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 tú 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.