Uruguayan character: typical expressions which define a country

Uruguayan character: typical expressions which define a country

As any other social group, Uruguay has taken some words of their own language to transform them into new ones, creating a particular language which differs from that Spanish once spoken in the Río de la Plata region. In this post called “Uruguayan character: expressions which define a country” we will describe some features of this language.

The Uruguayan slang was studied by a group of linguists of the National Academy of Letters, who embark themselves in the difficult job of recreating the language as pure as possible. The result, after 20 years of investigation was the Spanish Dictionary of Uruguay (“Diccionario Español del Uruguay”), published in 2011. The book recalls over ten thousand expressions which walk through the labyrinths of the Oriental soul.

Some well known Celeste´s expressions:

Botija or gurí: child, teen. El botija que guía el paseo en bicicleta es muy simpático. Pasamos una tarde fantástica con los gurices pedaleando entre los olivares (The kid that leads the bike ride is very nice. We had a great afternoon with the young ones riding through the Olive Groves).

Championes: sports footwear. Hoy es el gran día, con los botijas, vamos a jugar el partido definitorio, sin dudas voy a estrenar esos championes que reservé para el  acontecimiento (Today is the big day with the kids, we will play the defining match, no doubt I will use for the first time that snickers I saved for the occasion).

Pila: A lot. ¡El globo se elevó pila! Con los gurices disfrutamos las vistas de los olivares a más de 300 metros de altura; es un recuerdo imborrable. Ese día para nuestra comodidad andábamos todos de championes (The balloon elevated a lot! The kids and I enjoyed the view of the Olive Groves from more than 300 meters up, it is an unforgettable memory. Luckily, that day we were all comfortable in our snickers).

Vichar: Snoop. El otro día, con los championes nuevos, caminé pila hasta el supermercado. Allí, al botija de la caja le advertí que no estaba mirando el exibidor con los alfajores, ni lo estaba observando: estaba vichando, nomás (The other day, I walked a lot towards the supermarket in my new snickers. Then, when I got to the register I warned the kid that I was not looking at the cookies in the shelf nor I was staring at him, I was just snooping around).

Vo/Bo: A very Uruguayan expression. It is a clear sign of identity, comparable to the use of the word “che” in the Argentine slang. There is an installed debate over if it should be written with b as a contraction of botija (kid) or if it should be written with v as a derivation of the pronoun vos (you). ¡Qué ganas de hacer ejercicio que tengo, bo! Hace pila que no jugamos a la pelota. Vo, ¿me pasas los championes?… pará que vicho en la agenda a cuál de los gurices podemos llamar para armar el partido (Hey, I´m eager to exercise! We haven´t played any sports for a lot of time. Hey yo, can you hand me the snickers?  Let’s snoop to see which of the kids we can call for the match).

Common phrases of the standard Uruguayan:

Bo, a ver si nos vemos algún día (Hey, let’s meet one of these days): It is used when two friends or acquaintances which have not seen each other in a while meet. The truth is, that in a certain way, it is understood that if it isn´t by chance they won´t ever meet again.

Dale, vemos: (Ok, we´ll see): This is the conventional Uruguayan way of letting clear that they are not interested in taking part of the proposal, whichever it is. It is a demonstration of lack of interest; the proposal will probably not success.

Es bien de bien (To worth their weight in gold): It is generally used to recommend someone, enhancing their positive qualities. As an alternative, it is common to use in the same sense “he/she is straight as an arrow”.

¿En qué andás? Acá, en la vuelta (What are you up to? Not much, just around): It is simply the typical greeting between two acquaintances that meet. Another option is, “Is everything ok? Yea, ok, and you? I´m fine, what´s up? Not much, everything is ok, and you? I´m well too”.

Pah, ni idea (Pss, not a clue): Pss is a clasic, it is the way in which someone exaggeratedly informs that they don´t have certain information. It is the answer we may obtain when we are simply trying to find a zip code in Montevideo.


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