Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Contrary to popular belief, Chileans do not have a monopoly on distinctive slang. I was reminded of this yesterday, when I stepped out of the shower and exclaimed, "Achachay!"

Had a Chilean overheard me, she may have assumed I had stepped on a nail or reached some kind of psychological breaking point. A Quitenian, on the other hand, would have known I was freezing. I can't count the number of times I've had to explain myself in Chile after sputtering an "Achachay!".

Herein lies the curse -- and the blessing -- of the globetrotter. After spending months adjusting your vocabulary to the local dialect, you find yourself transplanted somewhere where people have absolutely no idea what the hell you're talking about. Frustrating? Yes. But also demonstrative of the richness and diversity of language.

Without further ado, I present a list of Andean Ecuadorian slang words that I miss:

Achachay! - Brrr!
Llucho - Naked
Chuchaqui - Hung over
Huasipichai - Housewarming party
Fffff - Quito's version of "po," used in many of the same contexts

For example:

“¿Tienes frío?”
“Sífffff. Quedé llucho y chuchaqui después del huasipichai.”


“Are you cold?”
“Yeah. I ended up naked and hung over after the housewarming party.”

In Chilean:

(Some sound to indicate being cold)
"¿Tay con frío?"
"Sí po. Quedé en pelota y con caña después del carrete de inauguración."

Tomato and tomahto, right?


lydia said...

OK, I must say, huasipichai sounds like the coolest word ever.

Sara said...

I agree with Lydia. Great word. Don't know if I could ever say it.

Maeskizzle said...

word. I love slang! Check out this book review. I think you'll enjoy it:

If anyone comes across this book, I want to read it ;)

Leigh said...

That book sounds like a riot. I wonder if they include "fome." That's one I've never been able to translate, because "boring" just doesn't work in all contexts. I can't think of a one-word translation for "jote," either.

Anonymous said...

fome= lame o no?

Leigh said...

Yeah, I guess "lame" would be the best approximation.

Eileen said...

we said achachay in Cuenca, too! my host sister's ñaño (older brother) used to say it all the time! I was only there for a couple of months, but achachay really stuck!

thanks for the link love, and back atcha in a minute...

Leigh said...

Eileen, I lived in Ecuador for over a year and never made it to Cuenca, which I regret. I've heard it's beautiful. Plus, I'm all about historic buildings and churches and stuff. I hope to see it someday!

Eileen said...

Leigh, and I need to go back with my current state of a) spanish and b) camera. It's on one of my many lists. That and eating some llapingachos!

Leigh said...

Mmm, llapingachos...I met a Peruvian guy who was selling chochos at La Vega the other day and got way too excited.