I started learning Spanish when I went to the Basque country as a 20-year-old. Before I arrived, my vocabulary was limited to "Hola" (Hi), "Caca" (Poop) and "Cerveza" (Beer). Even if those words can be quite useful, a language course was indeed needed.
Although Spanish and Swedish grammar are rather different from one another, I naively thought that it probably would be a walk in the park to learn the language.
I don't know how many times I said "¡Tengo calor!" "I am hot!" (Swedes in general have a fetish to small talk about the weather) instead of saying "It is hot today, isn't?" when speaking to the cashier at the supermarket.
Nonetheless, I was able to make progress. After a while I could actually communicate with people (without saying "I am hot"), and when my six months of studies had come to an end, I went to Peru to volunteer at an orphanage. During that time I learned how to forget some of what I had picked up in the Basque country: it was not custom to lisp when speaking and I did not have to use the vosotros conjugation. I also adopted a lot of new words (chévere quickly turn out to be a favorite).
It was in Peru that I started to realize how differently Spanish can be spoken depending on which country you are in. When I went to Bolivia for studies, and later on to Nicaragua for work, it became even clearer.
Nowadays, I do speak Spanish quite well. Recently, after talking with a Bolivian woman for a while, she burst out: "You talk like a Nica!" and I have to say that it was a proud moment for me. Until then I had not realized that my Spanish is no longer a cocktail of influences from different countries, but in the process of becoming "nicafied".
Here are five expressions that I consciously or unconsciously have adopted into my vocabulary so far. Feel free to correct me if my definitions of the words are wrong.
Hasta las tapas
Translated literally it would mean something like to be up to your mouth with something. Nevertheless, it seems that the most common way of using is in alcohol related contexts. For example: "Yesterday I drank until I was hasta las tapas", “I got home hasta las tapas”, “I got hasta las tapas at the bar”.
Usually I think about eggs when I hear this phrase (especially when I am hungry), but that is not really the meaning of it. It means that you have to do something by (voluntary) force. For example: "I have to, a huevo, send my blog post before Friday !"
A huevo can also be use to express strong agreement or willingness to do something someone just stated or asked about, as in “You going to the Juan Luis Guerra concert tonight? “– “A huevo!”
Since huevo means egg, I was kind of hoping that the phrase was referring to women's ovaries - connecting strength and force to a female body part for once. However, that's not the case. Huevos = another word for balls.
Púchica is a censored version of p*ta (wh*re). For many reasons, I am not a fan of using p*ta as a swear word. Nonetheless, the word is not as strong as it seems and has a different connotation in this case. For example, it can mean "crap!", or “darn/damn”. Like those words, it is used to emphasize a particular situation: “Púchica, this line is taking forever”. I thought I had been using this word in my daily talk correctly, until my boyfriend told me (while laughing evilly) that I always say "Púchiga" with a strong G. Fail.
¡Mmmm! (The Nica sound)
This is one of my favorite expressions. As I have interpreted it, "mmmm" is a sound that you can use when you are displeased with something. You can also use it when you are impatient. As you can hear - it is useful. The "mmm" is done with a certain high pitched melody. However, it seems that I am totally incapable of "saying" it right. If I would describe my "mmmm!" with words I would say that it sounds like an angry bull that has just swallowed a potato. Not pretty.
Dale (pues) –pronounced pweh
This is the first Nicaraguan phrase that I started to use - and I love it! It's more or less a word you can use to say "Okey then!", but it also works when saying "Come on!" or "Let's do this!" or “Go for it”.
"Can we meet at eight?""¡Dale!"
Short, easy, useful.
Do you have example of other expressions that are commonly used in Nicaragua?