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Mexican Slang 101By Nancy Seeley
Híjole! Qué onda? Ándale! Guácala!
Is that Spanish? Si…but you probably won’t find those words in a traditional Spanish/English dictionary, and they most likely won’t turn up in lessons at a language school because they’re Mexican slang. Translated, they mean “Holy cow! What’s happening? Hurry up! That’s horrible!” If you can incorporate these and other expressions in your speech down here, you’ve taken a step towards sounding like a local.
Like English slang, some words can mean different things depending on the situation. Órale, for example, means “sounds great” in a positive sense, but when spoken negatively, it changes to “what the heck”…or something a lot stronger. (Similarly, híjole morphs from “hey” to that stronger “what the &*!!!#”.)
Qué padre! And Qué barbara! both mean “cool!,” while qué poca madre signifies “not worth a darn.” Although the dictionary says lana is wool, it also means “money” or – to use English slang – “dough.” If you call someone codo, you’re saying he’s a cheapskate, even though the dictionary primly says that word means “elbow.” When you get the hang of this stuff, you may well say sale y vale, which means “I agree.”