Monday, October 13, 2008

How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle

I have been in Chile for almost two months now (its hard to believe) and I´ve made several oberservations about the language, lifestyle, and food. Ill start with my dictionary, "How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle", by John Brennan- an encyclodepia of Chilean slang complete with photo demonstrations and diagrams. This book translates all the R-rated english curse words, but more entertainingly it defines the "Chileanismos" or the slang terms that are only understood here in Chile. A few of my favorites include "perro muertro", which translates to the act of dinning and dashing and "A lo gringo", which means you´ve forgotten to put on underpants. Why Chileans would relate the Gringos with forgotten underpants is beyond me. This brings me to the word "Weon" (pronounced WAY-OWN), which Brennan describes as, "Chile´s prized addition to the Spanish language". When you call someone a "weon", youre calling them an idiot, but its used more like the words "dude" or "man". I couldn´t even count how many times its used in simple conversation, but literally every sentance begins and ends with "weon" and for girls "weona". And of course its used in various contexts, for example, you can descirbe something as being "weonismo"or say "estoy weando" (im just kidding). I have been told by my host parents, friends, and even teachers that Chileans speak a very poor version of the Castillian language. For example, they conjugate some verbs in "tu" form differently. Instead of "hablas"or"estas" its "hablai" and "estai". Moreover, everyone finishes words and phrases with "po", which is short for "pues". For example,"sipo", "yapo", "no sépo". I find myself saying "po" a lot and everyone thinks its hilarious to hear the gringo use the Chilean version of Spanish. We heard a presentation in school the other day and the girl next to me pinpointed the speaker as a Venezuelan just by the way he spoke. I started paying attention to these variations after we watched documentary aboot the linguistic differences between Canada and the US (I was the only one laughing).

The food is delicious and im finding dishes that I love, but im also missing things that were otherwise my staple back home. Ill start with the Completo. At first I thought this was disgusting, but now I am an absolute fan. The completo is baiscally a hotdog, yet its bun has slightly higher sidewalls to carry all its condiments. The basic ingredients include: diced tomatoes, a thick layer of guacamole, lots of mayonnaise, and too much ketchup, but you usually have the option of adding onions and mustard. It takes two or three bites of pure condiments before you get to the hotdog and they come in various sizes depending on your appetite. On another note, Chileans don´t like peanut butter-they sell it in stores, but very few people eat it. I try to convince my hostmother that its not used like regular butter, but she keeps on putting it on the table in case I want to add it to dinner. My father is warming to the PB&J and he likes the idea of "ants on a log", however, my hostmother refuses to eat it. Although I am surviving, Chileans dont sell pretzels - I cant think of a day thats gone by where I havent eaten pretzels (with hummus). But the empanadas I absolutely love- theres a place called Los Molinos (the windmills) down the road from school where we´ll eat lunch every once and a while. I usually come home for lunch becuase the Nana cooks. The only downside to this is we will eat the same dish for dinner and so, more often than not, I find myself eating lentils for lunch, dinner, and then leftover lentil soup the following day. Nevertheless, I have gained weight, and so maybe the freshman 15 doesnt apply only to first year college students...

13 comments:

Jo said...

Hi!!
I'm a chilean assistant in England and couldn´t stop loughing of the thing that you said. It's so true, we speak a very different version of spanish!!! it's poor but we can change the way that we talk!! I hope that you can enjoy my country. I'm sure tyat you already notice that we are very special in every possible way!!!
If it is ok with you, I'm gonna use your colum as an example with my students, they do not know much about latin american culture...

Maria Jose

Jared said...

Hi! I found this book online on ebay, Facebook, Amazon, and www.ChileanDichos.com. A must for CHile!

Drew said...

Hi!
My name is Dewey, I'm from Texas and leave tomorrow to Curicó for a year through Rotary. I googled the book "How to Survive the Chilean Jungle" and this was the first hit. I like reading about your trip, I hope it can help with mine. My own blog will be up soon, its www.dmarshall.net. Thanks for the blog!

Juan Pablo said...

Jejeje disculpa, por escribir en español, me encontré con este blog y quice dejar un comentario, ya que vivo en la ciudad de Los Ángeles, me reí bastante "weon" :D.

Probe la mantequilla de mani y unque me gusta el maní, no aguanté seguir comiendo y no es que tenga mal sabor, cuando lo hiba probando sentía que me "llenaba", demasiado relajante para mi gusto.

Tengo entendido que los chilenos "cortamos" las palabras porque los colonos españoles que se asentaron en esta región hablaban así, parece que eran de Andalucía.

Saludos

Allie said...

Hey I'm chilean, it was kinnda funny, we do use "weon" a lot..

Carlos said...

Sup bro, i'm chilean and I must say that a lot of the things you said are purely truth, BUT, we don't really use weon at the very begginning of the sentences, but on the very end we do, "wena po weon", "la cago po wn", etc.
About the completo, there are many variations (from the basic bun and sausage) like the "Italiano": Tomato, Avocado & Mayo (we call it italiano because of the colours it has from the italian flag); or the "Con todo": Tomato, Sourkraut, Avocado, Mayo. Also in any of the regular completo builds its mandatory to add ketchup or mustard, but optional.
Uhmm, we do sell pretzels on supermarkets (but they are hard and small) If you're talking bout the big fresh things we have those too, but at some shopping malls only. Btw, you miss-spelled "perro muerto"

Regards from Talca, Chile
Carlos

Unknown said...

Hola soy un weon de chile, y este blog es bien weon porque no creo q a ningún aweonao de otro país le interese las weas que hablamos los weones de mi país, pero igual como weon me lei toda la wea.

Samantha Julius said...

I just want to say that your blog is amazing. I obviously have no idea how to write blogs because mine is nothing like this.. I've been in Chile for a little over 2 weeks now.. And it's crazy here. Everything is so different. But I love it.

Rodrigo Gonzalez said...

Oye huevón. ¡Que huevón más huevón este huevón, huevón.... Nothing more to say. We eat all the "S's" ending a word with s at the end. That is a big reason why we dont speak english, because We are ashamed to pronounce it. Same thing with the TH up sounding like zeta.

If you want to know how prononuce the R in spanish practice with the word BETTER makeing the "TTE" (as american not british of course) with your tongue against the palate and then practice with the "TTA", "TTE", "TTI" , "TTO", "TTU"

Trishbel said...

We are some badass weones! I truly believed we've made our own version of the language and it seems like we've done some awful but funny stuff to it. Even among latins, our Chilean Spanish is super weird. I think it's worth studying. I teach English and it seems like it'd be really crazy to try teaching Chilean Spanish.

Great blog!!

Claudia Paris said...

Jajjajaaja que "eris wueon". Aunque creo que no todos pueden "cachar" la "wuea" que escribiste. Pero fue graciosa...

Gato said...

Que tal, soy chileno. Las expresiones como "weón" y derivados de éste son en sí mismos "garabatos" o "groserías". Es una forma muy informal para hablar. Por ejemplo, yo no uso ninguno de esos términos, puesto que suenan grotescos y ofensivos. Para el común de la gente, son prácticamente insignificantes. Saludos.

Grace said...

I'm on a Rotary exchange in Chile now and I was cracking up reading about your experiences - I've had some of the same ones! Great blog!