Hi Everyone! Hola Todos!
This blog post is going to be about Chilean slang (Chilenismos), a few things that Chileans say that differ from the Spanish that’s spoken in Spain and just also explaining some things about Spanish in general.
I do give out a warning, this post will probably use almost every swear word you could think of, and I’ve tried to think of a way to write it to avoid that, but I haven’t come up with a way yet. So, if you get the shit’s easily, you might wanna skip this.
Also, I am not Chilean, and so the explanation of these words are just my understanding of them so far, and the words might have different meanings in different parts of Chile and to different Chileans.
- Ending words with ‘ai’
Chileans don’t like to pronounce their s’s, changing it into an ‘i’ letter and also changing the sound into the ‘ai’ sound. This can happen with any word ending in ‘as’ or any word that’s conjugated to be directly spoken towards a person – like a word that’s specifically targeting you.
For example, instead of literally saying ‘how are you’, in Spanish it would be ‘how are (conjugated to be directed at you)’, which is ‘cómo estás’, with estás meaning ‘are you’. Conjugation is hard to explain sorry haha. But basically, within that, they would then change the ‘as’ to ‘ai’, and not pronounce the other ‘s’, so it’s now ‘etai’, instead of ‘estás’.
- When pronouncing s’s
While Chileans don’t particularly like pronouncing s’s, they do still pronounce them in a lot of words, and there are two things about their pronunciation that differs from Spain Spanish, in particular the Spanish spoken in Madrid.
Chileans, like most Latinx Americans, pronounce the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds pretty much the same as in English, however, this is often different in the Spanish spoken in Spain, where the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds are pronounced as the ‘th’ sound in English. If you come to Chile making the ‘th’ instead of ‘s’ sound, you will be wildly bullied for it.
An interesting fact is that the ‘th’ sound isn’t used in any other words in Spanish, they don’t have any words with the ‘th’ written in them, and so when native Spanish speakers are learning English, they often use a ‘d’ or ‘t’ sound to pronounce words like ‘the’ ‘thing’ etc. However, they can actually pronounce the ‘th’ sound, as they make that sound either as native Spain Spanish speakers or when making fun of Spain Spanish speakers, so a tip I’ve passed on to my host family and some of my friends for English is just to change all of the ‘th’ to an ‘s’ or ‘z’ sound that you have in Spain Spanish, and it helps with the fluency of English speaking.
The second thing about the ‘s’ sound is that in Spanish when they are pronouncing a word that is actually an English word beginning with ‘s’, like sad, salad, snake, they always pronounce it with an ‘e’ sound in front of the word, like esad, esalad, esnake. It’s the ‘e’ sound that’s found in egg, temple, Edward, not the ‘e’ sound of eat, street, greet. It’s quite interesting.
- Not pronouncing d’s
As well as s’s, Chileans dislike their d’s. They don’t usually change it to anything like with the s, they just kind of completely skip it, maybe with a pause.
For example, ‘pesado’ is the word for heavy, but colloquially it’s also used for someone who’s not so fun, but they wouldn’t pronounce it pesado, but more pesao or pesa’o, just completely skipping the d. This happens with a lot of other words too.
- Explaining vowel sounds
In Spanish, the vowel sounds only really have one pronunciation, unlike in English.
In English, we have a e i o u pronounced two ways; ah eh i oh oo and aye ee eye o you. In Spanish, they only ever use the first pronunciation; ah eh i oh oo.
As well, when reading Spanish, always pronounce every letter, and in particular, the e’s that you’ll find at the end of words. For example, the word ‘probable’ is written the same and means the same in English and Spanish, but it has a different pronunciation in Spanish than in English. In Spanish, you not only change the vowel sounds to the one’s I mentioned above, but you also pronounce the e at the end of the word: proh-bah-bl-eh, instead of prob-ah-bl in English.
This pronunciation of the vowels is all fine except in one word: meme. In Spanish, I’m sorry to say, they pronounce it meh-meh instead of meem like in English and it’s a sorry story if I’m honest.
- Explaining accents and ñ
The accents on letter ins Spanish (like á é í ó ú) just show you where you need to stress the syllable, they don’t usually change the pronunciation of the letter like in other languages.
For example, inglés, the Spanish word for ‘English’, is pronounced ‘in-gl-E-s’, with the ‘e’ vowel sound stressed over the ‘i’ vowel sound.
The accent doesn’t change the stress of vowels in all cases, it can also be the difference between words with otherwise the same spelling. For example, ‘qué’ and ‘que’. ‘Qué’ means what, while ‘que’ means that/than. The same goes for ‘estás’ and ‘estas’, ‘estás’ means you are, while ‘estas’ means ‘those’ in relation to feminine objects (like a chair is feminine in Spanish, I don’t mean pads and tampons).
Another letter we don’t find in English is the ‘ñ’. The ‘ñ’ has the sound of ‘nya’ or ‘nye’, and that’s literally all it changes. Spanish is actually a much more phonetic language compared to English once you understand what the phonetics are. For example, the word ‘lasagne’ in Spanish is spelled ‘lasaña’ and it has the same pronunciation as in English, however, it’s spelled so much more phonetically. If we were to read out the English words phonetically, it would read ‘la-sag-ne’, not ‘la-sa-nya’.
- Double L
The double L in Spanish actually isn’t pronounced like an L at all, it’s more pronounced like a mix between the ‘y’ in yellow and ‘j’ sounds in English, and stressed more on the ‘y’ or the ‘j’ depending on the word.
Something that might surprise you is that you’re actually pronouncing Llama wrong, it’s not pronounced ‘Larma’ like we would say in Aus, but actually more of a ‘jyama’, like the second part of the word ‘pyjama’.
Depending on your accent in Spanish though, the double l sound can also be pronounced only like a ‘y’ in yellow sound or even an ‘sh’ sound, like in the Argentinian accent. However, in Chile, it’s mostly just the mix between the ‘y’ and ‘j’ sounds.
- ‘J’ and ‘y’ sounds in Spanish
The ‘j’ sound in Spanish is a more breathy throaty sound that’s a mix in between the English ‘g’ sound of ‘go’ and ‘got’, and the ‘h’ sound.
Just the letter ‘y’ on its own in Spanish means ‘and’, and it’s pronounced like in the words ‘skinny’, ‘gym’ and ‘lyric’, as a short ‘i’ sound. Other than that, the y isn’t a very commonly used letter in Spanish. Because of this, it isn’t used a the ‘y’ sound in yellow, and when native Spanish speakers are learning English, they often use the English way of pronouncing ‘j’, or the g sound in ‘gym’, and that turns the words yellow into ‘jello’ and your into ‘jour’.
- Not pronouncing ‘h’
The ‘h’ is not pronounced in Spanish almost at all, and it’s also really used. This does mean as well that when Spanish speakers are learning English, they either have to learn the ‘h’ sound, they don’t pronounce the ‘h’ sound (making ‘hello’ into ‘ello’) or they use the ‘j’ in Spanish sound.
- The rolling R
In Spanish, they roll all of their r’s. I cannot roll my r’s, so I have no idea how to explain how to do it. However, there is a difference in between how they roll different r sounds.
For a singular r sound, like in the words ‘pera’ (pear) and ‘ruta’ (route), it’s actually a very similar sound to when an Australian pronounces the ‘tt’ or ‘d’ sound in ‘better’ (or in the aussie accent: beh-d-ah). So to mimic this rolled singular r sound, you can just make the same sound as you would when saying ‘better’ in an aussie accent in English.
There is also a double r sound, like in the words ‘perro’ (dog) and ‘corre’ (to run). This r sound is longer than the single r sound, and its a rolling r sound made by the tongue.
- Using ‘e’, ‘x’ and @
Unlike in English, Spanish has masculine and feminine words for almost everything. Usually, when a word ends in ‘o’, it is masculine, and when it ends in ‘a’, it is feminine. Also, when using plurals where there is a mix between males and females, the default is to use the masculine version of the words.
However, in a way to include both the masculine and feminine in one go, e, x and @ are also informally used. E and x are generally gender-neutral, while using @ combines both male and female, as the @ symbol looks like an a and an o at the same time.
For example, if you were writing about a bunch of kids, you could use ‘niños’ for a group of boys or a mixed group, ‘niñas’ for a group of girls, or ‘niñes’, ‘niñxs’ or ‘niñ@s’ for a mixed group. Alternatively, you could just say ‘niños y niñas’ (boys and girls) if you wanted, but it’s just quicker to avoid having to say every male and female word all the time.
Po is like a nickname, but for everything and everyone. It’s added onto the end of sentences and words usually and can also be used to lessen the blow of a sentence that could otherwise be taken as a bit harsh or rude. Very common uses for Po is being combined with yes and no to make ‘Sipo’ and ‘Nopo’, also commonly written as ‘Sip’ and ‘Nop’.
-Puedo salir a la casa de mi amiga? (Can I go out to my friends house?)
Nopo, no puede hoy día, po. (No, po, you can’t today, po)
Bacán means something that is really good and cool, kind of how you would use bueno in Spanish.
-Me pinté el pelo de azul! (I dyed my hair blue!)
Que bacán! (That’s bacán!)
Cachai is actually cachas, which translates into Spanish as ‘you catch’. However, cachai is a question, asking someone if they understood what you just said basically. Also, if you’re replying to say you understand it, you could say ‘cacho’ (I catch/understand) or ‘no cacho’ (I don’t catch/understand).
-El mundo es un globo, ¿cachai? (the world is a globe, cachai?)
Sip, cacho. (yes po, cacho)
- ¿Cómo estai/etai?
As I mentioned before, Chileans don’t like s’s. With this, they are known to ask ‘How are you?’ very distinctly to other Spanish speakers, either pronouncing it with ‘estai’, with the first s, or no s’s at all, as ‘etai’.
- Al Tiro
Al Tiro is *supposed* to mean ‘ahora’ (translated, right now or now), however, it’s more used when you don’t really have any intention of actually doing something in that moment. For example, you’re being called by your parents to come set the table, and you will eventually go and help, but you don’t have any plans to hurry up anytime soon.
-Niños, asentarse! Almorzar! (Kids, come sit down! Lunch!)
Si mamá, al tiro! (Yes mum, al tiro!)
*actually get up to move 5-10 minutes later*
Chilean slang for a thousand, often only used to reference a thousand Chilean pesos. The Spanish world for a thousand is mil.
The Chilean words for boyfriend and girlfriend. It can also be used as pololear, which is the verb form and used to describe going out and dating. The Spanish words for boyfriend and girlfriend are novio/novia.
- Al Seco
To drink something in one go, to scull something basically. For example, you would take a shot Al Seco.
This word isn’t distinctly Chilean, its more Latin American slang, but its used a lot. Perrear is a verb, its a type of dancing and partying that they do here, where the dancing is quite provocative, with a lot of twerking and grinding and just in general dancing in close proximity. Perrear also loosely applies to what you do at parties, so drinking, smoking, dancing and the general vibe of a party, all while listening to Reggaetón music most likely.
- Cabro / Cabro chico
You might be familiar with the word ‘cabrón’ in Spanish, and while this sounds very similar, its not. Cabro is used as a term for teenagers and youth, and cabro chico (literally translated cabro small) is used for kids.
- La caña
La caña is the pain and grossness you feel after getting drunk, also known as a hangover in English.
-¿Por qué no puedo encender la luz? (Why can’t I turn on the light?)
Porque ella está sufriendo la caña (Because she is suffering a hangover)
A carrete is a Chilean party, una fiesta. Carretes are often wild parties with drinking, smoking, dancing, singing, kissing, everything, and it’s very often a place where you will go to meet new people and have fun during the summer. At a carrete, you will also often perrear. Carretear is the verb, meaning the act of partying. A person who is known to carretear is known as a carreter@.
In a sentence:
-¿Vas a salir a la carrete este viernes? (Are you going to the carrete this Friday?)
Sip, obvio, extraño carretear (yes po, obviously, I miss carretear/partying)
-Ay verdad, eres un carreter@ (Oh true, you’re a carreter@)
A Flaite is most like the Australian Eshay, there are minor differences but that’s the best way to describe it.
- Me tinca
The literal translation is ‘stains me’, but it means if you like something or you think and agree it is a good thing or idea.
This one is hard to translate. The translation of the explanation in Spanish is ‘when nobody notices’, but it means something that’s really good, something perfect and nice, with sort of a ‘she’ll be right’, ‘oh that’s cool’, ‘don’t worry’ type of vibe.
- Vuelta la chaqueta
The literal translation means turn over the jacket, but its a phrase to describe when someone drastically changes their mood or opinion, often when they get angry quickly. When someone has a tantrum.
-¿Por qué se fue? (why did they go?)
Porque se vuelta la chaqueta. (because they vuelta la chaqueta/they threw a tanty)
When something is really boring and lame.
Mis clases eran muy fome hoy día. (My classes were really boring and lame today.)
Una funa is when someone calls someone else out for something, often over social media, and ‘cancels’ them. It’s very similar to the cancel culture of twitter. More often than not as well, una funa is when a girl calls out sexual assault, harassment or rape that she has experienced from a guy, and makes it public knowledge. Reporting a rape or sexual assault to the police in Chile won’t really do anything, and ruining someone’s social reputation can affect the accused a lot more and so it’s often the option taken by most sexual abuse victims.
Tuto is sleep and feeling sleepy. I often get ‘Tiene la cara de tuto’ (you’ve got a sleepy face is a direct translation) from my host mum in the mornings.
This word in Spanish means a Chinese person, however in Chile they use this to describe any Asian person. It’s not because they don’t have the words to describe Asian people more accurately to the country they are from, like Korean (Coreano) or Japanese (Japónes), it’s just mostly used to describe all Asians because of ignorance and racism. There isn’t a lot of Asian influence in Chile, and so there’s a lack of understanding about Asian culture and countries.
This word can also describe anyone with eyes that are more almond-shaped than round but are not of Asian descent. Still racist though.
A lot, heaps. This can apply to anything, people, food, sleep, anything, whenever there is a lot of it.
Lata is similar to fome, but it changes depending on how you use it, unlike fome. If you have lata/you’re feeling lata, you are bored. If you are being lata, you are boring to others. And if are lata, you are lazy.
Just completely uncensored swearing
Weón is used kind of similarly to ‘bitch’ in English; among friends, its just another word to call each other, quite similar to ‘bro’, ‘man’, ‘buddy’ as well, but it can also be used as an insult. The way it differs though is that you can’t be a ‘weón’ like how you can be a bitch or be bitchy. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, use this as a name or just generally when talking to any authority figure or anyone like your grandparents unless you seriously wish to insult them.
An example when used among friends (very roughly translated):
-Oye weon, trae la pelota para jugar (Hey weon, bring the ball to play)
No se donde esta (I don’t know where it is)
-No seas tan weon, si esta a plena vista (you don’t know where it is, weon? it’s right in plain view)
La encontre (I found it)
-Viste que estaba al lado weon? (You didn’t see it right next to you, weon?)
Wea holds the same sentiment as Weon, however its used more for objects and things, rather than people. Wea is what something can be, and its a bit confusing about whether or not it’s good or bad, it all depends on the context. Wea is also a thing, like a different word for ‘thing’ and ‘stuff’. It’s often used in the phrase ‘puta la wea’, which literally translates as fuck the shit.
-Oye weon, recoge la wea (Hey weon, get the wea)
Que wea weon? Que wea quieres que te recoga? (What wea weon? What wea do you want me to get?)
-La wea que esta ahi weon (The wea that is there weon)
Aaaah, sorry weon, ten tu wea. Weon (Aaah, sorry weon, have your wea. Weon.)
(Also, I am very aware that half of what that example was wea and weon, but that’s just how they speak here)
- Pucha, Chuta and Chucha
These are used as a statement of discontentment, similar to the use of damnit, and shit and fuck when you’ve just stubbed your toe or something. However, as far as I can tell, something can also be ‘pucha/chuta/chucha’.
*you just lost in a video game*
CHUTA, WEON! (Weon likes to get thrown in here and there as well)
*you just stubbed your two, really hard*
Pucha, cunchetumadre! (We’ll learn that one soon)
- Cunchetumadre / Cunchesumadre (CTM / CSM)
First, the only difference between these is the ‘tu’ and ‘su’, which are just different ways of saying ‘your’ in Spanish. ‘Tu’ means you/your, more of like a broad sense, and ‘su’ means specifically you/your. It’s hard to explain, and I’m not a Spanish teacher. ‘Madre’ in Spanish means mother. CTM loosely translates to ‘motherfucker’ when used in an exclamation way, like ‘motherfucker that hurt’ or ‘motherfucker, that scared the shit out of me’. It’s also used similar to ‘Jesus Christ’ when its used in an exclamatory way, like, ‘Jesus Christ, why’d you have to say that?’ etc. It’s also just kind of used in a passive frustration way.
*a bird flies in front of your face and scares you* (real scenario)
Cunchetumadre! (kind of whispered under their breath)
*a friend trying to explain the rules of a card game*
¿Cómo todavía no lo entiendes, weon? Cunchetumadre. (How do you still not understand, weon? Cunchetumadre.)
Ass, bum, butt.
Another word for penis.
AAAAAAAAAANNNNDDDD not done at all. This is not a completely comprehensive list of slang, this is just the beginning of it.
This has already been heaps, so thank you if you’ve read through it all! Have a great day! Chau!