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.