I learned to speak Pachuco before I learned Spanish. I didn’t have a clue until I started dating a local woman. She thought I was pretty vulgar and I had no idea what she was talking about.
When I moved to Costa Rica in 1980, my brother and I started a window cleaning company. Our employees were from the southern barrios of San José. We didn’t speak a word of Spanish and they, of course, didn’t speak any English.
In less than 6 months, I was getting by pretty well in Spanish, I thought. Every time I would be showing off my Spanish to a Tico or Tica, the other person would have a big smile for me. I thought that smile was to show my effort in trying to speak Spanish. Until I started dating!
Wikipedia refers to this word as
In Costa Rica, the word pachuco refers to a person who has manners that are socially unacceptable and often uses shocking language when speaking. Pachuco is also a pejorative name given to certain colloquial words and expressions. Some consider pachuco and its pachuquísmos to be Costa Rica’s second language.
I’m sure our employees had a ball teaching us Pachuco.
A second language
To some, pachuco is a second language of the Ticos. The younger people in Costa Rica use quite a few words that get close to this 2nd language, but it’s not the same. If you can understand the following video, you’re 100% Pachuco. I understand about 40% of it.
Here are some words in Pachuco, if you would like to show off with other pachucos:
Tuanis = very nice, very good
Compita = bro, friend
Paco = policeman
Que es la vara = what’s up, what is this
Furris = terrible, horrible
Al chile = really? seriously?
Harinón = a lot of money
Jetear = not doing anything
Qué jeta = a big mouth
Al despiste = discretely
Un toque = just a moment
Ruliar = sleep
Rajado = incredible
Parla = talk, discussion
Ligar = hooking up people to become a couple
Chasco = a disaster
Brete = job
Me estoy quemando = in need of money
Jama = food
Tucas = legs of a person
Ahorcarse = get married
My recommendation is to not learn pachuco; it’s really hard to get rid of later. You might use pachuco at the wrong time and get into trouble. Try to learn basic Spanish before moving to Costa Rica, it will save a lot of trouble and headaches.
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