Chilenismos: The Gringas Guide to the Chilean Galaxy

Marley Crank
January 5, 2016

Whenever I go to a new place there are a few things I notice immediately: flow of the people, frequency of coffee shops, and the language. Language is something so important and so beautiful, yet when it is familiar we hardly think about it. IES Abroad's program in Santiago, Chile is full-on immersion, so we had to have a little bit of Spanish knowledge going in to the semester. I think we were all at least comfortable with the idea of holding daily life conversations in Spanish. 

"Hola! Buenos días, como estas? Yo quiero café por favor, nono sin leche. Oye! Mira la hora! Tengo que irme, adiós!"

Nothing too complicated, pretty basic stuff. But,what no one was prepared for was Chilean Spanish:

"Oye, weon! Como estai? Y esta cuestion, sin leche po! No me gusta leche, cachai? Tengo que irme, la escuela está por la chucha. Chao!"

The first time I heard a Chilean speak without any kind of "oh she is a foreigner" filter on, I felt like I had never taken a Spanish class in my entire life. Chilean Spanish is so cool, but so hard to get your mind around without some kind of understanding of what these words mean. It is also helpful to have a basic understanding because, and I cannot stress this enough, Chileans talk very fast. So, here is my "Gringas Guide to the Chilean Galaxy":

  1. Po: Don't try and think of this word in the context of any English word. It's something said at the end of sentences or phrases to kind of indicate a sense of definitiveness. For example: "Quieres ir a la fiesta?" "Sipo!" But, you would only use the "po" in this context if you really wanted to go 
  2. Weon: Oh weon, how I love/hate this word. It is essentially dude...if you are friends with the person and the context of the conversation is informal. Otherwise, it can be the equivalent of idiot or a-hole (so be super careful using this one). Chileans also use it....A LOT. Sometimes you'll listen to a sentence and understand 10 times. You're not going crazy, yes you are understanding what they are saying. 
  3. Cachai: This one is simple and awesome. Honestly, it's the most simple to use. It's a filler that means "you know?" or "got it?".
  5. Al tiro: Literally means, right away or right now. At a restaurant a waiter could say "al tiro" to signify they will be right back with the food, or that it will be right out. Or if you hear your Chilean mom telling your Chilean sibling "al tiro" you know they mean get your ropa to the laundry room right now. 
  6. Fome: The Chilean version of aburrito, boring or simply not cool. 
  7. Pololo/aThis is how Chileans say boyfriend/girlfriend. Novio/a is more serious like "intended to be engaged" and then andante is kind of signifying "this is the person I am seeing" 
  8. Flaite: This word is used to describe something or someone all around sketchy or with bad intentions
  9. WeaThing. Prestame este wea=pass me that thing
  10. Como estai?Don't worry! The Chileans do not have a different verb conjugation, it's just a shortening for como estas or how are you. Just sounds a little wonky upon first listen. 

These are just 10 of the countless words and phrases you will learn as you embark on your Chilean study abroad journey. Have patience with yourself and carry a little notepad/journal to write down what you learn or hear during the day. Talk to Chileans, they will be your biggest help in learning the ins and outs of the local dialect :)

<3 la gringa



Marley Crank

<div>Hi there! I&#39;m Marley, 19 years old from Maryland :) I am a cheese appreciator, lover of the earth, and hopeful human. I&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">am extremely grateful to be in Santiago and hope that this blog helps to capture my experiences so that others may&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">share in them.</span></div>

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