Handy Costa Rican expressions
Spanish is the native language spoken in Costa Rica. As you travel Latin America, you will quickly pick up that all business dealings, local television and most other forms of media are exclusively conducted and written in Spanish.
It pays to know the language of the country you are visiting, as being stuck in a foreign land with little knowledge of the national dialect can cause difficulties no matter where you travel. Presented below are a few choice phrases and translations of local sayings that will stand you in good stead as you travel around the beautiful country of Costa Rica.
Ma’e [pronounced ‘My’]: This is similar to the English word ‘dude’, yet it literally translates to something along the lines of ‘idiot’. The Ticos [local name for the friendly Costa Rican folk] will use Ma’e constantly in their everyday conversations.
Tuanis [pronounced ‘Too nice’]: This is the slang word for ‘OK’ or ‘cool.’ A local version of the English phrase ‘too nice’.
Pura vida [pronounced ‘poora veeda’]: accurately translates to ‘pure life,’ and is an expression which is common to Costa Rica. Like the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’, pura vida is a chameleon and can transform itself into whatever it needs to be, dependant on the situation. You can say hello, express pleasure or say ‘yes’ all with one simple word.
La dejó el tren : A fairly odd saying but a classic for those nights at the bar in your Costa Rica villa . This refers to a lady who has never married, in other words someone who has ‘missed the train’.
Some great phrases you should use out of politeness as you travel Latin America:
buenos días: good morning
buenas tardes: good afternoon
buenas noches: good evening/night
Por favour: Please
Muchas Gracias: Thank you, very much.
no hablo español: I don’t speak Spanish.
¿Habla usted inglés?: do you speak English?
The Tico’s have a diverse, colourful slang called ‘pachuco’ or ‘pachuquismo’ and this is considered a friendlier way of speaking. The staff at your Costa Rica lodge will use many of these phrases presented below. Replying back to them in their native tongue by saying Muchas Gracias is a great way to thank them for the friendly service they provide.
Spanish is a diverse and complex language that can be mastered in a relatively short period of time, despite its little intricacies. The friendly staff members located at your Poas accommodation are mostly all bilingual and will do their best to communicate with you in both English and Spanish.
If someone is not doing their job correctly, then they are an aparecío el peine, a lazy worker.
On the other hand, if someone is doing a great job by being responsive and punctual then one can respond by saying that they are agarrarlas al vuelo – on the ball/alert
Adiós mis flores, it was good while it lasted. The perfect saying when things do not work out for the best, but you need to keep a happy outlook.
A cada chancho le llega su día or everyone’s time will come. The perfect comeback to any insult. True Costa Rican insults are far too ‘colourful’ to be mentioned on a family site such as this.
If someone strikes your fancy at say, your Costa Rica jungle lodge and you would like to pay them a compliment, then it is best to say to them that they are Ser un popi, which means a pretty girl or a handsome man.