Someone, suggested that I create a Spanish/Spanglish glossary for my readers, especially as I’m putting in order my writing and organizing my dad’s stories. I consulted with my editor and tech team, also known as my daughter Daniella about this and we agreed that it made sense. Although I write as if everyone will understand me, the suggestion reminded me that not everyone speaks or reads spanish or spanglish. Some posts will have more spanish words or popular phrases woven in. Some of those words will probably be recognized only by people from my SoCal region, aka my homies.
I have to make a disclaimer, see if you can follow. I think in English, but will easily and comfortably slip into a volley of English to Spanish and back to English depending on who I’m talking with. However, In serious Spanish conversations, like when I cannot resort to English because I’ll confuse the “only in Spanish” speaker, a fuerzas I must slow down. My english thinking mind must translate and put the words in correct order before they’re launched.
My Mexican-American Voice
My dilemma is that I like to write in my “take it easy” Mexican American tone. Therefore I skip the accents in the proper places and I use the tweaked spanglish words, like carro for car instead of the more proper automobil. I learned to read and write on my own, self taught, hay si muy muy. I thought that was a pretty good accomplishment. By the time I had to earn my credits for a foreign language in high school, I chose spanish because you see, I already ready knew it all. Then a few decades later, after we raised our kids, I enrolled into an advanced Spanish course. Hijole! That’s where I faced the tilde (accent) head on! A nightmare, trapped in a textbook of tilde lessons, the cannonball tildes fired at me in class, and out! My Spanglish self went to hide away. I’m still quite afraid of the tilde, especially when I consider that I will have to face her again. I mean a tilde can change the meaning of a word aside from the pronunciation of it. I would ask the serious Spanish speakers and readers, tengan misericordia on me.
A Brief Phonics Lesson
Don’t worry, we won’t get into the particulars of the tilde and conjugating verbs.
A, E, I, O, and U sound like: ah, eh, ee, oh, oo (there are no long and short variations like in english, the E makes a short e sound and the I makes the long ee sound.)
H is always silent.
2 ll’s together sound like this “Ye” with a short ‘e’ sound.
The ñ sounds like “enye” with a short ‘e’ sound.
“Y” sounds like “ee”.
Estoy segura, that there are more rules I’m missing. With all that said and in consideration of the non-speaking Spanglish person, I hope this limited glossary will enlighten you a bit. Here’s an introductory list of some words you might see in my posts. It’ll most likely grow as I continue to loosen my tongue.
Mexican American Girl’s Official Spanglish Dictionary:
Abuela/o-grandmother/father- It might be the official title, but my grandkids call me Ama
Ahora mismo-Right now or This very moment
Al Ratito– In a little while
Al Menos– At least
Amonos– lets go
Andale– come on
Andale! – On target, or Bulls Eye
Asi es– That’s right
Asi nomas– just like that
Bien– fine or very
Bien bonito/a– very pretty
Buena onda– good vibe
Bueno– hello (when answering the telephone)
Buenos dias– Good morning
Buenas tardes– good afternoon
Cabezon-Big head, or stubborn
Callate la boca– Shut your mouth
calladito/a– still and silent
Caldito– a little soup
Caldo de res– Beef soup
Caldo de pollo– Chicken soup
Calmate– calm down
Carne Asada– beef for grilling
Carne para asar– meat for grilling
carnal/a– brother or sister. Also used to greet a friend
Casi nada– almost nothing
Chancla– sandal or flip-flop
Chapparro– short in stature
Chicali– Nickname for Mexicali, a city in Baja California MEX- (We went to Mexicali almost every weekend, amongst us kids cutting one out a syllable was way cool)
Chino/a– person with curly hair
Como dice el dicho– as the saying goes
Como dicen por hay– I’ve heard it said
Corajudo/a– quick tempered person
Culeca/o very proud
De Repente– all of a sudden
Dios te bendiga– God bless you
Don– used respectfully for an older man. Don Manuel Zepeda (long o sound)
Doña- Casual, but respectfully used for women, married or older. My ama was Doña Chuy.
Echale ganas– Give it all you got.
El Pasado– The Past
Enchilado-red hot angry
Entrale!– Go for it!
Esperate– hold on or wait
Estoy– I am
Feliz Cumpleanos– Happy Birthday
Fijate– look or notice
fijense-look or notice
Flaco/a– a thin/skinny person
Frijoles refritos-refried beans
Gracias a Dios– Thank God
Gringo-A white American of European decent
Guacamole– avocado dip.
Guerro/a-light skin tone person.
Hace mucho tiempo– A long time ago
Hermana/o sister or brother
Hermanos-siblings or brothers
Hijole!– Yikes! Or Man!
ito/a– ending a noun with ito/a will make it a little person, place or thing.
Jale- job or work
Jefe-boss, also used to speak about your father
Kernitos- This was gibberish that my sister Patty and I created to address a sweet baby.
Mal agradecido– ungrateful
Mechudo/a-messy long hair
Mira nomas! – Would you look at that!
Mina-Mine as in Mining
Mochate– kick back or share what you have.
Mocosa– snotty kid
Mosca muerta– Someone pretending to be innocent and shy
Mucho– much or a lot
Muy muy– very very. Usually we use this when someone is trying to be extraordinary. Mostly showing off. For example, someone drives by in a beautiful fancy car, someone else will perceive it as being a show off, so they’ll say “que muy muy”
No manches– don’t mess with me or You’ve gotta be kidding!
Novela- soap opera
Orita– could mean right now or in a minute. I would tell my Apa “Orita vengo” meaning I’ll be back in a minute. But he would say “Orita te vas” meaning you’re leaving right now.
Paisa– someone from your country or region
Panson- big belly
Papitas– Potato chips
Pero como? How in the world?
Plebe– a kid
Pobrecito– Poor thing
Poquito– a little bit
Prieto– dark skin
Que onda?– What’s up
Quinceañera– 15 year old, also a big celebration for a 15 year old girl
Reconozco– I recognize or realize
Rollo– issue or story- Everybody has a rollo to unload
Sacate de aqui– get out of here
Seriamente– very seriously
Sinverguenza– without shame
Suegra– Mother in law
Suegro– Father in law
Tercer Edad– elderly
Tia/o– aunt or uncle
Tilde- accent mark
Transa-hustled or hustler
Troque o Troke– truck
Tu-You when addressing a peer
Ubicate– get your bearings, get situated
Usted- When addressing a stranger or older person
Viaje– a trip
Ya se– I know
As I wrote this post, I felt like I was in class again, I’m shaking off that tilde for now. This will be a growing list, if you have a Spanglish word or dicho to suggest, share it, porfa, we can add to the list and help our non splanglish readers!