Tico Talk

If something caught my attention, for good, in Costa Rica, it is the enormous richness of its vocabulary. What you just read is a brief dialogue written only using words from the country’s daily dictionary.

Although their formal language is very similar to Spanish in Spain, when Ticos speak colloquially they use a lot of their own words.

Obviously, a Spanish-speaker can communicate perfectly with anyone in Costa Rica even if they don’t know a single one of their “Costa Ricans,” but knowing something more about their language is a nice way to get closer to their reality.

The Tico Times does a “Tico Talk” series for expats and tourists. Visit their site for more words and phrases.

Ahuevado:To be sad or down.
Balazo:Ridicule, shame.What balazo, have failed the test!
Bateador:Person that is usually guessing (no certainty of the truth).
Bicho:All kinds of bugs or insects.
Birra:Beer, beers in plural means “birras”
Bocas:Appetizers served to eat liquor makers.
Brete:Work. bretear (v.): to work. July bretea much, I see very tired.
Chancecito:Time. Give me just a chancecito to help you fix dinner.
Chavalo:(Noun) Boy, child. There are a chavalos who ignore and continue to play into the street.
Chichi:(m.) Child (a)
Chinear:Give love, pamper, treat well.
Chiva, Chivisima:Expression among young denoting pleasure, something cool.
Chunche:Thing, object. chunchero: lots of things.
L.j. :Let’s go,”los juimos” (nos fuimos).
Macho, Machito:Person of hair and clear skin.
Pa’l tigre:The opposite of pure life, be wrong for some reason.
Pacho:Comic, funy situation, embarased situation
Pele el ojo!:Expression of warning, such as ” Beware”
Porfa:Please, abreviation of por favor
Soque!:Expression to hurry.
Suave!:Expression to ask them to wait or stop.
Upe!:Flavourful used to knock on the door.
Wachin pupilas:Be alert, “look to Christ,” pay attention.
Zarpe:Last drink the Ticos are taken, the zarpe is not always the last one

Photo courtesy of the Tico Times.