Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Algunas palabras

I spent a lot less time than I should have speaking Spanish in Bolivia, but I did learn some new words. Some are regional or have regional meanings. Here is a sampling:

  • chamarra - a jacket
  • chompa - a pullover sweater. The word is derived from the English word "jumper".
  • llajwa or llajhua - a very spicy salsa
  • polainas - leg warmers
  • wawa - a baby. This is a Quechua word that has entered the regional Spanish.

I also learned two expressions. I knew the words before, but I didn't have the full context for the phrases.

  • gracias / provecho - This is the greeting and reply at the end of a meal, said before leaving the table. Although it amounts to saying "thank you", it is not directed towards the cook, at least not anymore. It is said to anyone and everyone dining with you. A couple of people asked me what the English equivalent would be, and I don't think there really is one, at least nothing quite the same.
  • cuando floresca el chuño - There is a song by this title, which I had heard before my visit. Literally, it means "when the chuño blooms". What I had missed was that the chuño is a dried potato and does not grow or bloom. (I got a chance to taste some, finally. They taste much better than they look.) Thus, this expression means "never", something akin to "when pigs fly".

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