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Colombian Spanish

The Colombian Spanish accent is the variation of Spanish language with a multiplicity of accents spoken in Colombia, which have some distinctive features in comparison to the Spanish spoken in Spain and in other countries of Latin America. The Caro y Cuervo Institute in Bogota is the institution in Colombia that promotes the good use of the Spanish language in Colombia.


The pronunciation of "j" is centered in the pharynx, , which is similar to the observed in the Southern Spain dialects.

The pronunciation of "ch" has a pronounced pre-palatal articulation, like in "y," which is similar to Canary Islands Spanish.

The occlusive consonants ("b" or "v"), ("d"), and ("g" or "gu") in general Spanish have allophonic changes when pronounced after other consonant becoming approximants. This phenomenon does not happen in Colombian Spanish, remaining occlusives. For example: the donkey (El burro) is pronounced in Colombia, but in the rest of America and Spain. A notable exception is the region of Narino.


Personal pronouns

The plural second person pronoun "vosotros" and its correspondent verbal forms (-ais/-eis), which is very common in Spain, is considered archaic in Colombia and all other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, and is restricted to ecclesiastic language.

The singular second person pronoun "tu" is widely used in informal speech, while "usted" is used in formal speech. In Bogota, the use of the "tu" is very restricted. Interestingly, even when talking with very close relatives such as parents, siblings or spouses, as a sign of respect, "usted" is used .

Particular forms of pronouns are "vos" (similar to the Argentinian) used in the Paisa region and "sumerce" (literally "your mercy") used in Cundinamarca and Boyaca


In Colombian Spanish, the diminutive forms -ico, -ica are often used in words with a penultimate "t": gato (cat) --> gatico (small cat). This is often seen in Cuban and Costa Rican Spanish.

The diminutive form is also applied to substantives, adjectives, and verbs: corriendo (running) --> corriendito; adverbs: ahora (now) --> ahorita; and prepositions: junto (next to) --> juntico.

Redundant diminutives: when diminutives are applied both to the substantive and the adjective in the same sentence: el chocolate caliente (the hot cocoa) --> el chocolatico calientico.

The emphatic diminutives: when two diminutive forms are applied in the same word, it gives more emphasis to the sentence: For example, with ahora (now), the simple diminutive= ahorita; double diminutive= ahoritica. vayase ahora mismo (get out right now) --> vayase ahoritica mismo (get out right now- emphatically).

Bien (good) simple diminutive= buenecito; double diminutive= buenecitico. El carro esta bueno (The car is in good conditions) --> el carro esta buenecitico (the car is in very good conditions).

Common expressions

Paradoxically, in intra-family speech it is common to address the husband as mijo (short for mi hijo= my son), and the wife as mija" (my daughter); while the sons are called papito (daddy) and the daughters are called mamita (mommy).

Sometimes, sentences are started with an out of place preposition que (that), which denotes a hesitant sense to the sentence. For example: que era para decirte ([that] it was to tell you). que gracias ([that] thank you).

Slang words

Slang talk is frequent in popular culture, specially in the popular barrios in the big cities. For instance, in the paisa region and Medellin subculture, where it is named "Parlache". Nevertheless, usage of slang expressions have been spread outside of their original arenas to become commonly understood countrywide. While some words eventually lose their status as slang, others continue to be considered as such by most speakers and is worth noticing that most of this words if not many are considered vulgar and rude by several people especially in Bogota. In spite of this, the process tends to lead the original users to replace the words with other, less-recognized terms to maintain group identity. Although many scholars describe this kind of language as classless or distasteful, it becomes a linguistic

phenomenon with clear sociological importance.

During the 1980s and 1990s many of these words were popularized by the Colombian media, such as Alonso Salazar's book, No nacimos pasemilla, Victor Gavirias movie, Rodrigo D. No Futuro and many other cultural expressions including soap operas, magazines, news covering, jokes and so.

Some slang terms with literal translation and meaning are:

una y mugre (finger nail and dirt): two peas in a pod

abrirse (to open): to leave

armar videos (to do videos): to lie, cause trouble

caliente (hot): dangerous

camello (camel): job

caspa (dandruff): a badly-behaved person

comerse a alguien (to eat somebody): have sex with a woman

chevere: cool

chimba: Pussy (slang for female genitalia); When it is used as an object of comparison it denotes an extreme attraction to something (attractive/cool); (Example: "Eso es una chimba de carro/chimba de vieja" (that is a cool car/attractive woman)). Its usage is considered obscene, although in cities like Medellin it is used all the time. Another usage would be "Que re Chimba!" - How awesome/cool.

chino: (Chinese): child

chulo: cool or great; widely used

entucar: to make out

fresco (fresh): Don't worry

gonorrea (gonorrhea): evil, loathsome

guevon: literally "big balls" or "lazy" but you would call your buddy this "Ay guevon!"

hacer la tarea (to do homework): have sex

levantarse (to pick up): make a conquest of a woman or man , battery (crime), to beat someone up

ligar (to tie): to give money. to bribe

llave ("key" written wrong): friend

mamando: (breastfeeding): didn't work out, did not come out well.

mamola: no way

mariconadas: joking around (deje las mariconadas - stop joking around)

marica (gay): A term of endearment used among friends

ni por el berraco: no way

nonas: no

paila (saucepan): bad luck, not good.

parce or parcero: largely used as comrade. (corruption of "parcelo", slang for owner of a plot of land (parcela)). Originally used as cell mate (sharing the same plot of land); Its usage derived into: criminal mate. Used only in criminal circles from late 1970s is now used openly in almost every urban center.

perder el ano (to get an F (grade)): to die

pichar: to have sex

pilas (batteries): wake up, watch out

pisarse (to step over): to leave

plata (silver): money

plomo (lead): bullets

ratero (rat associated word): robber

rumbear makeout

sapo (toad): informant, snitch

sisas: yes

tragado (to swallow): to be in love with someone

tombo: policeman

tirar : to have sex

vaina: case, refers to an object or to a complicated situation

vieja (old woman): woman. Ex. Carolina Cortes, it doesn't mean you are old, is just a way to refer to a woman, not an insult, but not polite

vientos o maletas? (winds or suitcases): how are you? (Note that this comes from "bien o mal"? (good or bad?), but it was changed to different words to make it funnier)

taladro (drill) a man who has sex with boys

Colombian Spanish dialects

Some of the most frequent regional dialects in the Colombian Spanish are:

Paisa Dialect

(see Paisa region)

Paisa dialect is spoken in the Colombian coffee production areas, such as Antioquia, Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas. Paisa people speak Spanish with a distinct Castilian sounding "S".
Paisa uses vos for the second person singular pronoun.

Rolo Dialect (Bogotanian Spanish)

The Rolo dialect of Bogota, also called cachaco and the related Cundiboyacense dialect, are spoken in the higlands of Altiplano Cundiboyacense. Some people from Bogota pride themselves saying that it's the purest form of Spanish, due to the supposed lack of intonation when it is spoken.

Important personalities with great command of the Spanish language, such as Fidel Castro, have expressed their admiration for the quality of the Spanish spoken in Bogota.

Caribbean Dialect

The Caribbean or Coastal (costeno) dialect is spoken by the Caribbean people in the Caribbean Region of Colombia. It is characterized by the suppression of the terminal /s/, and the /s/ followed by consonant, for example: cohta instead of costa. It presents great similarity to that spoken in Cuba and other Caribbean territories.

Valley Dialect

This dialect is spoken in the valley of the Cauca River between the Occidental and Central cordilleras. In Cali, the capital of Valle del Cauca there is also a lot of vos used instead of tu. Ois, mira, and ve are terms also commonly used.

Andean Dialect

The andean or pastuso dialect is spoken in the southwest area of the country.

Opita Dialect

The dialect spoken mostly in the departments of Tolima and Huila mostly in the central and southern parts of the Magdalena River Valley.

Santander Dialect

The dialect spoken mostly in the northeastern part of the country in the departments of Santander and Santander del Norte, bordering Venezuela.

Eastern plains or Llanero Dialect

The dialect spoken in this region covers a vast area of the country with less population density. It is spoken in the eastern plains of the country from the Cordillera Oriental (eastern mountain range of the Andes) and into Venezuela. It has a characteristic influence of indigenous languages with specific tonalities at each side of the Colombian and Venezuelan borders.

Choco or pacific dialect

This dialect extends beyond the Choco department throughout the pacific coast and has marked African influence. Characteristically the /s/ in mid-words or at the end of words is similar in use to the Caribbean dialect where it is frequently omitted. The -n at the end of words sounds like -ng. The /d/ is replaced by /r/ in some words and the -l and -r are inverted in others in a similar way as occurs in several Spanish accents spoken in the Antilles.

Island Dialect

This is the dialect spoken in the Islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina in the Colombian Caribbean. It is marked by a mixture of Caribbean Spanish with English language tones.

External links



Jergas de habla hispana Spanish dictionary specializing in slang and coloquial expressions, featuring all Spanish-speaking countries, including Colombia.

iGoNative Common Colombian expressions and Slang words

Colombian Spanish pronunciation

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Colombian Spanish

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