Why learning Salvadoran slang?
written by Henning
Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”
Maybe you have already had the experience: you thought your Spanish is quite well and then you start a conversation with some local people at a party – and you’re getting lost in translation!
If you travel to a foreign country and learn another language, you will recognize all these slang words and phrases sooner or later. Same in El Salvador!
Be prepared and get to know the most crucial phrases in Salvadoran slang.
If you’re interested, we also offer you a Salvadoran Slang quiz to test your knowledge about how “guanaco” you really are. Try our Salvadoran Slang Quiz: click here!
By the way: It might be beneficial to know how to say these phrases, but also it’s important to learn when NOT to say them! 😉
Be careful when using them in other Spanish-speaking countries. They might mean something different there, especially in Spain!
Learning Video about Salvadoran Slang
Mónica, our virtual Spanish teacher, has prepared a video about Salvadoran Slang for you.
The 10 most important Salvadoran Slang phrases
Here we go! If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave a comment below!
You can hear that very often when people (friends) in El Salvador greet each other (literally: “What’s the wave?”). This phrase is probably one of the most often Salvadoran slang expressions you will hear.
The answer could be like “Todo tranquilo!” (“All easy-going!”). Don’t say it to your Salvadoran boss if you have one; it is too much slang.
Literally, it means goat which obviously makes no sense at all. But it’s just an expression if you find something really cool, like: “How cool!” Example: ¡Que chivo que viniste a la fiesta! (“It’s so cool that you came to the party!”).
Or you could also say: “¡Que chivo esta iglesia!”
¿’Ta chivo, va? means nothing more than, It’s cool, isn’t it? Correctly pronounced you would say ¿Está chivo, va?
To avoid the harsh word “Pu&%!”, if you feel like swearing, you can use “Púchica!”. For example, your freshly bought ice-cream drops into the dirt you can yell: “Púchica!”. It’s also ok to use it in front of children; everyone does.
¡Cabal! ¡Ahuevo! ¡Simón!
Three Salvadoran slang words that mean nothing but the same: “Correct, you’re right!”. For example: “Compraste estas flores para mí!” – “A huevo!” (“Did you buy all these flowers for me!” – “Correct!”).
¡No tengo pisto!
There are so many words for “money” in Salvadoran Slang. Pisto is only one of them, but you will hear it a lot. Of course, ¡No tengo pisto! means: I have no money!
¡Es de choto!
De choto also means for free. So if you don’t have pisto you could ask ¿Es de choto? A very Salvadoran slang phrase is also “Al estilo Will Salgado.” Will salgado is/was the mayor of the city San Miguel in El Salador and always organized a big carnival in his city: for free!
Let’s go to the gym! – ¡Vaya pues! is a Salvadoran slang phrase that you will hear a lot. Using it means you agree with something like saying: Ok!
¡Que le vaya bien!
Goodbye! Take care! Salvadoran people are really friendly and you will often hear this Salvadoran phrase when you are leaving a start-now or something. It’s not really a slang phrase, but it’s so typical in El Salvador that it can’t miss in this list!
If someone says ¡Te pelaste! to you in El Salvador, it can have two meaning. Either you have done something really cool (You’re crazy!) or you did something really stupid (You messed it up!). Example: “I am going to be a pro surfer!” – “Puuuuya, te pelaste!”
Me llamo Teresa, ¿y vos?
Vos is not reall a Salvadoran slang word, but you will hear it a lot. That’s why I put it on the list. Vos is the informal version of tú (you). Also, you will often hear it at the end of a sentence: No sé, vos! (I don’t know, man!) El voseo is widespread in Latin America and can strongly recommend reading this article to learn more!