Central Valley Feature


Speaking Costa Rican

Spanish in Costa Rica tends to be localized. This is a land where eloquent speech and creative verbal expression are highly valued. For example, here the response to a "thank-you" is the gracious, uniquely Tico "Con mucho gusto" ("With much pleasure") instead of "De nada" ("It's nothing"), which is used in much of Latin America. In other cases, informality is preferred: the conventional Señor and Señora, for example, are eschewed in favor of the more egalitarian Don and Doña, used before a first name. Even President Laura Chinchilla is called "Doña Laura." Although young Costa Rican men address everyone as maje (dude), you'll get a withering look if you, a visitor, follow suit.

adios good-bye; but also used as "hello" in rural areas

agarrar de maje to pull someone's leg

birra beer

brete work

cachos shoes

chunche any thingamajig

clavar el pico to fall asleep

con mucho gusto used in response to "thank you" instead of "de nada"

estar de chicha to be angry

estar de goma to have a hangover

harina money

jupa head

macho, macha a person with blond hair

maje buddy, dude, mate

mamá de Tarzán know-it-all

maría a woman's name; also a taxi meter

matar la culebra to waste time

montón a lot

muy bien, gracias a Dios very well, thank goodness

muy bien, por dicha very well, luckily

paño towel

pelo de gato cat hair; or fine, misty rain that falls in December

peso colón

pinche a tight-fisted person

ponerse hasta la mecha to get drunk

porfa please

pura vida fantastic, great

rojo red; also a 1,000-colón note

si Dios quiere God willing

soda an inexpensive local restaurant

torta a big mistake or error

tuanis cool

tucán toucan; also a 5,000-colón note

upe anyone home?

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