Languages Spoken in El Salvador

The official language of El Salvador is Spanish. The majority of the population of El Salvador speak Spanish and many resources have indicated that El Salvador is linguistically more Spanish than Spain itself. While Spanish is widely spoken in El Salvador, there are other languages spoken by Salvadorans.

The languages are not limited to, but include the following:

  • Lenca – one of the dialects of the native Mesoamerican language; spoken in areas of southwestern Honduras and east of the Lempa river during the Spanish defeat of Central America in 16th century
  • Pipil or Nawat – a language first spoken by the Pipils in western part of the country; Pipils and persons of the country normally refer to the language as Nawat
  • Q’eqchi’ – a dialect of the Mayan languages; frequently spoken in the parts of Guatemala and Belize
  • Cacaopera – an extinct language that goes back to the Misumalpan family, spoken before in the area of Morazán
  • Nahaut– spoken by Native Americans in the Western region; native languages spoken in the state are part of the social custom and are to be preserved, recognized and respected; still spoken by elderly persons
  • El Salvadoran sign language

In comparison to the formal Spanish language, the local Spanish dialect spoken in El Salvador is Caliche. Caliche comprises of local slang terms and phrases that persons use that are not formally a part of the Spanish language. Caliche is especially spoken with children and persons residing in rural areas.

caliche, the real Spanish
bicho – little kid, sometimes derrogotory, like “brat” or “punk”.guacal – large bowl, often used in the large cement sinks used to bath with or wash dishes/clothing with.chucho – dogni chicha ni limonada – not one or the other or neither bad nor good.entre comagua y elote – somewhere in the middle; okay. Usually used as a response to “How are you?”bolado – thing; object.chunche – thing; object.cipote – young boy or girl.

champa – a ramshackle shelter or shanty.

galán – cool, excellent, great!

tacuazín – opossum. It is often eaten in the more rural areas.

cuzuco – armadillo. also eaten in more rural areas.

pisto – money.

achiote – small red pepper that is ground and mixed with tortilla dough to make a dark orangish-reddish color.

chuco – dirty

chivo – cool. awesome.puchica – oh my gosh! holy cow!cosas serias – wow! oh my gosh!las chilipucas – foodguaro – alcohol, usually cheap, strong junk.pupilaje – apartment. housing.bayunco – rowdy, immature, crazy.choyado – similar to bayunco.

alguashte – ground pumpkin seeds. They are usually sprinkled on fruits or vegetables and sometimes served in other dishes.

chulo – cute.

dundo – stupid or dumb. (note that the word estúpido is very offensive and should never be used unless you’re really looking for a fight).

chueco – crooked or bent. Can also be used to describe somebody crooked, messed up, disobedient, etc…

pepenar – to clean scraps or pieces of something off the ground. Most commonly used in coffee harvesting, when the beans have been picked off the bushes and the people go and “pepenar” the remaining coffee off the ground.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s