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Top 10 Bolivian Spanish Slang Words and Expressions

Top 10 Bolivian Spanish Slang Words and Expressions
Guest author for this article, Robert, is a UK writer living in Bolivia. He is currently a writer for Listen and Learn.

Top 10 Bolivian Spanish Words and Expressions

When you travel around South America you’ll realize the words and expressions used vary from one country to another. Sure, your Spanish level might be up there with the best of them, but what about those tricky regional variations?

If you’re planning on heading to Bolivia then take note of a few of the words and phrases you might come across there for the first time.

1. Bien pesadito
You will probably spend a lot of time in the markets in Bolivia, as this is where you can eat and shop cheaply and in an interesting setting. The vendors always seem to treat gringos fairly but if you want to make sure they give you the right amount of something then this is the phrase to use. It means properly weighed but the diminutive softens it so that no one can take offense, which is a common tactic here.

2. ¿Me va a servir bien mercadito, ya?
This is kind of like the previous point but refers more to a plate of food that you want to see filled up the way it should be. There are a couple of interesting points in this phrase. First of all, the formal use of usted instead of tu is widespread here. Secondly, ending a phrase in ya just means ok in Bolivia, although you may have learned it as meaning “already”.

3. Full
The Bolivian usage of the English word full really confused me at first. They don’t mean it in the same sense, which is lleno in Spanish. Instead, they mean well equipped. For example, an apartment which is luxuriously decorated would be a full departamento.

4. Salteña
If you’ve been to Argentina before Bolivia you will probably know that a Salteña is someone or something that comes from the city of Salta. However, in Bolivia they use this word to describe the delicious mid morning pastry snacks that no tourist can spend time here without becoming addicted to.

5. Estoy yesca
This is a great little expression which means to have no money on you. I have never heard it used anywhere but in Bolivia, although I just did some research online and it seems that Mexicans call marijuana by this name – you might want to be careful where you throw this one around.

6. Bolivia, Corazón de Sudamérica
Bolivians are very proud of their country. An expression that sums it up is this one, which says that the country is the heart of the continent.

7. ¿Que va a llevar caserita/o?
This is an expression that you’ll hear in markets – some of the vendors might even direct it at you! Caserita or caserito is a person who buys from a stallholder and this phrase would be used to ask you what you’re going to buy and take away with you.

8. Te invito
This expression would make sense anywhere in the Spanish speaking world, I think. However, the reason I have included it here is that it is used in a very Bolivian custom. When you are with a group of locals who are drinking they will probably only use one glass and pass it to each person in turn. Before you take your last drink from the glass, look at the person you’re going to pass it to and say te invito, which means I invite you (to a drink).

9. ¡Velay!
This word is an expression of surprise which is used like ¡Caramba! in other Spanish speaking countries. You can use it in a variety of settings when you’re told something that surprises you.

10. Sorochi
As far as I am aware, Bolivia is the only country where they call altitude sickness sorochi soroche. In fact, if you are in La Paz and want to take something to combat the nasty effects of this condition you will find sorochi soroche pills on sale.

Check out these other Bolivian Spanish Slang Word articles.

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  • http://www.newsday.com EGisme

    Five things you need to know about the reliability of this list.

    1. Main headline changes from “top slang words” to just “top words” along the way
    2. No expert is cited, not even a native.
    3. Bolivia, Corazón de Sudamérica…really? A top expression?
    4. “I just did some research online”
    5. “As far I am aware, Bolivia is the only country where they call altitude sickness sorochi.” Wrong. And it’s not even spelled right. It’s soroche.

    And this is just by doing a cursory reading. Quite suspect. No wonder author is an SEO expert. All hat and no cattle.

    • http://www.speakinglatino.com/ Jared

      Hello Emilio,

      Thank you for sharing comment #5 above. I must say however, that the negative and accusatory tone is not necessary in the majority of your comment.

      We have always openly mentioned here that much of the information on Speaking Latino comes from peoples’ personal experiences. Many of these people (me included) share this information in the hopes of documenting and expanding knowledge about Spanish slang and Spanish used in specific countries.

      It would have been more than sufficient for you to simply point out any corrections. The only useful comment I see above is #5. The first 4 points you make are simply to insult someone else. They do not improve the conversation about Spanish slang or Spanish in Bolivia.

      If you have reached perfection in your life then please share with the rest of us how you have pulled that off. We would like to become perfect too.



      • http://www.newsday.com EGisme

        True, I could have been less snarky in the list (but not insulting; pointing out facts is not insulting, #3 was snarky, agreed.) But I’d feel worse if you didn’t advertise yourself as:

        “the largest guide in English to Hispanic Spanish slang, modismos, jerga, lingo, argot and lunfardo available…[We] are language lovers dedicated to researching, writing, collecting and translating Spanish slang words, and articles on the differences of Spanish throughout the Latino world.”

        I make plenty of mistakes, and own up to them when they’re pointed out. To imply that one believes oneself to be perfect just because an error is pointed out is silly. Just fix what’s wrong and move on.

        • Margaret Nahmias

          The idea is tone was off, you could have sent it personally, instead of writing it here. Jared did not write the article, but a person who was there. So please don’t accuse the owners of the blogs.

          • EGisme

            Sorry, I don’t know what “The idea is tone was off” means. I also don’t know what you mean by accusing, since I’m just pointing out stuff. If you disagree with my tone that’s one thing, but I don’t think stating facts should be bruising. If you share something on the web with the hope of crowdsourcing, you need to have enough of a thick skin to let the snark go. If you don’t, it’s best not to allow comments. Lastly, you seem to be implying that the owners of a website should not be held responsible for the content therein. If that’s what you’re saying, it’s an interesting concept.

          • Margaret Nahmias

            Parece tener el tono de sabelotodo, en vez de quiero ayudar aunque no tuvieras la intención de hacer eso . Ten cuidado porque por escrito faltan los elemento del voz. No puedes estar seguro de como será recibido. Ese es todo.

          • EGisme

            Perdón, pero el tono de sabelotodo es del autor y, por extensión, de la página de internet. Si yo lo emulo, ¿es culpa mía? For all I know the author is an eminence in Bolivian Spanish. However, the way he wrote things seems far more tentative and casual.

    • robert

      Thanks for your comments on this article I wrote. I can’t comment on the first point, which has to do with formatting on the site. However, here are my thoughts on your other points.
      2. Why would I need to cite a native expert when the article starts off by saying that I am a UK writer living in Bolivia? These are phrases I have picked up while living here and I checked them with my Bolivian wife before writing, to ensure validity .
      3. Bolivia, Corazón de Sudamérica is a valid top expression as far as I am concerned. As I said at the start, these are phrases you might not hear elsewhere. I have heard and read this a number of times as a way of showing national pride at the country’s position – literally and metaphorically – in the continent.
      4. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing some research online to check out whether the phrase is used somewhere else the writer hasn’t been to. Why would anyone call the article’s “reliability” into question because of this phrase?
      5. I was in La Paz last week and bought “Sorochi” tablets from a phramacist. I have also seen it spelt it this way on a number of other occasions. I have never heard it called this anywhere else, although I never ruled this out in the article. This is an alternative spelling
      which appears to be widespread in the country I am writing about.

      Finally, being a writer (not an SEO expert as you stated) doesn’t take away from my local knowledge of a country I have lived in for 5 years and am now a citizen of. Perhaps you can explain why you consider that these issues would have to be mutually exclusive?

    • Alvaro

      About No. 5: “Soroche” expression from Perú. In Bolivia we use “Sorojchi” (with the “j”). And you can buy “Sorojchi pills” to feeling better (google it!)

  • http://boliviainmyeyes.wordpress.com/ Bolivia ‘In My Eyes’

    ‘ Caserita’ isn’t only the word describing buyers, but also vendors. You can say – rebajame caserita (or casera/ casero). Caserita is diminutive used usually in Cochabamba:)

  • Carlos Teran

    You should include achichiu and alalau (i’m not sure how it’s spelled) the first is something my girlfriend (and others i’ve heard) say when they hurt themselves kind of like a replacement for “ouch”. Alalau is somethingi’ve heard people say when they feel a sudden burst of cold like if they step outside from their house or drink something too cold.

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