As some of the most curious readers may know after reading the about page, I’m from Venezuela; I actually live there so I surely know at least something about idioms and regional variations (west-east becomes really different, and even in the west, the Andean region speaks at a slow pace, different from south-west states, with a fast pace and different slangs). We need to considerate geographic isolations for language to evolve, as it works on species.
So, I live in the east, where people talk fast and… Badly. Anyway the reason I’m writing this is because I found this article from Wikipedia: Venezuelan Spanish (don’t worry, it’s in english). It has a whole list of Venezuelan words for almost everything, and explanations about the dialects per se. As, for example, Venezuelans often shorten words, avoiding the sound of the letter “d” when in between vowels: Like helado (ice cream) changes, in pronunciation, to hela’o. It’s weird, but that’s common on almost every american spanish speaker country, even in the Canary islands and southern Spain. Obviously, many people don’t do that, as is commonly associated with a bad education.
I knew that, yet I didn’t know the enormous quantity of words Venezuelans use to refer to so many things! I’m going to write a little list of the most weird words people here use (Not me, as I didn’t even knew these word meant that here). So, here’s the list:
Bajarse de la mula = exp. To pay for something. To be demanded for money. To be robbed. Lit. “To get off the mule”.
My comment: Yeah, I knew the meaning, but can’t avoid laughing while seeing both “To pay for something” and “To get off the mule” as the same thing. It’s just funny, who invented that?
Carajo(a) = n. A dude (profane). Lit. Crow’s nest.
My comment: I didn’t even know it meant “a crow’s nest”, and again: who came up with that?
Chivo = n. The Boss, someone at a high position in an organization. Lit. Goat.
My comment: So, my boos will be a goat? “Chivo” is “goat”, but WTF? “The boss”?!
Example: “El Chivo que más mea” (The goat who pisses the most) = the most important person.
My comment: …
Costilla = n. An affectionate way of a man to name his female partner. The term is a reference to the origin of Eve. Lit. Rib.
My comment: How romantic…
Guayabo = n. To be romantically disillusioned. To have the Blues. Lit. Tree of the guava fruit.
My comment: Again, who in hell would think of this? Guayabo? a tree? Like “He is Guayabo, leave him alone”? I sound exactly as stupid in spanish.
Marico = n. Commonly used as ‘dude’ between friends. ‘Marica‘ may also be used between girl friends (profane/pejorative). Lit. A gay man.
My comment: so yeah, really tolerant community… (it’s not, actually).
Pavo, pava = adj. or n. Trendy or well dressed adolescent, kid, youngster. Lit. Turkey.
My comment: tell me how is some adult tell some kid he’s a… Turkey?! (or between parent) “Oh, what a turkey you daughter is!”
Zanahoria = n. Someone who zealously takes care of his/her own health. A vegetarian. A person that behaves well, nerd. Straight, clean. adj. A boring, dull person. Lit. Carrot.
My comment: Guess what? I’m a freaking carrot!
My comment: no comment, but what if I don’t really like ham?
Finally, defining latin-american culture and respect for woman:
- Teta = n. A source of guaranteed income. Lit. Female breast.
It feels strange to look at this list (the one from Wikipedia) and realize that… I didn’t know most of the words! Not the actual meaning but what were they used for. Spanish is a language widely used around the world, being spoken in more than half a continent and on Spain and who knows where else. But I can say, it differs a lot from regions. Even in my own country some east guy could visit the Andean regions and don’t understand a word, as most my family (from the Andean) say we talk too fast.