¿Hasta cuaaaando ya?: A lesson in Chilean slang

When I arrived in Chile three months ago, people’s stories were a lot wilder than they are now. One day at lunch, for example, I learned there’s a two-week period every August where Venezuelans take to the street and eat banana Jello, and I considered making a trip. As I've grown more accustomed to the language, the stories have calmed down a bit and have started to make more sense. But to understand them completely, it helps to recognize the slang that peppers most every Chilean sentence.

Here’s a quick guide to the Chilean slang I’ve picked up on so far: Al tiro — Immediately Bacán — Cool! ¿Cachai? — Get it? Carrete — Party Fome — Boring Guagua — Baby Guata — Belly Huevón(a) — Buddy, Dude, Man, Jerk or Asshole, depending on the context. Often added to the end of a sentence to indicate familiarity. La onda — Attitude, mood, character of person. As in “Ella es buena onda” or “She’s got a good vibe.” La pega — Work, Job Pololo(a) — Boyfriend/Girlfriend Po — Well Short for “pues.” Added onto the end of many sentences and phrases. As in “Sí po” or “No po.” Ponte las pilas — Go for it! Try harder! Literally “Put your batteries in.” La raja — Excellent, Cool, The shit El tuto — Sleepiness (in a cute sense) As in “Tengo tuto” or “I’m sleepy,” and “Voy a hacer tuto” or “I’m going to take a nap.” Wea — That shit As in “Esa wea no funciona” or “That shit doesn’t work,” and “Esa wea está mala” or “That shit is bad.”

A separate slang culture, mainly driven by the baqueanos (Chilean cowboys), has developed within the park. Here a few phrases you need to get around here: Meh — A sound used to express surprise or disbelief Vamos, VAAAAH-mos — Let’s go, leeeeet’s go. Shouted as loud as possible, often by a baqueano, a guide or me, when prodded ¿Hasta cuaaaando, yaaaa? — When’s it gonna stop? Literally, “Until when, already?” Uttered with a nasally voice in fake annoyance

There you have it. Consider yourself Chilean.