4 Panamanian Phrases That Will Confuse You
How-To-Be-A-Successful-Gringo-In-Panama, the lessons continue….
Learning Spanish from a university class or Rosetta Stone will only get you so far. The beginner and intermediate lessons only begin to scratch the surface of the language. As you’ll quickly discover, Panama has its own brand of Spanish. Little phrases and inside jokes have meanings that won’t make sense to you at first. They’ll confuse you. Let’s start with…
Oiste is preterite tu form of the verb oir — to hear. Thus, oiste in Spanish translates to “did you hear me?”. It’s a confirmation that the person indeed heard you. For example: “Hey Miguel, can you grab me that bag of chips, oiste?”.
In some Panamanian’s lexcion, however, oiste is a part of the rhythm of speech. It is the English urban slang equivalent to “do ya feel me” or “ya know what I’m say’n”. The following is an example of how the use of oiste confused me in a recent conversation.
“Vamos a buscar comida, oiste?” (Let’s go look for food. Did you hear me?)
“Yes, I did understand. Ready to go!”
“Quiero un batido de guineo, oiste?” (I want a banana smoothie. Did you hear me?)
“Yes, yes, I understand. That sounds delicious!”
“Fren, esta viana es lo mejor, oiste?” (Friend, this shit is the best! Did you hear me?)
*** Fren is a Spanglish term and refers to the English word for friend.
Somewhat annoyed I replied, “Fren, I do speak Spanish. I know I have a heavy Gringo accent, but I understand 100% of what you are telling me. It is not necessary to ask me oiste after every sentence.”
I finally figured it out after he used oiste several times. He was not asking me to confirm that I indeed heard him. Rather, it was just a part of his pattern of speech.
Spanish 101 teaches you that Ahora = Now. Ahora vamos a la bibloteca (Now we go to the library). Simple. Yet, it is common for people to use Ahora as later.
“Evan, te llamo ahora.” (Evan, I call you now.)
“You call me… now? But, aren’t we already in a conversation? How will you call me now if we are already talking? I’m confused.”
“Evan, que te pasa? Te llamo AHORA!” (Evan, what is wrong with you? I call you now!)
“Hey, don’t que te pasa me, missy. “Ahora” is now. At least as I understand it.”
“Bueno. Evan, te llamo MAS TARDE, oiste!” (Good. Evan, I’ll call you later.)
Be sure to remember some general Panamanian Spanish guidelines.
English Spanish Panamanian Spanish
Later Mas Tarde Ahora
Now Ahora Ahorita
Already Ya YA! (YA means hurry up! I needed it 10 fucking minutes ago.)
Again, Spanish 101 teaches you that Siempre = Always. “Siempre es lo mejor” (It’s always the best).
However, in certain situations, it is used to replace the word todavía (still).
A female friend:
“Te vas al cine siempre?” (Do you go to the cinema always).
Hmm…. “It is true I enjoy the cinema as much as the next guy, but not always… I don’t understand. Are you asking me, ‘Do I always like to go to the movies?’ or ‘I’m always at the movies?’ Like I go to the cinema so much I practically live there, or something?”
“Evan, que estas hablando? TODAVIA quieres ir al cine?” (Evan, what are you talking about? Do you still want to go to the movies?)
“Ohhh…. now I understand. Do I want to go to the cinema tonight? …. Sure! Why didn’t you say that in the first place, silly :)”
4. Cuanto sale
Sale is the present tense it (he, she or it) form of the verb Salir. Salir = leave or to go out. It is commonly used in terms of going out to party. Like “Tu quieres salir hoy, mi amor?” (Do you want to party tonight, baby?).
It is also used to ask the price of a certain item. It replaces “Cuanto cuesta?” (how much?).
“Cuanto sale eso?”
Hmmm…. “Did you just ask, “Cuan-d-o sale eso?” (When does this leave?). “Sorry sir, but this item does not leave the store.”
*** Cuando = When. Cuanto = How.
El Senor, visibly annoyed, repeated himself very slowly and clearly:
“No, cuan-d-o s-a-l-e eso.” (How much this item goes out at night.)
Hmmm…. Strange. “Sir, I have no idea what you are saying.”
“A ver….” then El Senor explained to me the meaning and context of cuanto sale.
At first, these words and phrases will certainly confuse you. Don’t let it frustrate you. Instead, embrace it, mimic it, love it… Panamanize your vocabulary! If you combine these examples and sprinkle in some past EyeOnPanama.com helpful Spanish language articles; Spanish Sweet Nothings, Pretend Like You Speak Spanish and some Panamanian Slang terms, you’ll practically be a local! Dale, loco! (Do it, you crazy person!).
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