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Chilean Spanish

Chilean Spanish, the Chilean dialect or Chilean castellano has three major influences: the indigenous languages (the Mapuche language [“guata”, “pucho”, “yeco”] and the Quechua of the south [“choclo”, “guanaco”, “guagua”]), “rioplatense” Spanish and that of the European immigrants of the mid-1800s. The main differences between the Spanish spoken in Chile and other Latin American dialects basically lie in the pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary. It is recognized for having a variety of sounds for each situation and for the conjugation of the second person singular (tú). There are differences depending on social class and geography.


Syntax and grammar

  • Common use of the double direct object. “La fui a verla”.
  • Absence of“dequeísmo” (use of “de que”). Generally “queismo” (use of “que”) is used in every case: “Estaba segura que me lo dejé olvidado”.
  • Third person possessive. “Nuestro” (“our”) always becomes “de nosotros” (“of us”): “Ese de ahí es el auto de nosotros”.
  • Useof the imperative mode with the verb“ir” (“to go”). The verb “ir” is conjugated differently: “Ándate y cómprame eso”.
  • Proper names preceded by articles. For example, “Juan y María” (“Juan and Maria”) becomes “el Juan y la María” (“the Juan and the Maria”).

Treatment: pronouns vary according to contextual situations

  • Usted: in the oral environment, shows distance and respect. Also used in the written environment (business documents).
  • Tú: “tuteo” (the use of “tu”) is the most common form of address.
  • Vos: the use of “vos” differsfrom that of other countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia: here, the use of the pronoun “vos” can show contempt; the spoken situation, in this case, is extremely colloquial.

Vocabulary: some examples.

  • al tiro: right now
  • andar pato: to be broke
  • ¿cachai?: ¿do you understand?
  • chutear: to shoot (football)
  • denante: a while ago
  • guagua: baby, small child
  • loca: young woman
  • pololo: boyfriend
  • trome: metro (transport)
  • machorra: not very feminine
  • nanay: to caress with the aim of relieving pain
  • pololo: boyfriend
  • ¿qui wa?: what’s up?
  • trome: subway (transportation)

The verb “ser”

In Chile, the verb “ser” can be used in different forms:

  • Vos soi
  • Vos erí(s)
  • Tú soi
  • Tu erí(s)
  • Tú eres
  • Usted es

With this type of colorful Spanish we have to familiarize ourselves with the uses, customs, spoken contexts, broad lexical variations and the differences in syntax and grammar. The key to successfully translating to or from Chilean Spanish is … location, location, location.