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:
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!)