Having lived in Colombia for the last two years, I arrived to Guatemala two weeks ago, to come and volunteer at Trama, feeling confident enough with my ability to communicate in Spanish. However I quickly began to realise that there are many words used differently or that I had never come across before.
To get us started, as Trama is a group of 400 indigenous women, amongst who share five different languages, it might be best to begin with a couple of words from the languages Mam and Kaqchiquel, of the president of Trama Textiles, Ampero and vice president, Oralia.
Chjonté – thank you in Mam.
Maltiox – thank you in Kaqchiquel.
Ru way quen – ´´Trama´´ the weft thread of the weaving in Kaqchiquel.
Tu wa chimoj – ´´Trama´´ in Mam.
Also, should you decide to come and do a weaving class here at Trama Textiles, here are some basic weaving words to get you through your first class!
Tejer – to weave
Telar – a loom
Devanadera – yarn swift
Devanar – to wind
Urdir – to wind a warp
Nicapal – belt
Urdidor – warping board
Armar – to warp a loom
hConsidering 20 countries have Spanish as an official language and furthermore, there are over 400 million Spanish speakers worldwide, it´s not suprising to find a few coloquialisms here and there! In Guatemala they are known as ´Chapinismos´. It can be overwhelming but do not fear, I have compiled a mini dictionary of some of the words that you may come across in your time here!
Abuelitas – used to affirm something, the way you might say confidently ´of course´.
´´¿Vos tuviste la calificación mas alta de tu clase?´´
Did you receive the highest grade in your class?
´´¡Abuelitas!´´ (or if you want to add a little more you could say ´´Abuelitas de Batman!´´)
Ametralladora – This is a cord of small fireworks that come in different sizes and are wrapped in red crepe paper. It is tradition to set them off early in the morning (my room-mate reported to me that on Sunday this woke her up at 5.30 a.m.!). It is usually to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, New Year or perhaps the goals of a favourite football team!
Bien miqui maus (gacho) – this is used to describe an object that is of low quality or not very well made. You are more than likely to see many of examples of this in some of the markets here!
e.g. ¡Tu billetera está bien miqui maus! Se ve toda gacho!
Your wallet looks like fake!
Burra – a form of transporation here that is also called ´´la burra´´, ´´la camioneta´´, ´la camandúla´´, ´´el bus´´.
Cacho –a small amount of something for example time, space, quantity.
e.g. ´Esperame un cacho.´
Wait a sec.
Chapín – a person from Guatemala.
Chimolera –someone who likes to gossip about everything.
e.g. ´´!Ella es bien chimolera!´´
She is such a gossip.
Chivo – this word orginally means goat, however people from Quetzaltenango (where Trama is based!) can be referred to as ´Chivos´ also!
Chucho – dog (you will see a lot of these whereever you go!)
Elotes locos – this is a kind of street food that is usually corn covered in mayonese, mustard, ketchup and cheese. It´s a lot of sauce for my liking, but definately worth a try!
Es que fijese – usually used to justify why something offered has not been completed, like an excuse.
´´!Es que fijese, iba a hacerlo hoy pero no tenía tiempo!´´
It´s that…look…I was going to do it today but I didn´t have time!
Huevo – well you probably already know this literally means egg
…however…there are whole host of alternative uses!
A huevos – for sure
Mi huevo – definately no
A puro huevo – something obligatory
Que huevos – how terrible!
Hacer huevo – to break, crash into
Hacer huevos – to help someone
Hacerle huevos – to put up with
Ponerle huevos – to be determined about something
Que hueva – to be lazy about something
Hueviar – to steal
Ahuevar – to scare
Ishto – refers to a child. You could also say ´´patojito´´, ´´chiris´´, ´´güiro´´, ´´muchachito´´.
Mara – a close group of friends. However, be warned, it is not to be confused with the other meaning which comes from the word ´´pandilleros´´ meaning gang member!
Me regala – from the verb ´regalar´ which means to give. When in a shop or restaurant you can order by saying ´´Me regala…..´´. This one confused me a lot as it is not applicable for all Spanish speaking countries, for example in Mexico, they might think you asking for something for free.
Muchá – this is a very informal term used with friends in a group.
e.g. ´´Vamos, muchá´´
Lets go guys!
Naranjas con pepita – orange with salt and pepper sprinkled on top, which can usually be found at a football stadium, I am yet to try them!
Patatush – serious illness that requires hospitalization. It´s a little worse than ´´el telele´´, ´´shucaque´´ but not as serious as ´´ishkamic´´.
¡Que arralon! – used after a fright!
e.g. ´´Casi me caigo. ¡Que arralon!´´
I nearly fell, how scary!
¡Que buzo! – To show admiration for something. How cool!
¡Que clavo! – how embarassing!
You can support us by visiting our Etsy store, to see some of our amazing handwoven fair wage accessories and homeware, made by the women in our 100% worker-owned weaving cooperative.
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We are always looking for experienced volunteers to come join us here at Trama. We have some great opportunities, and don’t charge any fees for our placements. Check out what’s available now on Idealist.org.