A random list of random bits of Spanish knowledge I’ve acquired in my time here. Some are strickly Guatemalan, or Chapinismos. Inappropriate Chapinismos aren’t included. ;)
- “No hay nada” - Double negatives for the win. Literally translated means “There isn’t nothing.” Really means “There isn’t any.”
- “Fijate que” - A starter phrase. Basically like “It seems that…” Literally fijar translates as “fix,” although I’ve NEVER heard it used any way but fijate que. Example: “Fijate que I have to work until late so we can’t hang out tonight.”
- “Mas mejor” - We like double negatives and double positives here. In Spanish class they tell you NOT to say this…but people do it all the time here. Kind of like saying “more better.”
- “¿Saber?” - Anyone who has taken a Spanish class knows that this means “to know” (a concept or idea.) When it is left unconjugated, however, it means “who knows?” Like…”Where are your kids right now?” “Oh, ¿saber?” Yeah. Bad answer, right?
- “Pues” - Has like ten different meanings in my dictionary. It’s baaaaasically a filler word, kind of like my own usage of “like” (yeah, I’m educated and intelligent and I still never got over that phase; haters get a life). Best translation might be “then.” In addition to being a filler word, it also sometimes serves as an added ooomph. As in “Adios, pues” or “Vaya, pues” (a forceful way of saying leave or get out).
- “Costar” - Basically, no one here says things are dificil - difficult. Rather, everything “costs.” To climb the mountain cuesta. To live a life of poverty cuesta. And of course, Claire cuesta en la calle (disregard that one…)
- “Bebita” - Term of endearment for lovers. Note that I myself have not used this. Literally, “little baby.” When it’s in another language it basically makes you realize how ridiculous it sounds to call your partner “baby” or “babe.” Never again…
- “Dejar plantado” - Phrase that means “to leave standing” a.k.a. to stand someone up. Yeeeeeah I am terrible for knowing that one, right?
- “Pisto” - Chapinismo for money…better translated as the more casual “cash.”
- “Vos” - I am still not confident enough in my mastery of the language to use vos…a.k.a. I’m not cool enough, but vos is another way of saying “you” (like tu), but very informal. My closest equivalent would probably be my own usage of “dude.” Like I said, I’m not cool enough to use this one yet. Maybe ever, let’s be honest.
- “Seño” - In class they teach you señorita or señora for “Miss” and “Mrs.” But really, we all know how awkward it is when a woman is say, my own age of 21. How the eff do you decide which to call them? Thus, in a combined act of confusion and feminism Americans created the genius of “Ms.” Seño is the Spanish equivalent…a middle ground, if you will. Anymore these days señorita and señora actually mean “virgin” and “not virgin” (yeah, awkwardly learned that one in my Chipotle days when it was a more immigrant-friendly company.)
- “Pena” - Literally means “sorrow.” Here, though, it’s a very Guatemalan concept that is especially associated with hospitality. As in “No tenga pena, have a second helping.” Can be translated as “don’t worry” or “be my guest.” Hospitality is very important here, and hosts never want to “give pena,” thus, the fat girl always receives insanely large portions while dining in a strangers house. No one believes me when I say I don’t eat that much…and they’d rather avoid risking pena.
- “Por fa” - Simply the shortened version of por favor, or please. I don’t know why, but I like saying this one. Especially used when asking for a bus stop.
- “Buen provecho” - I almost forgot this one! Guatemalan cultural lesson number one. You must, must, MUST say “Thank you very much” after finishing any meal or snack, to which all in company reply “Buen provecho”, or bon appetit. If you do not do this, you will be considered extremely rude. The same goes for greeting a company upon entering a room. People are just really, really friendly. You must act accordingly.
- “Mala/buena onda” - Literally means “bad/good waves.” Kind of like saying something is or isn’t cool. If the kids think I’m being unfair or lame they say “Alisia, mala onda.”
- “Casaca” - Basically tall tales or bullshit. I’ve used this with guys. As in “You want me to marry you?” “Casacas.”
- “Shuco/a” - Dirty. I didn’t shower for ONE morning when I was on vaca with Elmer’s family and got called shuca.
- “Estar de goma” - Literally goma means “rubber.” This phrase, however, means “to be hungover,” a.k.a. “to be rubber.” Gosh, isn’t that so true, though? I mean…no…mom, I’ve never had a hangover…
- “Ya” - This word was such a pain in the ass initially, mostly because two letter words in other languages suck, especially when they are used ALL the time. It basically means “already” or “now,” and is used all of the time. Really. ALL of the time.
- “Ratito” - I know it’s deceptive, but this word really has nothing to do with rodents of any size. Rato means “moment” in Spanish. Here, however, everyone loves to say ratito - literally “little moment.” Also common is ahorita - “right now.”
September 26, 2011
Spanish they didn't teach you in class.
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