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    Entries in jargon (4)


    How do you say "How much does it cost?” in Colombian Spanish?

    Here is a dialogue between a foreigner who is learning Spanish in Colombia and his Colombian friend, so you can learn the different ways to determine how much one needs to pay for something.

    Colombian pesos (COP)

    Foreigner: My friend, how are you?

    Colombian friend: Hello, my friend, good. And you?

    Foreigner: Very good, thank you. A little question...

    Colombian friend: Tell me.

    Foreigner: Which are the different ways to ask "How much does it cost?" in paisa language?

    Colombian friend: "¿Cuánto vale…?" "¿A cómo ...?" For example, "¿A cómo ese pantalón?" "¿Qué precio tiene…?" But in general it is "¿Cuánto vale ...?"

    Foreigner: Thank you, you’re great. When does one use "Cuánto cobra?" or is this not used?

    Colombian friend: Aaaahhh, yes. But this is, for example, if you need someone’s services and you ask him or her, "¿Cuánto cobras por hacerme ...?"

    Foreigner: Then, one says "¿A cómo ese pantalón?", "¿Qué precio tiene ese pantalón?" or "¿Cuánto vale ese pantalón?" Are there errors in these phrases?

    Colombian friend: This. In this way. But this, "¿A cómo …", it isn’t well spoken Spanish. In other words, the paisas use it, but it isn’t well spoken Spanish. Do you understand me?

    Foreigner: Yes, it’s jargón.

    Colombian friend: Aja, yes.

    Foreigner: But jargon is important to live.

    Colombian friend: Yes, it depends who you have a relationship with or who you are with.

    Foreigner: How does one end the phrase, "¿Cuánto cobras por hacerme ...?"

    Colombian friend: For example, if the washing machine breaks and you call the technician, you’re able to ask him or her, "¿Cuánto me cobras por arreglarme la lavadora?"

    Foreigner: Ahhhhhh, thank you. And if you go to a bar and there is a "cover charge" to enter, how do you say "How much is the cover charge?"

    Colombian friend: "¿Cuánto vale el cover?"

    Foreigner: Thank you!

    Colombian friend: With pleasure.


    Traffic and Traffic Jam

    Traffic Jam in Medellin

    Today, I was in a taxi and the taxi driver used the word, "antrancados". Because I’m still learning Spanish and I don’t understanding everything I hear, I asked him, "How do you use the word 'atrancados' in a sentence? For example, can you say, the cars are 'atrancados'?" The taxi driver responded, "Yes" and told me the origin of the words "trancón" and "trancar". In Colombia, the word "taco" is often used as the equivalent of the English word "traffic" and "trancón" is often used as the equivalent of the English word "traffic jam". The taxi driver explained that, in the past, people secured doors and windows with a thick, strong piece of wood. In Spanish, "palo" is the equivalent of "piece of wood" or "stick" and "tranca" is the equivalent of "a thick, strong piece of wood". After you secure a door or window with a "tranca", it is jammed (it can’t be moved). When cars are in a traffic jam, they can’t be moved. Therefore, the cars are "jammed" or "atrancados". So, "trancar", derived from "tranca", became a reference for the action of "jamming" something and "trancón" became a reference for a "bottleneck" or "traffic jam", because the cars in a traffic jam are jammed (they can’t be moved). We’ll have to save "taco" for another day because I haven’t yet learned how "taco" became a reference for "traffic". Perhaps it's because we jam a lot of food into a taco. Of course, I’ll ask another driver.


    Words and phrases (official or jargon)

    Here are some words I recently learned in Colombia. When you are unaware of your surroundings (e.g., when you fall asleep in the car unintentionally), you are “foquiado (m), foquiada (f)”. When you have nothing to do, you are “desparchado (m), desparchada (f)”. And when you’re not hungry, you’re “desganado (m), desganada (f)”. For example, if you buy only a cappuccino at a café and the employee asks you if you want something to eat, too, and you say “no, thank you”, the employee may ask you, “¿Estás desganado?”. “Shuffle” on a music player is “aleatorio” and “payment”, such as “making a payment”, is “pago”.


    Café words

    When I travel, I often go to a café to work and to be close to people who speak the local language and jargón. In Colombia, the café employees like to share words in our native languages. Today, I shared the English words “sympathetic” and “apathetic” with them and they shared the Spanish words “acongojado (m) acongojada (f)” and “carizbajo (m), carizbaja (f)” with me. In Spanish, “sympathetic” means “simpático (m) simpática (f)” and “apathetic” means “apático (m) apática (f)”. In Colombia, when someone says, “¿Estás acongojado?” or “¿Estás carizbajo?”, these phrases can mean the equivalent of “Are you sad?” in English. Not to forget, the local jargon is often able to change the meaning of a word or phrase.