If you’ve been following along for a while, you probably already know what I’m about to tell you: Chilean Spanish is different. There are a lot of chileanismos, and some verb forms are even conjugated differently (links to my old blog, apparently it’s one of the five posts that didn’t transfer). However, what I’ve been noticing recently, mostly at work, are those typical vocabulary words that you learn in high school Spanish class that are not very useful here in Chile.
For example, the other day a student came into the office. She asked me if I had a grabadora (tape recorder). The conversation went something like this:
Me: Una grabadora? A tape recorder?
Her: Sí, la mayoría de las oficinas la tienen. Yeah, most offices have one.
Me: En serio? Really?
Her: Um, sí, creo? Um, yeah, I think so?
Then she made the international sign for stapler.
Me: Ahhhh! Una corchetera. Ahhhh! A stapler.
Before you all get your panties in a wad and tell me “It’s not grabadora, it’s grapadora.” I know. We figured that out later and it’s probably why I was so confused.
Lesson number one: not grapadora, but corchetera when you need a stapler. Staples are corchetes.
Here are some more common vocabulary mix-ups in Chile. Can you think of any more?
Auto is car.
In Spanish class, you probably learned coche or carro for car. Not so in Chile. Car is auto, short for automovíl. A coche is a baby carriage and a carro (normally shortened to carrito) is a shopping cart.
Jugo is juice.
When I was studying abroad, a French girl came to live in La Casita, where I later lived before renting this apartment. She would always ask my host mom for zumo…aka jugo. In Spain, yes, it’s zumo. But here in Chile, if you want some juice, ask for jugo.
Bebida is soda.
I distinctly remember loving the word gaseosa in high school Spanish. I’m not sure why. Too bad, because here in Chile soda (or pop) is bebida.
Naranja is orange and orange.
I remember struggling with the word for “orange” (the color) in Spanish classes. Anaranjado…try saying that three times fast! But luckily for me, here in Chile (and other places, I think) the color is the same as the fruit: naranja.
Fruits and veggies.
Fruits and veggies can be tricky. Avocado is palta, peach is durazno, corn is choclo and strawberry is frutilla. Here’s a visual aid.