Phrases and Slang

As I have mentioned before, the Spanish here is very distinct from many other Spanish speaking countries. I am slowly learning a lot of the slang they use down here, although there is still a mountain left to learn. Like the last post, this one is more directed towards people with some background in Spanish, but I promise it won’t be as confusing.

One of the first differences I noticed was that no one used the world “aqui” down here (I means “here” in English). Instead they use acá, pronounced exactly as it looks. They mean exactly the same thing at appear to be interchangeable. Everyone will understand you if you say aqui, but you won’t look like a cool native. I have heard this is very common all the way up to Ecuador.

Every country seems to have its own way to say “cool”or “great.” In Argentina the two biggest words I hear here for it are “genial” and “bárbaro.” Genial seems normal enough but bárbaro literally translates as “barbarian” or “barbaric.” It is a really fun word to use, plus you look like you really know your stuff when you use it correctly.

Probably the most common phrase I have heard here is “De Donde sos?” This means “where are you from” but for someone not used to the “Vos” dialect of Spanish I talked about in the last post, it make take a few times before you figure out what they mean. Most of the time they assume the United States already if you have been talking for a little bit, and want to know what state you are from. Unless you are from Miami, New York, Texas, or California, prepare yourself for a disappointed or confused look on the other Argentinian’s face when he/she has no idea where that place is. Unless there has been a movie about the place, they probably have not heard of it, which is completely reasonable because I have no idea about the provinces/states of other countries. I do take the time to make sure they understand Kansas City is in Missouri, no matter how long it takes. I will not be called a Kansan!

“Tomar” (meaning to drink/take) is one of the most useful words down here. I am yet to hear a native speaker use the word “beber,” which we were all taught in school for the word “to drink,” and this also works for taking medicine, a cab, the bus, the subway, a test, etc. When in Argentina, avoid at all cost the word “coger” (meaning to take, as in to take a taxi) because it has a completely different meaning here. You will get lots of giggles from people best case scenarios, or mean looks depending on the crowd that hears you. Thankfully, the locals are a vulgar folk, so it is not the absolute worst faux pas you can make. But people will think you really, really like that bus if you keep saying you are going to “coger” it.

Just today in my Latin American Cinema class I learned what may be now my favorite Spanish insult, “imberbe.” It literally translates as beardless, basically calling someone naive, immature, and young. It was famously used during some serious political protests in the 1970′s, so I guess nothing hurts an Argentinians pride like the lack of facial hair apparently.

There are a billion other ones, and I may add more as I can think of them, but I at least wanted to get a list started and also make up for missed blog posts. This Friday I am going to the Eva Peron museum and we are finally going to Uruguay on Sunday! The weather was absolutely awful the last 6 days, with highs between 45-55 and tons of rain every day. I have been told that this was the last gasp of winter, so I am hoping Spring will stick around for good.

Thanks for reading!

Also, Go Chiefs!


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