A Friend is a Friend is a Friend is an Amigo?
If you know Spanish it’s not exactly subtle that the AMIGOS organization is exactly translated to “friends of the Americas” or “friends international.” Who wouldn’t want to be involved with an organization that celebrates friends? It is a great testament to the priority that participants have when they go into the field to build relationships rather than enterwith the sole purpose of completing a service project. Thus, when you work and participate with AMIGOS you will never forget how important it is to be a friend to one another. Luckily, the term is so universal that no matter which Spanish-speaking country you visit, you will be able to use the term amigos and make a friend without any problem. However, anyone who has ventured beyond their AP Spanish class to Spain or Latin America can testify to the fact that nearly every Spanish-speaking country speaks a unique dialect with their own crazy slang terms and accents. I learned the hard way, when I studied abroad in Chile, that you could not rely on knowing that beans translated to frijoles (Chile calls them porotos) or that a novio meant boyfriend (where in Chile that meant fiance and a boyfriend was actually called pololo). Nevertheless, I had so much fun picking up the slang because it made me feel that, after a while I could speak like a native!
So, I began to wonder, ¿como se dice “amigo” en otros países? Because knowing some of the slang will help you become true amigos even faster! My disclaimer is I did not consult with native speakers from every country but here is what I found with some basic googling. Enjoy! And go make a friend today!
Guey – dude, but also a random interjection (Mexico) Che – used both to say “hey!” or a term for your buddy (Argentina) Pata (Peru) Causa – a close friend (Peru) Fren – even sounds like friend! (Panama) Compai – slang for compadre, or friend (Dominican Republic, though the similar
“compa” is used in many places like Nicaragua/Mexico/Argentina/Costa Rica)
Mai – pronounced like “my” (Costa Rica) Broder – yeah like brother haha… (Ecuador) Pana – used a lot around the Caribbean (Ecuador, Mexico, Dominican Republic,
Panama, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua…)
Parce – mate or bro (Colombia)
Weon – offensive word used for a variety of things (so don’t use with a stranger)
but with friends it’s like using “dude” (Chile)
Yunta – a really close friend, tied to the hip. (Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay,
Nicaragua, Cuba, Argentina)
Well, there you go. Just a few ways to call someone a friend as you travel around Latin America – just in case you get tired of saying amigo or can’t think of anything other than
the organization now when you use the term!
-Erin Aucar, Regional Outreach Coordinator