Word-A-Day the Porteño Way: Che!

So at this point I kind of speak Spanish. Gone are the days I fear having to go to the grocery store. Instead, the really hard part has become trying to use porteño slang or sayings interspersed in my overly formal and yet completely broken Spanish.

It seems like a good place to start would be the word “che”, as there are few more common words in Argentina. When Americans hear the word “che”, we usually first think of Che Guevara. Turns out that Che’s first name is actually Ernesto…he gained the nickname “che” while in Cuba because, like all Argentines, he used the word constantly.

I thought I knew his name...

I thought I knew his name...

So, what exactly does “che” mean? It can be used to refer to a friend like “dude” or “bro”. At the same time, it can be used to get someone’s attention like “hey!” or “yo”. It can even be used as a filler or as an affirmation at the end of a sentence.

Even though I had heard about “che” before coming to Argentina, it is only recently that I have come to here it everywhere. Since it is such a quick, common sound, I have only recently begin to distinguish it from the other words in a sentence. Its only taken me a month and a half, but I’m finally hearing the che’s!

Now here comes the hard part, trying to use “che” myself. In theory, it’s a totally simple task. Its one syllable that can be used almost anywhere and make sense. I might even sound a little like I know what I’m doing, in theory, if I make a true effort to use it. But, like my inability to pull off “wicked” without sounding like an idiot, I hesitate to use “che” in my speech.

"The Bruins are wicked awesome!" I would caption this pic if it didn't make me hate myself.

"The Bruins are wicked awesome!" would be the caption of this photo if it didn't make me hate myself.

Alas, it is only in my dreams that I can curse as eloquently as this lady.

But we can all dream, che?