Say What???!

By La Gordita

Although English is obviously not the mother tongue of all travellers and expats, it does tend to be the default language most of us rely on to communicate with one another. While we study Espanol by day and attempt to communicate in English by night, there are some region-specific turns of phrase that make even native English speakers scratch their heads. Below is a handy guide to deciphering English from around the world.

Phrase: “Crack the shits.” Origin: Australia.  Meaning: To get upset about something. Example: When Lonnie got his phone bill he cracked the shits.

Phrase: “Pants.” Origin: UK. Meaning: No good. Example: “This party is pants!”

Phrase: “Sarnies/Sambos.” Origin: UK/AUS. Meaning: Sandwiches. Example: “Hey Alyce, I’m going to make some sarnies for our hike tomorrow.”

Phrase: “Jonesing.” Meaning: To have a craving for something. Origin: USA/CAD. Example: “Ugh, I’m totally jonesing for some decent chicken wings.” Fun Fact: There’s anecdotal evidence that the expression “jonesing” originated in 1960’s Manhattan, where Jones Alley was a notorious hangout of local drug addicts.

Phrase: “Flip flops.” Origin: US/Can/UK. Meaning: Thongs (footwear). Example: “Kristi, don’t forget to pack your flip flops for our trip to Monterrico this fin de semana.”

Phrase: What’s the craic? (pronounced “crack”) Origin: Ireland Meaning: What’s up? Example: “Oi mate, what’s the craic?”

Phrase: “Bloody oath!” Origin: AUS. Meaning: &%$* yeah! Example: “Patrick, you really crushed that pulmon of Quetzalteca on Friday”. Patrick: “Bloody oath mate!”

Phrase: “Snog.” Origin: UK. Meaning: To make out with. Example: “Did you guys see Luke snogging that girl on the dance floor at Shamrock last night?” Fun Fact: Make-out and snog  are also referred to as a “pash”, short for passionate kiss, in Australia. Tip: When snogging a bearded fella, watch out for “pash rash” ladies.

For those of you more established in Xela, the challenge becomes deciphering some of Guatemala’s commonly used expressions, to impress and entertain your local amigos.


Expression: “Que onda vos?”               Translation: What’s up?

Expression: “Si mon.”                            Translation: Yes, totally!

Expression: “A la gran.”                        Translation: Oh snap!

Expression: “Huevon(a).”                    Translation: Lazy/deadbeat.

Expression: “Que huevos.”                  Translation: Shitty/what a shame.

Expression: “A la que rico.”                 Translation: Mmm delicious! (used for food, and also heard in the bedroom).

Expression: “A huevos!”                      Translation: Right on! For sure!

Expression: “Eso!”                                Translation: Awww yeah!

So good luck navigating the rich tapestry of unintelligible modismos (slang expressions) that we all seem to spend so much of our spare time churning out! Orale!



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