As the weeks race past me, I am very slowly starting to get the feeling that my Spanish ability might actually be improving! It’s difficult to explain the sense of satisfaction, a little bit like a ‘lightbulb’ moment, when I hop into a taxi and can note the number of words that six weeks ago I wouldn’t have had a chance of understanding.
That is, until it comes to conversing with the costeños. Honestly, I could count the number of times on one hand that I haven’t started my morning off by asking a costeño colleague to repeat themselves. Of course, it’s only ever after finally giving up that I realise they were asking how my weekend went… and so ensues half an hour of intense blushing and embarrassment-induced nausea.
This does all have an advantage, though: maybe because I’m forced to listen so much harder in these situations, I’ve managed to pick up a good few phrases of theirs.
And funnily enough, I’m off to the Caribbean coast this weekend, so I look forward to putting a few of these into practice – ‘aguacatao’ and ‘¡nooombe!’ in particular – and probably getting plenty of ‘even-my-grandmother-has-stopped-saying-that’ looks. I reckon it’s worth a try.
Un aguacatao’: Controversial for all the Europeans convincing themselves of the complexity of the avocado’s flavour, this is used to describe someone as a ‘bore’.
¡Ajá! : A short, informal greeting.
¡A ñoñi! : ‘Yeah, of course!’
Atarbán: Someone who’s brusque or blunt.
¡A vaina! : An exclamation used to congratulate someone on their achievement.
Un bollo: A very attractive person. Oi oi.
Recocha / Bololó : A mess or fight.
Burro: Someone who smokes marijuana. Goodness! I’m yet to meet one of those.
Un chócoro: used to refer to something you can’t remember the name of - like ‘thing(y)’, etc. in English.
El cucayo: a side dish made out of the rice leftovers mixed with meat sauce.
Entrompar: To smooch/kiss/canoodle: you name it.
La esnaqui: A corner – any of the more astute Spanish-speakers amongst you will note that this is an anagram of the word ‘esquina´.
Mamar gallo: to pull someone’s leg.
Estar mondao/pelá: To be ‘broke’. Where did I overhear this phrase? Amongst a group of whining students, of course.
Nombe: ‘No’ + ‘hombre’ = ¡Nooombe! The more ‘o’s involved, the more heightened the sense of disagreement!
Un parampanpam: A job that seems to be completed well but which is actually botched. Wish I’d had the guts to use this when I left the hairdresser the other day, crying inside.
Cipotúo/mamellúo: Something really big!
Vacile: A popular, well-liked style which covers fashion, character traits and the like.
¡Yerda! : An abbreviation of the very long word, ‘mierda’, this is used to exclaim shock! Cheeky!
Stay tuned for next week’s equally confused instalment of my Colombianismos: Santander Edit.
Especial para EL TIEMPO