Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Qué pichudo mae

Today we're going to look at a thank you note for a wedding gift I gave to my tico friend that just recently got married.  By the way, if you're wondering what the word tico means, it's an apodo (nick name) for the people of Costa Rica, or costarricenses.  And tica would be used for a woman.

He knows how much I love learning colloquial Spanish so he wrote the thank you note in pure Costa Rican slang.  Needless to say translating it kept me busy for several hours and I enjoyed every minute of it.   This little note certainly put my Spanish skills to the test.

I thought you all would enjoy the Spanish I learned, especially since I've already done all the hard work.

We're going to take a close look at this card, so here it is.

I'm not sure what was harder, deciphering his handwriting or the slang.  But with that said, let's examine this note line by line.

Qué pichudo mae

Let's start with the easy stuff, the word mae

Mae is the de facto Costa Rican word for dude, and you'll hear it constantly walking up and down the streets of San Jose and most likely all of Costa Rica.  Guys use it, girls use it, it's everywhere.  You can also use it to refer to a person in general.

Ese mae no me cae bien
I don't like that guy

Mae, ¿Dónde estás?
Dude, where are you?

Now, as always exercise some caution because you may just run across the one person who doesn't like the word or is offended by it.  Or takes offense at you (a.k.a a gringo) using it, but the word itself is perfectly safe.  Just remember it carries this meaning in Costa Rica.  In another country it may not exist at all or possibly be offensive.  Know your audience.

Next we get to pichudo.  Pichudo is another very Costa Rican word meaning genial or buenísimo in standard Spanish.   In English it would be something along the great, cool or awesome.

So our translation would be something along the lines of:

Qué pichudo mae
How awesome dude

Translating slang isn't an exact science, but this conveys the idea.

The next line is a bit trickier and I actually needed help with this one.

Mae, demasiados tenquius por esa harina

If you're looking at the word tenquius and can't figure out what it means or how to pronounce it, don't feel bad, you're not alone.  I searched the internet far and wide for the meaning of that one to no avail.  It turns it out it means "thank you's", but it sounds like "tank youz".  Go figure.

The next word, harina, is a lot easier.  The dictionary meaning is flour, but in Costa Rican Spanish it's money.  In fact, the currency of Costa Rica is called colones, but I'll write more about that in another post.

The literal translation "Too many thank you's" just doesn't sound right to my English ears, so I'm going with the below instead.

Mae, demasiados tenquius por esa harina
Dude, thanks so much for the money

Moving on the next line, this is something else I would never have figured out with my friends help.

Esta en tuas!

This actually has a bit of history to go with it and you will totally impress your Costa Rican friends with your knowledge of this one.  Or at least the one's old enough to remember this.

The first thing you need to know is that this phrase, when written in proper Spanish, is actually

Está en todas

And unlike the vast majority of the Spanish phrases I learn, I was actually able to learn the origin of this one.  Or least how it become popular.

These may look familiar to you.

Yep, they look like M&M's don't they?

Our phrase, estás en todas, became a popular saying as a result of an 80's commercial.   Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we get to watch this too.

If you don't see the video below, here's the direct link:


¡Con teens estás en todas!

Now, this is the hard part, translating our expression.   I'm thinking it's somewhere along the lines of you're awesome or really cool.

Moving right along we get to the next line.

Fue un placer contar con teus en esa tafies tan memorable

Keeping with our tradition of tackling the easy words first, tafies is a fiesta, or party in English.

Teus is a bit trickier.  My amigo tico told me that this simply means usted in pachuco.  Great, now we have to figure what pachuco is.

Pachuco is a very informal and slangy form of Costa Rican Spanish, which according to Google has it's roots in Mexican Spanish used in the days of zoot suits.   I can't really tell you much about it but a Google search will give you enough info to keep you busy if you're really interested.

And if you don't know, everyone in Costa Rica speaks with usted.  It's just what they do.

Fue un placer contar con teus en esa tafies tan memorable
It was a pleasure to have your support in this memorable occasion

As I mentioned earlier, tafies means party, but for translation purposes occasion or celebration seems to fit better.

Me comprare una chema y la guila unas chanclas

Chema is Costa Rican slang for a shirt.  And just so you know, they use the word cachos for shoes.  I mentioned that in some of my earlier posts about Costan Rican Spanish.

Next we get another very, very common word in Costa Rican slang.  Guila.

Here's a well written definition in Spanish I found.

Guila should actually be written as güila, and it can be used to refer to a guy or a girl in general, or your girlfriend or boyfriend.  It's always written as güila, so to specify the gender you  say el güila or la güila.  In informal writing it's nearly always seen written with a regular u and not ü (with the diaeresis).

Mae, esa güila es muy bonita
Dude, that girl is really pretty

¿Como está su guila?
How's your girlfriend?

Es un queque, right?  That's tico for "it's easy, right?"

Moving on.

Chanclas, are flip flops or sandalias (sandals).  Generally speaking, chanclas and sandalias are synonyms, with the exception that chanclas also refers to flip flips, while typically sandalias does not.

The word chancla generally refers to any flat sandal, but that's not a strict rule.  Various styles of sandals can be referred to as chanclas.

Me comprare una chema y la guila unas chanclas
I'm going to buy myself a shirt and my girlfriend some sandals

And we're finally getting to the end.

Espero que se le haga un nudo en la jupa desentrañando mi mensaje escrito en lenguaje de tiquicia.

Jupa means cabeza, or head.  And Tiquicia is nothing more than an affectionate reference to the country of Costa Rica itself.

Espero que se le haga un nudo en la jupa desentrañando mi mensaje escrito en lenguaje de tiquicia.
I hope you tie a knot in your head trying to figure out my message written in the language of Costa Rica.

And there you have it.  Go forth and impress your tico (Costa Rican) friends with this new bit of Spanish you've learned today.

If you want or need to learn more Costa Rican slang, I found these lessons on Costa Rican Spanish to be of great help.  They do a great job of zeroing in on the most common terms.  You can also find several books on Costa Rican slang at Amazon.

Of course the best thing to do to learn some Costa Rican slang is to make friends with some ticos or hop on a plane to Tiquicia, but if you can't do either one of those then the options I gave you above aren't bad either.

¡Hasta la próxima!