A couple of weeks ago when I posted Of Goats and Men: Chilean Words for People, a friend commented that I had omitted many Chilenismos that compare people to animals. And there are many of them. So, in honor of Marco, I present this week’s Chilenismos:
Pavo—Someone who is “turkey” is slow on the uptake, silly, clumsy, or absentminded. The demographic that best illustrates this is pre-teens. I mean, just imagine dozens of them in a room, speaking to each other with their “gobblegobblegobbles” and other nonsense, trying to hide the zits that have begun sprouting on their chins. And so in Chile, la edad del pavo (“the turkey age”) is the preteen years.
Una yegua—A yegua is a mare, a female horse. We have another female animal in English that we use to describe someone like this. A female dog, to be more precise. Google it.
Sapo—A sapo is literally a frog, with their huge eyes staring you down, their ears always alert, but most importantly, their big mouths ready to snap open and spill the beans at any second, right? Well, that’s why Chileans call busybodies, gossips, or eavesdroppers sapo. For example, Edwin might say to me,
“Un alumno le dijo a otro profe que yo no paso la lista en clase.” (A student told another professor that I don’t do roll call in my class.)
And I’d respond, “Pucha, el huevón sapo.” (Shoot, what a busybody.)
Also, as with most Chilenismos, be careful; sapo can also mean… female genitalia. Shorry.
Ser vaca—To be a cow is to be a traitor. Why do cows get such a bad wrap? They seem such simple and stupid animals. It might have to do with another phrase, ser pata de vaca, or “to be a cow’s hoof,” which indicates someone who treats another person cruelly. All I can think of is, “Late last night, when we were all in bed, Old Lady Leary lit the lantern in the shed, and when the cow kicked it over…” there was the Chicago fire. The end. Traitorous.
Picaflor—Hummingbirds! A picaflor is a womanizer, a man who runs around with all the ladies the same way a hummingbird courts every flower he sees. Look at the picture to your right, and be creative with this parallel. I’ll say no more.
I know there are many more I’ve left out! As I rule, I don’t want to address more than five Chilenismos at a time, so keep shooting me your suggestions or questions, and know that I will get to them as soon as possible!