Tag Archives: Chilean Spanish

Available on “All 5 Continents”

Image by Ssolbergj via Wikipedia

What do geography and translation have in common?
Here’s a hint: How many continents do YOU think there are? (Oh yes, a question can TOO be a hint!)

Not seeing it? OK, here goes. Both geography and translating have a cultural component. Still no “ah-hah!”? Let me back up then.

I do a lot of translating from Spanish to English and often stumble onto (or over) the claim that something is “disponible en todos los 5 continentes,” which very straight-forwardly (though perhaps somewhat non-sensically) translates to “available on all 5 continents.”

But Wait. Just. A. Minute! Whaddya mean all FIVE continents? Everyone knows there are SEVEN continents! Continue reading

Insider tips to Chile: Part I

What do you need to know to get your bearings in Chile? This is the first in a series of posts on the basics of getting acquainted with everyday aspects of life in Chile… in other words “Cachando Chile 101.”

Chilean FlagI don’t get a lot of visitors from “back home.”
I have to admit—we really aren’t kidding when we say that Chile is at the ends of the Earth! But I am very happy to report that my best friend from grad school, Kathleen Skoczen (now Chair of the Anthropology Dept at Southern Connecticut University) is here for research (and pleasure), and I’m doing my best to bring her up to speed on the do’s and don’t of getting around. It’s not the Spanish that will get her, but rather Chile’s particular quirks.

The following is something of a fast-track Intro to Chile, with some very basic yet vital information about how to get started in Chile, from the airport to your door to the street…

Continue reading

Language Play & Politics a la Chilensis

The Clinic, mina, puns, language**This post was “Freshly Pressed” on November 18, 2010.

Chile’s alternative  news weekly, The Clinic (firme al pueblo, por supuesto) is a master at attention-grabbing and deliciously irreverent headlines that require a very good understanding not only of Chilean Spanish, but of Chile’s current events. If you’re a foreigner here in Chile, make a point of regularly checking out the covers at your local newsstand—and give yourself a big pat on the back if you get the headlines—it’s a sure sign you’re making progress on your cultural and linguistic Chilensis.

English humor seems to be more language-based than Spanish is. A lot is based on puns, which aren’t very frequent in Spanish, but they do come up from time to time, and The Clinic is one of the best sources for finding them. I spotted this cover a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t resist a giggle. Continue reading

Motels, Saunas and other “Traveler Bewares”

And you thought you knew your native language!

Western Motel in Pink

Image by Jeep Novak! via Flickr

There are plenty of surprises to be discovered on the road, and one that can have funny (or downright weird) consequences is when we discover that the language we grew up with doesn’t quite work the same way in another region or culture.

Take a motel, for example—a “motor hotel” along the highway…A no-frills and inexpensive place to sleep and get back on the road to your real destination the next day—right?
Well, could be… unless you’re in Chile… Continue reading

BYOTP in Chile

I suspect that anyone who has done any amount of traveling outside their comfort zone is familiar with the acronym “BYOTP.” For those who are not, let me spell it out for you, because if you’re a woman in Chile, this is going to become pretty important: Bring Your Own Toilet Paper.

Confort toilet paperOf course this is an odd—less than delicate, shall we say—topic, but let’s face it, there are things that a traveler just needs to be forewarned about, and the whole idea behind Cachando Chile is to let you in on the things that no one else ever bothers to mention!

And since Eileen kicked it off today with her piece on “The Case of the Hot TP,” I figured it’s time to pass on a bit of advice for newbies that I’ve been planning to haul out at the right time… and it seems there’s no time like the present. Continue reading

Me duele la cabeza: Whose head hurts you?

IbuprofenWhose hair is that on your head? Whose throbbing molar is making you suffer? Whose aching back has put you out of commission for the weekend? Mastering a new language involves far more than memorizing vocabulary and verb conjugations. It also means adapting to unexpected combinations of words and ideas that can put some very basic notions of how the world works to the test. For example, what is uniquely yours and what is not.

In contrast to my last post (Ya mi niña, Who do YOU belong to? ), which pondered certain possessive idiosyncrasies of spoken Spanish (mi niña, mi reina, mi mamá), today I flip to the polar extreme and wonder why it is that Spanish speakers seem to disown body parts, which could not possibly be more uniquely personal.

For example, want to get your hair cut? Go ahead and tell someone “Necesito cortar mi pelo” (I need to cut my hair)… chuckle, chortle, ha-ha-ha… no you don’t… what you need to say is: Continue reading

Ya mi niña: who do YOU belong to?

Mi, mi, mi… A few thoughts on linguistic ownership today.

Ya mi niña, nos vemos…

¿Mi niña? I thought, there it is again… Mi niña—my girl—an oddly common expression in Chilean vernacular. I had really tried not be drawn into the cell phone conversation going on next to me in the crowded waiting room yesterday and was pretty successful until the blah-blah-blah, ha-ha-ha, turned to “ya mi niña.” It’s one of those expressions that often seems to signal the end of a conversation and always grabs my attention. I knew she was not talking to her daughter.

Mi niña, mi hija, mi reina, mi general, mi mamá…. who do YOU belong to? Continue reading