up?)
This is the Chilean way to say boyfriend/girlfriend. Important note: only use novio/novia (what “the rest of the world” uses for boyfriend/girlfriend) if you mean fiancée.
Example: ¿Tienes una polola? (Do you have a girlfriend?)
When you want to call something super cool, “bakán” is the way to go.
“Que bakán!” basically means, “How cool!” or “Super cool!”
Example: ¿Cómo fue el carrete ayer? ¡Bakán! (How was the party yesterday? Awesome!)
If “bakán” means “cool,” “fome” means distinctly “uncool” or “boring.”
Example: No voy a esa clase mañana, es tan fome. (I’m not going to that class tomorrow, it’s too boring.)
I love this one because, I mean, who doesn’t love tacos? Well, most times when Chileans talk about tacos, they’re usually not happy. Here, along with being a tasty food, a “taco” is a traffic jam.
Example: Llegaré tarde a mi clase, hay un taco grande. (I’m going to be late to my class today, there’s a big traffic jam.)
Well friends, it’s been a wild chilenísmo ride! While there are obviously more slangs here than just that (Chile seems to pride itself on the high amount of slang used), those are definitely the biggies. Feel free to share any that you know :D
Thanks for reading, pals, I hope you learned a thing or two along the way, and stay Splashy!
**Matt is also blogging about his time abroad, check out his site HERE**