Slang in costa rica


Ticos are amused and delighted when foreigners try to speak Spanish, especially when they include tiquismos expressions that are peculiar to Costa Rican or Central American culture.

Not only the vocabulary, but the way of using words is important, Spanish speakers use a lot of muletillas (fillers, literal in their speech. They "address" the person with

whom they are speaking more often than is done in English, and they do it in a way that English speakers might consider slightly offensive. It is common that women will be called mamita , madre , mi hijita , (little mother, mother, my little daughter, all roughly corresponding to "honey"). Latin people love to use salient physical characteristics as nicknames. Common ones are gordo (fatty), flaco (skinny), macho or macha (Costa Rican for fair-skinned or fair haired), negro (dark-skinned), chino (it doesn't matter if you're Asian or just have slightly slanting eyes, your name is Chino), gato (blue or green eyes). You just have to be slightly gordo or flaco to merit those names. If you're really gordo or flaco , and people really like you, you get a special name like repollito (little cabbage) or palito (little stick). Gordo and negro are commonly used as terms of endearment, regardless of appearance.

Any male under thirty is usually called maje by his friends. This is a special Costa Rican measure of friendship, which literally means "dummy" but figuratively is more like pal or buddy. It is used widely as a muletilla .

Majes have various expressions of approval such as the famous pura vida (great, terrific), or tuanis (cool), buena nota (groovy). Mala nota is un-groovy, furris is un-cool and salado means "too bad for you".

Expressions of extreme approval are que bruto , que barbaro - and disapproval, que horror , or fatal , maje .

The above are the slang expressions of urban youth. However, all Ticos are aware of polite, courteous and respectful forms of speech. They make their world more pleasant by using little. expressions of appreciation. For example, if someone helps you in a store or on the street, you say " Muchas gracias, muy amable " (Thank you very much, you are very kind), and they will say " Con mucho gusto " (With much pleasure).

It is customary in the morning to ask " Como amanecio " (How did you wake up?) " Muy bien, por dicha, y usted ?" (Very well, luckily, and you?) " Muy bien, gracias a Dios ." (Very well, thank God.)

When talking about a future event or plan, Ticos will often include si Dios quiere (if God wants, God willing): " Nos vemos el martes, si Dios quiere ." (We'll see each other Tuesday, God willing.)

If you are in the city and see someone on the other side of the street that you know, you call " Adios !" In the countryside, when you pass someone on the road, it is customary to say adios even if you don't know them. In these situations, adios means hello. It is only used to mean goodbye when you're going away for good. Everyday goodbyes are hasta luego (until then, until later), and the other person might add " Que Dios le acompane " (May God accompany you).

Giving a coin to a beggar in the street often earns you a special blessing: he or she will say " Dios se lo pague " (May God repay you).

Vos is a form of second person singular address used throughout Central America instead of tu . Small children, however, are usually addressed as usted , probably in order to teach them to use this more respectful form with their elders, until they know how to make the differentiation themselves. The fact that the archaic vos is used even now in Costa Rica shows how isolated it was during colonial times. The verb form used with vos is made by changing the r on the end of an infinitive to s and accenting the last syllable. Thus with the verb poder , " tu puedes " becomes " vos podes '', and with sentirse , " tu te sientes " becomes " vos te sentis ".

Other fillers that are used commonly in Spanish are terms like fijate , imaginate , and vieras que , for which there are no real equivalents in English. Roughly, they could be translated as "would you believe" or "just think!" These expressions are used to give emphasis to what the speaker is saying. For example:

" Fijate vos que no me dejaron entrar !" (Would you believe it--they wouldn't let me in!)

" Imaginese Como me dio pena verla as i" (Imagine how bad I felt to see her like that.)

Vieras is often used to give the equivalent of the way we use "sure" in English: " Vieras que gusto me dio !'' (I sure was scared, or, you should have seen how it scared me.)

Achara is another particularly tico expression which indicates regret at a loss: " Fijese que el perro comio mis begonias. achara mis florecitas ." (Would you believe it--the dog ate my begonias. My poor little flowers!)

When you come to someone's house, especially in the country, it is customary to stand on the ground near the porch and say " Upe !" as a way of letting them know you're there. When they ask you to come in, as you enter the house you say " Con permiso " (with your permission). If they offer you something to eat, it is much more polite to accept than not to accept. Giving makes people happy, and if you don't let them give to you, it hurts them. People will ask you about your family, whether you're married, how many children you have. Most can't quite grasp the idea of people not being married or not having children. When you're sitting and talking and finally no one can think of anything else to say, you say, " Pues, si " (Well, yes).

Learn some of these expressions and practice them until you don't make any metidas de pata (literally, "putting your foot in it", or mistakes). Ticos will be glad to help you. If you do make a mistake, there is a word which is instant absolution: just say, " Diay ?" That means, "Well, what can you expect?" or "What can be done about it?" As you get to know the Ticos , you'll find out that this little word comes in very handy.

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