Colombian Spanish - Common Expressions - Slang Words

Slang Words

Slang talk is frequent in popular culture, especially in the barrios of big cities. In the Paisa region and Medellín, the local slang is named "Parlache". Many slang expressions have spread outside of their original areas to become commonly understood throughout the country. While some words eventually lose their status as slang, others continue to be considered as such by most speakers, and many of these words are considered vulgar and rude by some people, especially in Bogotá. The process of slang expressions expanding beyond their original group of speakers often leads the original users to replace the words with other, less-recognized terms to maintain group identity. Although prescriptive grammarians often describe this kind of language as crass or distasteful, it is a continuing linguistic phenomenon with clear sociological importance.

Many of these words have been popularized by the Colombian media, such as Alonso Salazar's book, No nacimos pa' semilla, Victor Gaviria´s movie Rodrigo D. no futuro, or Andrés López's monologue "La pelota de letras" ("The Lettered Ball"), as well as many other cultural expressions, including telenovelas, magazines, news coverage, jokes, etc..

Some slang terms with literal translation and meaning are:

  • abrirse ("to split up"): to leave.
  • aporrear: to accidentally fall.
  • bacán, bacano, bacana: someone or something cool, kind, friendly.
  • barra (" bar"): one thousand Colombian pesos.
  • brutal: extremely cool, really awesome (only for things). ¡Esa película fue brutal!—That movie was so cool!
  • caliente ("hot"): dangerous.
  • catorce ("fourteen"): a favor.
  • charlar: to chat, sometimes to gossip.
  • chévere: cool, admirable, .
  • chino: ("Chinese"): child..
  • cojo ("lame, wobbly"): weak or lacking sense.
  • comerse a alguien ("to eat somebody"): to have sex.
  • Farra: Party
  • filo ("sharp"): hunger.
  • fresco ("fresh"): "Be cool!"
  • golfa: a promiscuous woman.
  • guayabo: a hangover (resaca in other parts of Latin America). Ay, estoy enguayabado. Dame un cafecito, porfa. - "Oh, I'm hungover. Give me some coffee please."
  • levantar: (1) to pick up a woman or a man (example: Me levanté una vieja anoche — "I picked up a girl last night"); (2) to beat someone up.
  • ligar ("to tie"): to give money, to bribe.
  • llave ("key"): friend.
  • mamar: to suck off.
  • mariconadas: joking around (Deje las mariconadas - "Stop joking around").
  • marica ("faggot"): a term of endearment used among friends. Depending on the tone of voice, it can be understood as an insult. Maricón is a harsher, less-friendly variant.
  • mierda ("shit"): a really mean person.
  • paquete ("package"): one million Colombian pesos.
  • parce or parcero: comrade (derived from parcelo, slang for owner of a plot of land (parcela)). Originally used as "cell mate" (sharing the same plot of land); its usage devolved into "partner in crime". Used only in criminal circles from late the 1970s, it is now used openly in almost every urban center. Colombian singer and Medellín-native Juanes named his album P.A.R.C.E. after this local phrase.
  • perder el año: (1) to get an F (grade)); (2) to die.
  • plata ("silver"): money.
  • plomo ("lead"): bullets.
  • porfa (from por favor): please.
  • ratero (from rata "rat"): robber.
  • rumbear: to make out; to go clubbing (leading to making out).
  • sapo ("toad"): informant, snitch, tattletale.
  • sardino, sardina ("sardine"): a young person.
  • sereno (also chiflón): a mild disease or indisposition; associated with cold breezes (example: Me entró el sereno — "I think I got sick").
  • sisas: yes (considered low-class).
  • soroche: fainting (example: Me dió soroche — "I passed out").
  • taladro ("drill"): a man who has sex with boys.
  • teso: expert, "hardcore" (someone who is very good at doing something).
  • tombo: policeman.
  • tragado ("swallowed"): having a crush on someone.
  • trillar ("to thresh"): to make out; it is also used to indicate that something has been overused (example: Ya esta trillado eso - "That is overused")
  • tirar ("to throw, to shoot"): to have sex.
  • vaina ("case): a loose term for "things", refers to an object or to a complicated situation.
  • video: (1) a lie, (2) an overreaction, (3) a problem.
  • vieja ("old woman"): woman, mom.
  • "viejo" or "viejito" ("old man"): dude, friend, dad.

It is also very advisable that a foreigner refrain from using these expressions, as they are generally vulgar in nature and tend to denote condescension or a sort of cultural insensitivity, also it is highly recommended for foreigners to be very careful if they indeed desire to use these words, as they can be taken to mean something else and can get one into problems. People who use these words frequently tend to be regarded as of low social status, and the highly cultured population never utilizes slang as part of their everyday language. Also you must never utilize slang in a formal setting as this is considered disrespectful and condescending.

Read more about this topic:  Colombian Spanish, Common Expressions

Famous quotes containing the words words and/or slang:

    It was only just words, words,—they meant nothing in the world to him, I might just as well have whistled. Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.
    Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835–1910)

    It is a mass language only in the same sense that its baseball slang is born of baseball players. That is, it is a language which is being molded by writers to do delicate things and yet be within the grasp of superficially educated people. It is not a natural growth, much as its proletarian writers would like to think so. But compared with it at its best, English has reached the Alexandrian stage of formalism and decay.
    Raymond Chandler (1888–1959)