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Argentinean Slang: Ni Un Sope

know, speak 11 comments

One of the best things about Argentines is their creative use of language. We’ve covered this topic before here and here. And you can find all of our posts about language in the category speak.

The first list below is just the essential words that we’ve already talked about in the last two posts on money: 15 Money Tips and Money in Buenos Aires. The second list covers the slang words dealing in some way or another with money.

Basic Vocabulary

cajero automatico – automated teller machine (or ATM)
banco – bank
billetes – bills (or banknotes)
monedas – coins
cambio – change
cambiar – to change or to exchange
casa de cambio – places that exchange foreign currencies
tarjeta de credito – credit card
efectivo – cash
plata – money (they use this more often than dinero, although they understand dinero)
trucho(a) – fake or false (you can also say falso)

Fun Language

Spanish here in Argentina is called Castellano. We talked about this distinction here. For many travelers who already speak some Spanish, understanding Argentines is way more difficult than they imagined. It’s not just the pronunciation and intonation difference or the fact that lots of things are called by a completely different name here. It’s because Argentines use a ton of slang. Here are some examples that, of course, deal with money.

  1. mango – peso (it’s like using the slang buck for dollar)
  2. seco(a) – literally it means dry, here it means broke
    “¿Tenés un mango para prestarme?”

    “No, estoy seco.”
  3. guita – money
  4. afanar – to steal or rob
    “Ese tipo nos quiere afanar la guita.”

    “They always think foreigners are made of money.”

Cheaters & Swindlers

  1. vivo – a person who is sly and not going to give away a penny
    “Ese tipo es un vivo.”
    “Yeah, but he doesn’t know that I lived in Egypt and can haggle with the best of them.”
  2. chanta – cheater or swindler
    “Dale, no sea chanta.”
    “Who me? What are you talking about?”
    “Los 100 mangos son truchos.”

Moochers & Penny Pinchers

  1. garronear; gorronero(a) – to mooch or always ask for money; a mooch or freeloader
  2. manguear; manguero(a) – to mooch or always ask for money; a mooch or freeloader
  3. pedigüeño(a) – a mooch or freeloader
  4. tacaño – a penny pincher or cheapskate
    ¿Otra vez garronenado un café?” OR  “Pagá una birra no seas tan tacaño.”
    “I promise I’ll get it next time. All the ATMs were out of money today.”

Puro Lunfardo

Lunfardo is a lingo that developed in Buenos Aires and other cities around the Río de la Plata towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. You’ll find a lot of Lunfardo words still commonly used today. Oftentimes, the word in Lunfardo uses the same syllables of the Spanish word but in reverse of in a different order. Look at these two examples.

  1. sope – peso (notice the letters are the same, but the syllables are reversed)
  2. garpar – to pay (the Spanish word is pagar, so it’s the same syllables but in reverse)
  3. laburo – work (this one comes from the Italian word for work which is lavoro)
    “En el laburo no me garparon ni un sope.”
    “I hear ya. They throw me two mangos and nothing more at my job.”

What did I miss? Got any other expressions or words to add to this list?

2 Comments To This Article… add one

  • Enrique

    August 15, 2010, 10:22 pm Reply

    Almost all these words that you call slang come from Spain, some of them are not currently used (archaisms). Take into account that Argentina received more than 2 million Spaniards during XX century.

  • Angela @SanTelmoLoft

    August 15, 2010, 11:41 pm Reply

    Thanks for the comment, Enrique. Language is such a great topic. I love how we all take from all sorts of other places.

    Cheers,
    Angela

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