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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Caveman Spanish: 14 ‘sounds’ that will make you seem like a true Spaniard

Spaniards use countless interjections and onomatopoeia in daily talk. If you don’t speak Spanish well but want to pass yourself off as ‘a good listener’, these monosyllables and very short words will help you blend in in Spain.

Caveman Spanish: 14 'sounds' that will make you seem like a true Spaniard
Much the same as this Australian football fan dressed up as a caveman whilst bashing a ‘Spanish’ blow-up doll, learning these interjections won’t win you any prizes, but it’ll help you get the message across. Photo: William West/AFP

¡Bah! 

Used to express indifference or disdain.

Example: ¡Bah! Me da igual. Meh! I don’t care.

Photo: Alejandro Forero Cuervo/Flickr

¡Puf! 

Used to express concern or worry.

Example: ¡Puf! No encuentro mi móvil. Damn! I can’t find my phone.

Photo: Sammy-Williams/Pixabay

¡Uy!

Similar to ‘puf’ but used when something bad has happened or is about to happen. The more ‘uys’, the worse the problem is.

Example: ¡Uy, uy, uy! Esa casa está en llamas. Oh, Oh! That house is on fire.

Photo: Pezibear/Pixabay

¿Eh?

A more unrefined way of expressing that you haven’t heard what someone has said or you haven’t understood something. 

Example: ¿Eh? ¿Qué dices?  What? What did you say?

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

¡Ay!

Used to express physical pain or sorrow. 

Example: ¡Ay! ¡Me duele! Ouch! It hurts!

Photo: Sergio Henao/Flickr

¡Eh!

Used to get somebody’s attention in an unfriendly way.

Example: ¡Eh, tú! Dame un cigarro. Oi, you! Give me a cigarette! 

Photo: Desiree Martin/AFP

¡Ey!

An informal greeting, friendlier than ‘eh’, probably derived from ‘hey’ in English.

Example: Ey! ¿Cómo estás? Hey, how are you?

Photo: Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP

 

¡Puaj!

A way of expressing disgust for something.

Example: Puaj! ¡Qué asco!. Yuck! That’s disgusting!

Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP

¡Guay!

The Spanish way of saying you think something is cool or that you agree with it. 

Example: ¿Así que vamos a la playa? ¡Guay! So we’re going to the beach? Cool!


Photo: Max Ravier/Pexels

¡Pum!

Onomatopoeia used to describe a hard hit.

Example: Cogió el balón y pum! Gol! He got the ball and bang! Goal!

Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

¡Zas!

Similar to ‘pum’ but used when the hit is unexpected, an act of karma or vengeance. ‘Zasca’ is also used.

Example: Y de repente – ¡zas! – en toda la boca. And all of sudden – pow! – right on the kisser.

¡Hala!

It’s used in a slightly condescending manner when somebody puts their foot in it. 

Example: ¡Hala! ¿Pero qué demonios haces?  Here we go! What the hell are you doing?

Photo: Robin Higgins/Pixabay

¡Epa!

Used when somebody slips or bumps into something, or almost does. In the Basque Country it’s often used to greet someone as well. 

Example: ¡Epa! ¡Casi me caigo! Oops! I nearly fell over. 

Photo: CLIVE BRUNSKILL/AFP

¡Olé!

Perhaps the most quintessential Spanish word there is, it’s commonly associated with praising bullfighters every time they dodge the animal, but it’s used in everyday speech to commend someone or something.

Example: ¡Olé, que arte! Bravo, beautifully done!

Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP

Disclaimer: This language list isn’t meant to hurt the feelings of cavemen or struggling Spanish language learners, nor is it meant to imply that Spanish is a simple language (far from it) or that Spaniards speak in grunts. It’s simply a light-hearted list of commonly used interjections that may help you sound more like a native speaker in Spain 🙂

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

This adjective is essential slang talk in Spain, a word with lots of meanings, all of them fairly negative.

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

Chungo is a colloquial way of saying that something is difficult, dodgy or bad. 

It can be used to describe a variety of scenarios and it’s a great way of talking like a native Spanish speaker. 

You can talk about the weather being chungo if there are ominous black clouds up ahead.

If you’re stepping into a dodgy neighbourhood, then watch out because it’s un barrio chungo

If you bought a hairdryer at the rastro (flea market) and it doesn’t work properly, then it’s clearly chungo, and the seller is just as chungo.

Maybe you’ve just sat an exam with complicated questions, you’d call it un examen chungo.

Or if you don’t feel very well, then you’re the one that is chungo

There’s even an expression to say that things aren’t looking good – la cosa está chunga.

All in all, chungo is a very versatile adjective that you can incorporate into most daily speech even though it’s colloquial. 

Here are some examples to help you get used to using chungo.

Example:

Está el tiempo un poco chungo, mejor no vamos a la playa.

The weather isn’t very good today, it’s best if we don’t go to the beach. 

Example:

¡Ojo! Es un tío bastante chungo así que no te fíes de él.

Be careful! He’s a pretty dodgy guy so don’t trust him. 

Example:

Le has comprado un perfume muy chungo a mamá por el Día de la Madre.

You’ve bought Mum a really crappy perfume for Mother’s Day.

Example:

El barrio de El Príncipe en Ceuta es muy chungo, ¡ten cuidado!

El Príncipe neighbourhood in Ceuta is very dodgy, be careful!

 

Example:

Me encuentro un poco chungo, con mareos y nauseas. 

I’m feeling a bit bad, I’m dizzy and nauseous. 

Example:

¿Dama de honor cuando el novio es tu ex? ¡Qué situación más chunga!

Maid of honour when the groom is your ex? ¡That’s an uncomfortable situation!

Example:

¡La cosa está chunga! El Barça tiene que marcar cinco goles para clasificarse.

Things aren’t looking good. Barça have to score five goals to qualify.

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