If there’s anything I have learned while studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, it is that “street Spanish” can be very different from what is taught in universities. For example, your Spanish professors in the U.S. aren’t going to teach you cuss words or colloquial phrases in the classroom, but knowing these words is very important if you are studying abroad. You don’t want to accidentally offend someone, and also it is important to be aware of the differences in connotation that some words have in other parts of the world. The colloquial phrases that I have learned here are my favorite, and most useful, things to use when speaking with my new friends. Here, I will include my top 4 favorite and most useful phrases:
- Para todo mal, Mezcal. Para todo bien, también.
Literal translation: For everything good, Mezcal. For everything bad, also.
- This is hands-down my favorite phrase that I have learned here. This phrase is super popular here in Oaxaca because this is the birthplace of Mezcal tequila. It is jokingly said that Mezcal is the solution to any problem you could possibly have, whether it be sickness or heartache. At the same time, it is the thing that you use to celebrate the joys of life. Essentially, this phrase says that Mezcal will be by your side through the good and the bad.
- Tranquila, Viejo!
Literal translation: Calm down, old man!
- This phrase essentially means “chill out!”. You can say it when your friend is acting crazy or getting out of hand in a joking manner. Don’t actually say this to an old person, though, because the term “Viejo” has sort of an offensive connotation here- similar to how calling someone old in the U.S. can be taken offensively.
Literal translation: white girl
- This word has a simple translation, but it is definitely something that I needed to know coming here. Guera isn’t an offensive term whatsoever, but it is important to know if someone is trying to catch your attention, or talking about you to someone else.
- Fondo, fondo!
Literal translation: chug, chug!
- This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it is definitely something you need to know if you plan on going out with friends. If you are out drinking with friends and someone starts this chant, you are “obligated” to finish your drink.
I have only been here for 3 weeks and already have a list of 90 new words and phrases I’ve learned! I am excited to keep learning about the colloquial terms of Oaxaca!