I really enjoyed writing the first part of the Chilenismos (link to which you can find here), so I thought I would write about some more of them and explain a little bit more about Spanish and the Chilean accent.
I’d like to make a quick disclaimer that there might be some swearing in this post, and also, because I am not Chilean, the explanations of a lot of these words are just my interpretations as a foreigner living in Chile, and the words might have slightly different meanings to every Chilean.
Explaining Spanish stuff
‘Que’ in Spanish means ‘that’, and ‘qué’ means ‘what’, if the e has the accent. Que (pronounced ke) is a very common word, and so just like a lot of words we have in English that we shorten when we’re texting or typing online (are => r, you => u, I don’t know => idk, etc), in Spanish they do the same. I didn’t realise this when I was first learning Spanish and trying to understand my friends when we talked online, so I thought I would include some keyboard shortcuts that they use a lot here.
Que: q, k, ke (basically just the ‘k’ sound)
Quiero (I want): kero
Por qué/porque (Why/because): xq, xk, xke (the x means a multiply symbol, and another word for multiply is ‘por’ in Spanish, so that’s how that came to be)
- Jajajajaja and jkdsjksdkjs
As I mentioned in my previous post, the ‘h’ in Spanish isn’t pronounced, so if you write hahahahaha like you would in English to symbolise laughing, it doesn’t register the same (it’s often a joke that they read that as aaaaaaa; as a scream). Instead, laughing can be written as jajajajaja, with a j, because the j is what most sounds like the h sound and laughing.
Although, ‘jajaja’ can be considered more formal, so it’s very normal to type laughing as a mix of the letters j, k, s and d, and depending on how funny it is, type them in uppercase as well.
Another cool fact is that in Brazil, they type laughing as dkdkdkdkd, and that has also spread to some of the culture within Chile, but I wouldn’t recommend typing laughing like that all the time sjsksjsk.
- ‘ch’ and ‘sh’ sounds
It’s often taught when learning Latin American Spanish that the ‘ll’ and ‘s’ sounds can be pronounced as a ‘ch’ or ‘sh’ sound, however that’s only really specific to a few accents in Latin American Spanish, such as the Argentinian accent.
This sound is not used almost at all in the Chilean accent, and so I would recommend not making that sound when speaking Spanish here, or you’ll get made fun of for sounding Argentinian. Chile has an Aussie/Kiwi relationship with both Peru and Argentina, where there’s that sort of joking and teasing attitude, and they don’t like to be mislabeled as Argentinians or Peruvians.
Rico means delicious in Spanish, but it’s used to describe way more than that. Rico can describe a day that’s really nice, if someone is really attractive, basically, if just something is really nice, you can use rico to describe it. I would include rico as just a general Spanish thing than more of a Chilean slang word.
Just like we have hi and hey to mean hello in English, Spanish has it’s own equivalent. Hello is Hola (pronounced o-la, without H), and a more informal way to say hello, more of a hi or hey, is holi (pronounced ol-ee).
Chilean non-offensive slang
Pata directly translated means ‘paw’, as in the paw of an animal. However, pata is used as another word for a foot, and patas for feet.
There’s also a type of meme where whenever you see feet, you say ‘patas’, or even something like ‘mmmm rico patas’ (mmmm delicious feet).
Chau is a way to say goodbye to someone in a more informal way. It’s derived from the Italian ‘Ciao’, but Chilenified. The Spanish word for ‘goodbye’ is ‘adíos’, but that’s more formal, as if you were saying goodbye to someone you won’t see again for a long time.
Bye => Chau, Goodbye => Adíos, See ya => Nos Vemos
Cachipún is the Chilean word for the game Scissors Paper Rock / Rock Paper Scissors / Paper Scissors Rock (whatever you want to call it in English. It’s played the same, and when shaking your fist before playing, you break the word up into ca-chi-pún.
Chileans yet again don’t link to pronounce things, and so the Spanish word for ‘for’ is ‘para’, and it gets shortened to ‘pa’.
Chalas are thongs, flip flops, sandals, jandals (if ya kiwi).
Un copete is a word for any alcoholic drink. If there’s a cup with alcohol in it, its un copete.
Pronounced wa-wa, this is the Chilean word for a baby or toddler.
Pronounced more like wah-ta than gwah-ta, this word means belly, stomach or tummy, that general abdomen area.
Palta means avocado in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruaguay. The official Spanish word for avocado is aguacate, but I wouldn’t recommend calling it that in Chile, you’ll probably get made fun of just a bit.
There are also heaps of other words for foods that are different than the actual Spanish word:
Durazno Peaches and Nectarines Actual Spanish: Durzanero
Piña Pineapple Actual Spanish: Ananás
Damasco Apricot Actual Spanish: Albaricoque
Choclo Corn Actual Spanish: Maíz
El pisco es Chileno, no Peruana. Just to start off, Pisco is a type of spirit alcohol that is made from grapes (it’s not like wine though), and is thought to originate in Chile/Peru (there’s much debate about that). La Piscola is when you mix Coca Cola with Pisco – Pis (pisco) – cola (coca cola).
Plata in Spanish means silver as in the metal, but in Chilean slang, it means money, particularly cash.
This is a name for someone who’s very nosy and always in someone else’s business, but also just an expression of ‘you’re being nosy!’
P1 – *just on their phone doing nothing much*
P2 – *looks over their shoulder to see what they’re doing*
P1 – Oye, sapo! Para! (Hey, sapo! Stop!)
Taco means sooooo many things in Chilean Spanish. Yes, it does mean the Mexican food, los tacos, but it also most commonly is used as the word for traffic or a traffic jam.
– Oye, ¿Por qué llegaste tarde? (Hey, why are you late?)
Porque había mucho taco weón, perdón. (Because there was a lot of taco weón, sorry)
Pronounced tran-ki. This is the shortened version of the word ‘tranquill@’, which directly translated means ‘tranquil’ or ‘tranquilise’. However, it’s used more as a word to describe something that’s really chill, calm, she’ll be right type of attitude.
-Ya, entonces nos vemos a las 7. (Okay, let meet at 7 then)
Sipo, tranquil. (yes po, tranqui)
This word describes someone who dresses very elegantly and fancily, often of high-class status and is a bit posh and snobby. A nose-high-in-the-air type of person.
Translated in ‘vergüenza’ in Spanish, or shame in English, it basically means something along the lines of embarrassment, shame, regret, and cringe.
- Ser seco
‘Ser seco’ directly translates to ‘to be dry’, but that’s not what it’s used as. To be seco, you are someone who is really good, you’re just awesome, amazing and talented.
*pulls off a really cool skate trick*
Eres seco, weón! (you’re seco, weón)
This isn’t Chilean specific, it’s more Latin American slang, but it refers to a foreigner in a general sense. However, it often means a white person, and in particular a person from the US.
Technically, I am a gringa (with ‘a’ because I’m a girl and that’s the feminine form), because I am white and I have lighter coloured hair, however, I’m less of a gringa because I’m not from the US.
This one is kind of hard to explain. Onda is good, it means something that is good luck, a good attitude, a good mood, a good type of person.
Ella es buena onda. (she’s nice, she brings good vibes)
Que mala onda! (what bad luck, bad vibes, how bad – mala means bad, so put with onda, it the onda isn’t good anymore)
The cleaning woman, cook, nanny, housekeeper, often a woman. It’s not uncommon to have a type of housekeeper or childminder in upper-middle to upper-class Chilean society.
When you get angry, mad, upset and have a bit of a tanty.
Oye, juega sin picarse, ya? (Hey, play without getting upset, yeah?)
- Un Siete
Un siete means ‘a seven’, and it’s a reference to the Chilean grading system. In Chile, they use numbers 1-7 to grade, where a 7 is the best mark you could get. And so, they use ‘un siete’ when describing something that’s perfect, kind of like how we use ’10/10′ in English.
This word has more than one meaning, but I’ve only ever heard it being used to describe something as really easy or easy to do.
Pff, eres basura, este nivel es chancaca (Pff, you’re trash, this level is chancaca)
Being stupid and just nonsense in general. It can also be used as a verb that’s synonymous with the act of annoying. It can also mean when something is rubbish, garbage and trash, just generally bad.
This is the word for eat in Spanish, but it can also be used as a word to describe making out and kissing.
Slightly more offensive slang
To be high or intoxicated by drugs, or to be a stoner and known to take a lot of drugs, or possibly even an addict.
Meaning to fuck, to have sex.
This refers to someone who is a part of the Chilean military but is a derogatory way to refer to them. The less derogatory word is ‘militar’ or in plural ‘los militares’.
Technically, this isn’t a very bad swear word, it’s just a more offensive way to refer to the Caribineros de Chile, or the Chilean Police force.