This week’s Cultural Tidbits Monday will be a short, but nonetheless sweet introduction to Puerto Rican slang! In a few words: Boricua slang is a ridiculous mix of Spanish and other ill-pronounced Anglicisms, in addition to plain Puerto Rican inventions. I don’t even dare to call Puerto Rican slang Spanglish because I feel that the latter is a tad more refined Not bashing my homeland, just sayin’…our language is a little dysfunctional Hope you like the post (and video)!
Now you know what I sound like! That’s a video shot by Mr Marcello (@WanderingTradr) before heading out on his epic world travels. We’ve been friends since college (back in 2005!) and never lost touch. Glad to see he is doing so well in his nomadic lifestyle
So! Back to the video! I’ll start by transliterating the Puerto Rican slang you just heard and wasn’t spelled out by Marcello in the video:
Super a fuego
If someone asks “how are you?” and you’re feeling great, you would say “¡Estoy super a fuego!” whose direct translation is actually “I am super on fire!” XD haha!
‘Ta to’ bien
Want an alternative answer if you’re feeling great? “Everything’s good!” It is a Puerto Rican slang abbreviation of the correct Spanish phrase “Está todo bien.”
When something is awesome, you would say this. It is more of the “guetto” kind of Puerto Rican slang, or the one used by the youth to sound (and feel) “cool.” I didn’t use this phrase much (I prefer “super a fuego” )
No, it isn’t bowel XD this is one of those ill-pronounced anglicisms in Puerto Rican slang. We are actually trying to say “blower” or hair dryer!
Que es la que hay corillo!? Todo bien!?
If you are the one who wants to ask a group of friends “how you doing?” you can say this. The direct translation of the phrase is “What is there group of friends!? All good!?” Yeah, doesn’t translate quite right, as the phrase omits a noun or two
Group of friends. I used this way too much in college! So much that when my Latin group of friends made t-shirts for our group, mine said “Corillo” in the back.
Pai / Mai
The very guetto way of saying dad (pai) and mom (mai) in Puerto Rican slang. Ironically, my own parents would almost punish me whenever I would say these words, plus I grew to dislike them anyway.
Selfin’ / Sulfin’
Now, a few additional words to close Cultural Tidbits Monday with broche de oro!
Another way of calling a friend. The plural form is panas. This word is not exclusive to Puerto Rican slang, as I have heard fellow Venezuelans say it constantly. Additionally, pana is the Puerto Rican abbreviation of panapén or breadfruit, which was brought from the South Pacific to the Caribbean during colonial times. It is now a Puerto Rican food staple!
Nope, not brothel! Again, another ill-pronounced anglicism, meaning “brother.” Same meaning as the English word, some Boricuas call their “bros” brodels.
Puerto Rican slang for Puerto Rican person, either male or female (yay for unisex nouns!). It actually derives from the Taíno word “Borikén,” which is how our island was named by our native indians, the Arawak Taínos, and means “Land of the Valiant Lord” (Wikipedia).
No, this wasn’t April’s Fool! More Puerto Rican slang to come next Monday
Learn more: Puerto Rican slang lesson, número dos