Salvadoran-isms

Image adapted from an image by: Shared-Interest.com

My friend, Alexandra of Good Day Regular People, recently wrote about “Colombian-isms” – I loved her hilarious post (check it out!) and she encouraged me to write my own post of “Salvadoran-isms” – So here I am. I have to say though, Salvadoran slang could fill a book thicker than War & Peace. It seems like every other word out of your average Salvadoran’s mouth is unique to El Salvador or the Caliche of Central America. That being said, here are a handful of random highlights to amuse you.

Puchica! – This is perhaps the most Salvadoran word of all. Use this exclamation anywhere you would usually use “Wow, Holy cow, Geez!”

Maje – Means “dude” or “dumb” depending on context. “Qué onda, maje?” = What’s up, dude? … “No seas maje” = “Don’t be dumb.”

Cipote/Cipota – This word means “child.” Like a lot of Salvadoran slang, this word comes from the native Nahuatl. There is even a beloved Salvadoran folk character named Cipitío – a boy who wears a really big sombrero and has backwards feet as well as a big round belly. He is the result of a forbidden love affair between other folk characters and for some reason he eats ashes and bananas.

Está bien yuca – This means “it’s a really difficult situation.”

Chucho/Chucho Aguacatero – dog/mutt/stray dog/street dog … Example: “Chhht! Chucho! Vete!” (“Chhht! Dog! Get out!”)

Cabal/Cabalito – Means “Exactly.” This can be used when you agree with something and you’re saying, “Yes, that’s it exactly!” or when trying on a pair of shoes that fit perfectly.

Paloma – Although this word usually means “dove” in Spanish, this is also commonly used slang for “penis” in El Salvador… I never found out how that happened, but it must be a fascinating story. (And for this reason, you won’t meet many Salvadoran women named Paloma.)

Fíjate -or- Fíjese – This word is kind of like, “Look,” or “Look here”, “Listen,” – I read once on a blog by a Peace Corp. volunteer in El Salvador that nothing good ever follows this word. I found that hilarious and very true. Example: “Fíjate, el dinero que me diste por pagar la renta, tuve que usar por comprar algo para el cumple de mi novia.” (Look, the money you gave me to pay the rent, I had to use to buy a birthday gift for my girlfriend.)

Más vale amistad perdida, que una tripa retorcida. – “Better to have a lost friendship than a twisted gut.” This is said when one really needs to pass gas and they let it rip. Lovely, right?

Hay pericos en la milpa. – “There are parakeets in the corn field.” Use this to alert someone to watch what they say because others might be listening.

Machete estate en tu vaina. – “Machete stay in your sheath.” Meaning it’s better not to get involved or it’s better to mind your business so you don’t come into problems.

Vaya pues – “Okay, then. That’s fine. It’s all good.” My suegra is known for saying this on the phone before hanging up. She rarely says a proper goodbye, just “Vaya pues” – CLICK.

… Vaya pues.

_______________

What Salvadoran-isms would you add to the list? If your roots are from elsewhere in Latin America, give me your Mexican-isms, Venezuelan-isms, Cuban-isms, or whatever other “-isms” you have from anywhere in the world.

Posted on August 1, 2012, in Culture, humor, Language, Salvadoreños. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Tracy, I can’t believe you forgot one of the coolest phrases in Salvadorian Spanish – “Que Chivo!” LOL

  2. This list is great – You should have seen the look on my friend’s face when I started to use Salvadorian slang when speaking with him. He asked me, “Where did you learn that?!” I told him, “I have the internet!”

    • Good one, Jaime! You also mentioned “vos” over on Facebook. Both are excellent examples of “Salvadoran-isms” :)

  3. This is sort of a crossover between Colombianisms & Salvadoranisms, but a Colombian friend had an unfortunate habit of referring to Salvadorans [in a very classist way] as “Vaya pues” – or, to put it phonetically, Bah-Pways.

    Also wondering about the exclamations – more phonetic spelling here, my Spanish is oral rather than written – Kee-ho-lay! or Ee-ho-lay! which Sr. Wonderful uses regularly, but I have no idea what the literal translation is.

    • What are the chances that you’d have a Colombian-ism/Salvadoran-ism? LOL.

      The word you’re writing phonetically is “Híjole!” – Another good one! This is kind of like saying “Geez!” or “Shoot!”

  4. No conoces anadie que se llame Paloma? Yo si!
    Y hay apellido Palomo! Y no te olvides de la frase Esta Paloma! Meaning its hard!

  5. Fíjate y fíjese is also used in Cuba, but the way it was used (by my cuentos professor) was similar, but more like stick to this, pay close attention to this, remember this kind of way.

  6. “pico de gallo”

    in Mexico, a delicious sauce… in Chile, something ENTIRELY different, much to the very hearty amusement of my host family and my own embarrassment!

  7. para laprincesayasin

    in el salvador its also used that way….fijate o fijese….it has two meanings…and how you apply it…fijate y fijese does not have a set rule on how to be used

  8. you also forgot chulo/chula ….bonita/bonito ….mira…esa bicha esta bien chula…..look…that girl is very pretty

  9. Lol i have said all of this at one point, but I think u missed one of the biggest ones, vos, haha when i went to el salvador a few months ago I bought a shirt thats says “sabes que eres salvadoreño sí hablas así” I don’t have the shirt in front of me but it says something like that and there are so many phrases on it, words that salvadoreans use, its really funny.

  10. My favorite favorite growing up “fijate.”

    See? See? Now do you get it? LOVE IT. Thanks for posting, b/c the memories that come back, priceless.

  11. My husband and is family are really ‘malcreados’ when it comes to their ‘isms’. My husband’s favorite is ‘coma mierda’ or ‘eat shit’. Another one I hear a lot is ‘chuco/a’. Like ‘Tu cara esta toda chuca’ or ‘Your face is all dirty’.

  12. Vichita vichito

  13. Good start, but don’t forget “pisto” or “plata” referring to money; “bicho” referring to kids instead of insects; “trucho” for being smart or wise; “llevate a cucucho/tutucho” for sitting on one’s shoulders.

  14. These take me back, I have a cousin who was born and raised in the states and whenever my aunt called us bichos or bichas he always thought she was calling us bitches in Spanish!

    • LOL – Yes, that’s what it sounded like to me as a native English speaker the first time I heard it.

  15. I know I’m late to the party on this post, but… Are these exclusively Salvadoran?? I use/hear most of them all the time! I never knew I was using Salvadoran slang, just thought it was Spanish!

    • Hi Eddie! Where did you learn Spanish? Are most of your friends Salvadoran or Central American? … A lot of Salvadoran slang is used throughout Central America. A couple of these may be used in other countries but not necessarily with the same exact meaning.

  16. quihubo means hi, hello; salu means bye or ciao; huevon or guevon means lazy bum; chevere (same as in Colombia) means nice, beautiful; mono chillon, means cry-baby; bayunco means clown; ese volado, el volado, means that thing the thing; jeton means loose or big mouth; acurrucarse, to crouch, etc. etc.

  17. You know, “maje” actually means “guy” or “individual” according to the formal usage in Spanish language, but we Salvadorans use it as an adjective.

  1. Pingback: Que Yucca ser tanchi, until Anthro did petites! |

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