Inhabitants of the port city Buenos Aires are called porteños. In order to speed up the process of learning the porteño way of speaking spanish, there are some words you smoothly can add to your daily dictionary to sound more like a native. That is to say, you need to learn a bit of Italian, get the grasp of reshuffled secret words and sum some body language (picture the vibrating, irritated Italian fist). The exquisite porteño spanish, which I truly try to adopt, is characterized by its Italian system of sounds and the Lunfardo slang, consisting of Italian words introduced by the Italian immigrants settling in Argentina between 1880 and 1920. Most of these immigrants came from the Lombardy region northwest, well-known for the city of Milan, and as a result the name Lunfardo appeared. Today up to 60 % of Argentinas population has Italian roots and surnames. In fact, “Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish who think they are British”, according to one of 33 heads of State that had to wait for a terribly late president Carlos Menem of Argentina for a official photo session in Chile in the 90ts. The dialect of Lunfardo is originally an argot, a secret language spoken by criminals who apparently did not want the guards to understand them in prison. The reversing of the syllabus in words and thereafter saying them backwards was also commune among the lower class of immigrants in Buenos Aires. Later, the slang gained popularity after appearing in the lyrics of tango. For instance, when porteños nowadays are discussing the best pizza (zapi in vesre/revés), ravioli or ice-cream spot in town, they could use words like birra, garpar, vos (in place of tú – you), mango, morfar or chau (not the Spanish word ciao). Furthermore, this slang might have caused the assortment of words for police, consisting of el vigilante, un botón, la cana, rati, poli and yuta. Words for party range from partusa, festichola, milonga, parranda, joda, bailongo, juerga, pachanga to asalto (surprise party).
I was amused discovering these following porteño words, of Lunfardo slang and of Spanish and indigenous origin, not to mention the eight different frequently used significances of the re contra versatile word for fart – pedo. It turns out that porteños are very enchanted by farts in general and that fart colloquially means some sort of problem. I have explained all words and also given an example, hopefully it will help you on your way to speaking as a porteño as well. Lastly, for a slightly more advanced Lunfardo, try to understand the song Milonga Lunfarda of tango singer Edmundo Rivero, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CMP7J-6QTY (Entiendo algo de pedo, pero ni en pedo que entiendo todo del año del pedo).
(MORE PHOTOS BELOW)
Arbolito – a person that changes your dollars to Argentinian pesos at the street.
En el calle Florida vas a encontrar un monton de arbolitos que disimuladamente te cambian tus dolares.
Atorrante – a lazy person that does not want to work.
- Sos flor de atorrante!
Bárbaro – thought bárbaro is used like barbaric in other Spanish speaking countries, it means “super nice” in Argentina.
– Nos encontrámos ahí a las seis?
Birra – purely Italian meaning beer.
- Me traes una birra, por favor?
Bondi – the city bus, used like the Spanish word “colectivo”.
- Tomá el bondi numero 100 que te lleva a mi casa.
Boliche – used originally for small bars, but nowadays the word for nightclubs, which do not open until 2 A.M.
- Les recomiendo ir al Boliche de Roberto y pasar una noche eschuchando tango en vivo.
Buena onda – cool or good.
- La profesora es buena onda.
Boluda/o – a nice or cunning way of calling your friend, but can also be used as asshole or to name an unpleasant person.
No seas boludo, no me vuelvas a gritar.
Boluda, deja tu celular, que estamos comiendo.
Che – a form of name a person you are talking to, either used like “friend” or “mate or like “hey”. Made famous after Argentinian Ernesto “Che” Guevara, popularly called Che. The Argentinan indigenous tribes Tehuelche, Pehelche and Mapuche (all ending with che) use che meaning “man” or “people”.
- Che, me pasas un mate?
Churro – this is a fried pastry usually with dulce de leche inside (Hapå pålegg), but is used to say that someone is good looking.
El hombre con el sombrero es un churro total.
Curtir – to get experience, also in the hard way.
- Si no la entendiste, curtite!
Cómo andamio? – meaning how are you, with andamio literally meaning ladder. The following answer is a word game for “todo bien, y vos”
- – Cómo andamio?
– Todo viento, y Bosta?
Chabón – dude.
- No me rompás más los huevos, chabón.
Engrupir – to fool someone, maybe deriving from the Italian ingroppare meaning “to fuck”.
- El chabón la engrupió como quinceañera.
Fiaca – A lazy person or laziness, coming from the Italian “fiacca – laziness”.
Que fiaca que sos!
Que fiaca que tengo.
Feca – café, vesre.
Me fui con la nami a tomar un feca.
Garca – the vesre of the verb cagar meaning “to shit on” or “not give a damn”.
- El garca se quedo con toda la plata.
Garpar – to pay, coming from the word play vesre of spanish pagar.
La mujer me dejo garpando en el feca.
Gaucho – the cowboys of Argentina coming from “cauchu” meaning vagabond in Mapuche (indigenous group)
- El gaucho típico anda a caballo.
Groso – a word to describe a truly great person.
Vos tocás la batería muy bien, sos un groso.
Junar – to know someone, originated from the caló language spoken by the Spanish and Portuguese Romani and their word “junar” which means to hear.
No te juno, pirá de acá.
Joya – excellent, perfect.
- – Vamos al cine?
Laburar – to work, coming from the Italian word “lavorare” meaning “to work” and is frequently used like the spanish word “trabajar”.
- Voy a tirar una onda y laburar con los pibes un rato.
La posta – the only truth.
- Me tiras la posta, chábon.
Luca – 1000 mangos or pesos.
- El auto cuesta cien lucas.
Mango – money, coming from when one mango used to cost one peso.
Le cuesta 100 mangos.
Maza – superb, from mace or sledgehammer.
- Tu dibujo es una maza.
Mina – girl, an informal word for woman coming from the Italian word “femmina”.
- La mina es un bombon.
Motochorro – a thief on a motorcycle
Ojo, hay motochorros en esa zona!
Morfar – to eat, from the French word morfor meaning “to eat”.
- Me preparás un asado para morfar.
Ñoqui – a person employed as a worker by the government, but doesn’t need to do any work for the wage. The monthly paychecks are given at the 29th day of every month and traditionally celebrated with eating gnocchis. The term comes from the epidemic of ghost employment of the 1970s.
- Es 29. apareció el ñoqui.
O sea – like or “I mean”, can also me overused like in the english version.
- Me encantaría ir a la feria, o sea que, tipo, tendrías que dejar la computadora.
Pibe – child or young man coming from the Italian words “pivellp” or “pivetto” meaning “child”.
Los pibes se fueron a la playa.
Pelotudo – a fool, coming from pelotas, balls (someone with big balls). It has harsher implications then “boludo”.
El politico corrupto es un pelotudo de mierda, o sea, no me gustan los politicos.
Quilombo – A total mess or a disaster. The word originated from a gathering place from slaves in Brazil, then adapted in Argentina meaning “brothel”.
Los pibes hicieron una partuza en el depto y dejaron un quilombo.
Re and recontra – prefix meaning very or extremely.
Me recontra gustó las flores que me tragiste, son re-lindas.
Salute a tutti – Greetings to everyone, from Italian “salute” – cheers.
- Vas al campo con tus amigos? Salute a tutti!
Tano – A person from Italiy, a short for Italiano and often used as a nickname on a person with Italian roots (it is also totally ok to call your chunky friend gorda – fatty, your Chinese friend for Chino and your Argentinean friend with dark hair for negro).
Vamos a buscar al tano y sigumos de juerga.
Telo – vesre for hotel, but a type of hotel only used for bed activities.
- Hoy pasamos un telo en camino al parque y entramos de una.
Trucho – fake, from old Spanish slang truchamán that originated from the Arabic “turheman” meaning translator, a person tricking foreigners into tourist traps (or from the Italian trucco meaning made fake on purpose).
Me vendieron un celular trucho.
Tordo – vesre for doctor.
- Me sentía tan enfermo que tuve que ir a visitar el tordo.
Yeta – bad luck, from Italian iettatore.
- Que yeta tuve anoche con la nami! (word play for mina – girl)
Zafar – when something almost happened or to get out of a place.
Zafe que el auto me hiciéria mierda.
Zafá de aca! (get out of here)
A los pedos – to go very fast.
- Ando mi bicilecta a los pedos cada día.
Al pedo – to do nothing.
- Estar en Facebook durante cuatro horas es estar al pedo.
En pedo – to be very drunk
Ella su puso en pedo anoche.
Cagar a pedos – to tell someone off or to find fault with
- El otro día me mande una cagada, y me cagaron a pedos.
De pedo – Something done by luck, by coincidence.
- Casi no quedaba yerba, nos tomamos un mate de pedo.
Del año del pedo – super old
- Me compré una máquina de fotos del año del pedo.
Ni en pedo – meaning “no way”. You would not even do it if your were drunk – “en pedo”.
- Ni en pedo que me voy a comer choripan solamente, mientras que esté en Baires.
Pedorro – something bad of poor quality.
- Llagamos a los pedos y había una comida pedorra, ni en pedo la como.