Nicaraguan Teenagers Explain Their Terms


We were delighted to receive this e-mail the other day: "My English class of teenage Nicaraguans read the columns in the Monitor with some of the teen language of other countries," wrote Grant Mauricio Gallup, an Episcopalian priest in Managua. He has a daily subscription to the Monitor, and was referring to articles that ran on The Home Forum page about the words teenagers use around the world. (See June 25, July 2, and July 30.) "They wanted me to send you these, which are from their own usage." Here they are:

Bestial! Salvaje! Mortal! (bess-TYAHL! sal-VAH-hey! mor-TAHL!): Literally, "Bestial!" "Savage!" "Mortal!" All of them are exclamations for something favorable and good. Similar to North American teen usage, in which "bad" means good. [Editor's note: Mortel! is also French teen slang for something good.]

Caballo (cah-BAI-yo): Literally, horse. A pair of pants.

Cabra (CAH-brah): Literally, goat. Slang for "bicycle."

Cachimbo (cah-CHEEM-boh): A long-handled ladle; the slang meaning is "a lot of" something. "There's a cachimbo of soda in the fridge."

Cruz (croos): Literally, a cross. It means "T-shirt," because of its Tau-cross shape.

Lana (LAH-nah): Literally, wool. Also slang for "money."

Legal (lay-GAHL): Literally the equivalent of the English word. Here it is used to respond to "How are you?" Meaning, "just fine."

Luz (loos): Literally, light. Money. "I can't go; I don't have any luz."

Potassio (poh-TASS-ee-oh): Literally, potassium. Used for "nice, beautiful, excellent," to describe a person, event, or thing.

Rebanando la cuajada: (ray-bahn-NAHN-doh lah kwah-HAH-thah): Literally, "slicing up the cheese." (Cuajada is a popular fresh cheese.) What United States teens might call "shooting the breeze." As in: "What are you doing?" "We've been rebanando la cuajada."

Tuani (too-WAH-nee): Derived from tranquilo, which means "tranquil, calm." It is used in response to "How are you?" Something like "cool." It is used for "nice" in describing a thing, event, or person.

*Contributed by Bayardo Leiba, Victor Mayorga, Lester Parajon, Edwin Roberts, and Harold Urbina.

Would your class like to submit a 'teenspeak' glossary? You can e-mail it to me at:

Or mail it to: The Christian Science Monitor, The Home Forum Page, One Norway St., Boston, Mass. 02115.

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