Welcome, aspiring Chilean-speakers. This week we’ll take a look at how Chileans make it easier on gringos by adopting some of our terms.
Apart from the many academic or business-related terms that Chileans adopt from English, such as feedback or management, there are numerous everyday English words mottled throughout Chilean’s lingo.
Top or topísimo: Chileans have adopted top as an adjective similar to excellent, as in “You’re the top; you’re the Louvre Museum…” What’s more entertaining to me is the occasional addition of the superlative ísimo—to show just how excellent they mean. The first time I heard this use was when a colleague informed me: Ese restaurante es topísimo.
Heavy: Something that’s grave, weighty, or impactful. ¿Supiste que unas tres personas murieron en la huelga? Sí, qué heavy. (Did you hear that three people died in the strike?)
Sorry: Exactly what you think. Except with a Chilean accent and strongly rolled rrrrs. Yesterday as I left the bus, a man stepped on me. He turned around and, after a sincere “sorry!” was gone again.
Too much: Basically the same use as Sassy Gay Friend in this video around 1:10… “That’s a little too much.” Graciela Alfano, an Argentine model, demonstrates the use nicely here:
I don’t know what she’s talking about, but I can’t help but think the same thing about her hair and makeup…
Feeling: This is similar to onda; basically it’s used to talk about if there’s a vibe or click between people. During the trial first class with one of my students, his mother assured me that “lo importante es ver si hay feeling.” (The important thing is to see if there is feeling.)
And there you have it! Sometimes, just speak English and people will understand you.
(As always, suggestions for future Chilenismos of the week are always welcome. Don’t worry if it takes a couple of weeks to see your suggestions; I only do about five words a week and try to stay ahead of my game… so keep ’em up!)