Annje speaks Chilensis

Call it Spanglish, call it Spangli-shilean, call it Chilensis–what it is is the Spanish–excuse me–Castellano (I stand corrected!) that you hear on urban streets every day. It’s fast and fun and full of idiomatic expressions that no non-native-Chilensis-speaker could ever figure out on their own. I never dreamed that the recent post on the Rooster from the Glue would receive all the attention it has (see for yourself: Gringas die Laughing!), and I’ve been thrilled by all the response and contributions to the Glossary (which is going to take a while to get updated–now you know what I’LL be doing this weekend!)

Annje of (Annje Unabashed) is a frequent reader of Cachando Chile and she sent me her hilarious version of a little bad translation fun:

Annje says:
I can never resist the opportunity to play around with language, so to take up Margaret’s challenge, here goes my translation, with a brief introduction… better late than never.

When I first arrived in Chile, I thought I would be fine in terms of language. I had, after all, majored in Spanish and spent 4 whole months in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I was good to go… or so I thought. I quickly learned otherwise.

Not only is the Chilean accent fast, often with the mysterious disappearance of the last consonant, especially the “s,” but it is full of what you might call informal language. There are more slang expressions in “buen chilensis” than you can shake a stick at. Many of them defy direct translation: chamullento (teller of tall tales), achaplinarse (back out of something), or engrupir (win someone over with lies/smooth talk). You have to come up with an entire phrase in English (of course there are words in English that don’t translate well into Spanish either.)

There are also informal conjugations that no one ever mentioned in any Spanish class I took: Andai con plata? Qué querí? Qué tení? Qué mirai? It’s not vosotros… It’s not vos… What is it? I don’t know, but I love it, I love all of it.

I learned new “modismos” (slang) every day, but my intensive course came when I started hanging out with my “pololo’s” (BF) family. His sister, now my cuñada (sis-in-law), who is a brilliant child psychologist, is also the Queen of Slang. Not only is she on the cutting edge of newly-coined terminology, but she is also a master word-mixer herself, inventing terms and putting clever twists on common ones.

When I first met her, I didn’t even understand a “J” (no entendí ni jota = I didn’t understand anything). They all thought it was so funny because she would be telling a story and I would be sitting there dialing busy (marcando ocupado = with a blank look because of miscomprehension). She was my gauge of success: when I understood everything she said, I knew I was fluent in “Chilensis.”

This is a completely fabricated story in her honor. I think she would be proud!

This is what it would look like in direct translation:

We went out the other day with the skinny to take a few swallows and throw the size. The only can was that skinny’s boyfriend, who appears until the soup, arrives with a striped face and starts treating her like the lining because she hadn’t answered her phone.

The stupid big egg had already smoked a whistle and he put himself to suck like the condemned… he was totally cooked. He continues throwing her the seal, accusing her of putting the hat on him and of having black feet hidden over there who wanted to saw the floor from (under) him. Skinny told him nothing to see and that he was peeling cables. But the type grabbed skinny’s monkey tail and threw it against the wall. He left the broom—it was half a scandal. More on top, the broken, stick face left blown without paying. He did the dead dog… With Skinny we had to pay the bill with the broken glass and all that left salted. What an iron!

So, let’s see how close you were:

Salimos el otro día con la flaca a echar la talla y tomar unos tragos. La única lata fue que el pololo de la flaca, que aparece hasta en la sopa, llega con cara de rayado y el empieza a tratarla como el forro porque no había contestado el teléfono.

El huevón tonto ya se había fumado un pito y se puso a chupar como condenado… estaba totalmente cocido. Seguía echándole la foca, acusándola de ponerle el gorro, y de tener un patas negras escondido por ahí que quería aserrucharle el piso. La flaca le dijo que nada que ver, que estaba pelando cables. Pero el tipo agarró su cola de mono y la tiró contra la pared. Dejó la escoba– fue el medio escándalo.

Más encima, el roto cara de palo salió soplado sin pagar. ¡Hizo el perro muerto! Con la flaca tuvimos que pagar toda la cuenta con el vaso roto y todo que salió salado. ¡Qué plancha!

This is what it might look like in loose translation into normal English.

My friend and I went out the other day to have a few drinks and have fun chatting. The only bummer was that her boyfriend, who seems to follow her everywhere, shows up looking a little crazy and starts giving her a bad time because she hadn’t answered her phone.

The stupid jerk had already smoked a joint and then started downing drinks like it was going out of style… he got totally wasted. But he keeps chewing her out, accusing her of cheating on him, of having a lover hidden somewhere who wanted to take his place. She told him there was no way and that he had totally lost it. So the guy grabs her drink (Cola de mono is a little like Bailey’s) and throws it against the wall. He made a mess, it was a huge scandal.

Then on top of that, the shameless, low-class trash flew out of there without paying his bill. My friend and I had to cover the tab, even the broken glass, which was expensive. How embarrassing!

Disclaimer: this story is completely fictitious and is in no way characteristic of any of my real experiences in Chile and is not meant to insinuate, imply, or suggest that Chilean men are violently jealous drunken potheads.

Annje lived in Chile for almost 4 years and has been married to a Chilean for 8 years. They are raising two little Gringo-Chileans in Texas where she is completing a Ph.D. They are planning to return to Chile when she finishes (which will be “soon” OK!)


21 responses to “Annje speaks Chilensis

  1. Pingback: Chilean Spanglish Spoken Here: A Rooster from the Glue « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  2. El post te quedó la raja. Saludos.

  3. La pura verdad, ¡la Annje se pasó!

  4. That was brilliant… these posts have made me laugh out loud. To contribute a bit, there is one of these translations that has always been a classic with my friends: “drink a chair please” (tome asiento por favor…)

  5. Aren’t these fun? The reporter who wrote about this called it a movement… he may be onto something!
    And to add to that drink a chair classic, you have to add “Between no more”! (entre nomás)!!

  6. My husband asked why “skinny” was drinking Cola de mono and not a Pisco sour. I told him the translation for Pisco sour is not very funny… plus it was around Christmas time 😉

  7. No, pisco sours are not very funny–TASTY, yes–funny, not so much! I’ll get my chuckles with the “Monkey’s Tail” any day… although I once saw it translated (and published!) as Monkey TALE… I wonder what kind of story THAT critter was telling?

  8. Annje, Informal conjugations revealed…
    These conjugations must come from italian influence to Santiago. ‘Stare’ verb in italian
    goes… Io sto, tu stai, il sta, etc. Then, this was applied to normal spanish verbs as well as not so normal chilean verbs (cachar). It comes natural to say…, como ‘tai from italian ‘come stai’ and then…, ‘cachai’ from verb ‘cachare’, which of course does not exist, etc.

  9. Miguel- Thanks so much for that! I have always wondered where that came from and thought it was a variant of vosotros. It certainly makes sense given the strong Italian influence in Argentina… Next question… while this would explain the change in endings of the “ar” verbs, does the er/ir verb change to “í” (tener–> tení) follow through from Italian as well?

  10. Miguel is very wrong.

    Please picture a conquistador in armor telling his fellow soldier “¿cómo estáis?, ¿ tenéis un doblón que me prestéis?” This is old fashioned vos.

    Now drop a few letters and change a word and you get current Chilean Spanish: “¿cómo estái? ¿tenís una luca que me prestís?”

    Chilean voseo is analogous to the Argentinian one, but Argentinians drop different letters: “¿cómo estás? ¿tenés una luca que me prestés?”


  11. Pedro- very interesting… and this is what I had always thought- that it was the Chilean “vos” without the s… which always made sense seeing as Chileans tend to drop their s’s anyway. Very interesting wiki link too! Thanks…

  12. se ve que te interesa mucho esto de los modismos y te divierte
    yo te lo podria traducir en argentino con todos nuestros dicho
    aclaro antes que nada, que me costo enterderle a la chilena
    aca va en argentino

    Salimos el otro día con la mina a chismearnos algo y chupar otro tanto. La única cagada es que el chongo de la piba, que aparece hasta en la sopa, llega con una cara de pirado y empieza a tratarla para el carajo porque no había contestado el teléfono.
    El pendejo boludo ya se había fumado una pitada (no se bien a que se refiere con pito en esa frase pero quizás que es lo mismo que una pitada) y se puso a chupar como un condenado, estaba totalmente mamado. Seguía hechandole la bronca, jodiendola con que le había metido los cuernos y que tenía algún chongo escondido por ahí que quería cagarle la mina. La flaca le dijo que nada que ver y que se estaba haciendo la cabeza. Pero el tipo agarro su “cola de mono” y la revoleo contra la pared. Hizo un quilombo y fue un escandalo.
    Y encima el culo roto salio rajando sin garpar.¡ se hizo el pelotudo!. Con la flaca tuvimos que garpar toda la cuenta con el vaso roto y todo salio un huevo. ¡que mierda!

    la verdad que te puede haber puesto en ingles pero lo tenia que pensar mucho mas de lo que me llevo desifrar el idioma chileno y depues argentinozarlo. asi que la explicacion esta en castellano

    esta barbaro me cague de risa con la chilena

  13. Hola Sabri! ¡Qué bueno eso! Me encanto! ¿Te imaginas cómo sería traducirlo a todos los “idiomas” de America Latina y España? Sería genial!
    Gracias por tu aporte!

  14. Hola Margaret! Oye , “cachureando” tu blog me puse a ver esto de los dichos ,aquí te mando el link de un blog de dichos chilenos (pero tb se usan en gran parte de latinoamérica) ojalá te guste , bye…

  15. Hola Nano-
    Muchas gracias! Buenísima la lista! No ofrece explicaciones, lo que significa que voy a tener que investigar pues– y me imagino que ya hayas cachado que me gusta investigar! La gracia real de ese blog (Dichos Populares Chilenos) son las imagines que el autor (Leonardo Sepúlveda) pinta para ilustrarlos! ¡Genial!

  16. Yo te las puedo explicar , y veré si encuentro algo en donde te las expliquen , bye…

  17. Genial–de hecho, hace tiempo he estado trabajando una lista para agregar al glosario!

  18. Y o , otra vez! Aquí te mando 2 ejemplos , voy a mandarte una recopilación de los dichos y chilenismos , una vez que los termine de transcribir y ponerle su significado; te dejo los 2 ej: A buen entendedor pocas palabras (se señala cuando no es necesario ser más explícito en la explicación o en lo que se contó , generalmente se usa con situaciones cotidianas , u hechos que ocurren)
    A caballo regalado no se le miran los dientes (generalmente se dice a modo de broma o en modo sarcástico , cuando te llega un regalo que no es mucho de tu gusto, o si lo es , no tiene mayor importancia, y se dice en el ambito privado x ej a tu marido le llega un regalo (algo que ya tiene o como lo explicado antes ) y tu le dices : a caballo regalado no se le miran los dientes!
    cachate o no? saludos y que estes muy bien….bye

  19. Muy gueno, muy gueno este post. Puchas que son inteligentes estos gringos. Yo he vivido en Norte America mas de 35 años I todavia tengo problemas con los modismos. No ha sido na’ de facil.
    Shakespeare’s version (I wish)
    That’s a very very good post. Boy those gringos are pretty smart cookies. I have lived in North America for over 35 years and I still have trouble with slang and idioms. Honestly, I think I manage pretty well in English, but boy it hasn’t been a walk in the park, let me tell you.

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