Chilean Word Play

Eileen at Bearshapedsphere once posted on how Chileans soften their swear words, replacing them with words that sound similar. Margaret recently updated her Chilenismos Glossary over at Cachando Chile. These two things inspired this post.

Chileans are good at replacing words that sound the same. For example, there is the infamous: “Y Boston?” or “Y Bosnia?” No, nobodys concerned about geography here, they just want to know about you. See, the informal version of here in Chile is vos (or really pronounced voh). So if you say “Y voh?” it means, “And you?” So to be clever, you can elongate this into “Y Boston?” or “Y Bosnia?” because in Spanish, the v and b are practically the same sound.

Another one my boss likes to use is “Como le baila?” which would roughly translate into “How do you dance?” But really, she just wants to know how you’re doing. The correct phrase would be “Como le va?” which is the polite way of asking “How’s it going?”

Here are some others that I’ve heard around town.

Serapio: this comes from the phrase “Será, po,” which is Chilean (or Spanish, without the po) for a resigned “I guess that’s the way it will be.” Apio is celery.

“Veronica, mi amor, perdóname, pero no voy a poder ir a almorzar donde tus padres hoy día.” (Veronica, my love, I’m sorry but I can’t eat lunch at your parents’ house today.)
“Bueno, serapio.” (Okay, I guess that’s how it is.)

De todas mangueras: This comes from the common phrase “De todas maneras”, which means “By all means”. A manguera is a garden hose.

“Juan, vai a venir a mi cumple?” (Juan, are you coming to my birthday party?)
“De todas mangueras, compa’re” (Of course I am, man)

Por si las moscas: Moscas are flies, but this phrase means “Just in case” or “By the way” from the Spanish phrase “Por si acaso” (Which Margaret points out is often shortened to porsiaca and I’ve even heard porsi.)

Susana, puedes revisar el base de datos de nuevo, por si las moscas” (Susana, can you check the data base again, just in case)
“Claro, jefa.” (Sure thing, boss)

Nos Belmont: Belmont* is one of the most popular brands of cigarettes here in Chile. This phrase is derived from “Nos vemos”, which is “See you later.”

“Claudia, me voy.” (Claudia, I’m leaving)
“Ya, nos belmont!” (Okay, see you later!)

Lenteja: This comes from the word lenta or lento, meaning slow. Lentejas are lentils.

“Vicente, ¿querí ir a almorzar en la Picola Italia?” (Vincent, wanna have lunch at the Picola Italia?”
“No, weon, son medio lentejas allá…vamos mejor al Dominó.” (No, dude, they’re kind of slow over there…let’s go to Dominó instead.)

*Unfortunately, to many Chileans “Vermont” sounds like “Belmont” so when they ask where I’m from, they sometimes ask “You mean, like the cigarettes?” No, ew, gross.


7 thoughts on “Chilean Word Play

  1. >jajaja, notable! These are great. I don't think I'd put these all together, but now that you mention it, I'm sure I've heard them all. I love your synthesis! I might have to write about "caminar mas que el kung fu" in the near future…

  2. >I'm continually amazed at how different Chilean Spanish is from the Argentine version, despite the fact that the two countries are neighbors. I've never heard any of these here in Argentina – very interesting!

  3. >Funny – There is actually a Belmont, Vermont, & it happens to be where I've spent most of my time in Vermont! What a coincidence, but too bad it's with cigarettes…

  4. >Heather: Yeah, it happens frequently. I just wish Belmont wasn't a brand of cigs…ew!Eileen: Thanks!Katie: Yes, when I've traveled to Argentina I'm always surprised by how many words are different! The Andes Mountains must do a good job of separating the two countries :)EW: I had to look that up on the map! I'd never heard of Belmont, VT before but coincidentally it's a little hamlet near where my parents live (they just moved there, so I don't know the area too well). Maybe I should start confusing the Chileans and saying I'm from there? Haha. Katie: Thanks! I love "por si los flies"…that's hilarious!

  5. >Great post Abby! And thanks for the plug… and for inspiring Eileen's Caminar más que Kung Fu & for generating Katie's "por si las flies"! LOVE that one!And I get irked by the insistence on how to pronounce Vermont, although I usually hear it more like BEAR-moan (like bears being sick in the woods or something… which might be a LITTLE better than cigarettes!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s