Dos and Don’ts

Eye Contact: “Don’t be intimidated when Argentines look you directly in the eye in public places or by the way Argentine men tend to stare at women.”

BBQ Roles: “If you are invited to an asado (an Argentine BBQ), know that if you are a man, you can just sit back and relax. The women will set the table and prepare the salads, snacks, and desserts. The men are in charge of the meat, and everything that goes on the grill.”

National Pride: “Argentines are proud of their country, their people, and their customs. Be patient, because anyone you meet likely will ask you where you’re from, why you’ve come to Argentina, what you think of their country, if you think their women are beautiful, if you think the meat is good, and which soccer team you root for.”

RSVPs: “Don’t expect a quick response to an invitation (to eat, go out, etc.). Argentines are very informal, especially young people, and will often respond at the last minute—if at all.”

Tea Etiquette: “If you are drinking mate (a traditional tea-like drink), always drink all the mate you are served. If you say gracias, (thank you) it means you don’t want to be served any more.”

Kissing: “It’s very common for the Argentines, especially women, to greet and bid farewell with a kiss. No matter how many people are at a party or friendly get-together, the most appropriate thing to do when you arrive is to greet each person with a kiss. Men can shake hands, but male friends often give each other a kiss, a hug, or a pat on the back.”

Nicknames: “Argentines often use nicknames that recall physical traits. Don’t be surprised or offended if you have dark features (skin, hair, or eyes, etc.) and people call you ‘negro’ (black). They often use nicknames like ‘gordo/a’ (fat); ‘flaco/a’ (skinny) etc.”

—Macrena Pereyra Olazábal and Soledad Olaciregui of Maneras Argentinas provide expertise on Buenos Aires culture.

Phrase Book

Valentina Noblia and Alicia Carrizo, linguistic professors at the University of Buenos Aires, provide expertise on Buenos Aires lingo.

Che: Argentines use this familiar, emphatic term to get the attention of the listener. As in “Che, what time do you have to leave?” Pronounced chay.

Vos: You, informal second person; Argentines use ‘vos’ instead of the standard Spanish ‘tu’ Pronounced vohss.

¿Qué talco?: This combination of ‘¿Qué tal?’ and ‘¿Como estás?’ means ‘how are you?’ Argentines also often use ‘¿Qué haces?’ and ‘Cómo andas?’ Pronounced kay TAL-ko.

Chau: Good-bye; much more commonly heard in Argentina than “adios.” Pronounced chow.

Kioskos: “Kiosks” or newsstands and newsstand-like convenience stores that sell magazines, candy, drinks, and other knick-knacks. Pronounced kee-OH-skos.

Chinos: The word literally means Chinese people, but this is Argentine slang for the often Asian-owned (not necessarily Chinese) grocery stores throughout the city. Pronounced CHEEN-ohs.

Plata, guita, or mosca: Money. Pronounced PLAH-tah, GEE-tah, and MO-ska.

Morfi: Food; morfar: eat, chow down. Pronounced MORE-fee and MORE-far.

Pancho: Hot dog. Pronounced PAHN-cho.

Re: verb, adjective, or noun: Argentines often add “re” to the beginning of words for emphasis. “Es re-linda” or “She’s really pretty.” Pronounced RAY.

Cacho: Something big or impressive. “¡Qué cacho de auto!” Pronounced KAH-cho.

Cachito: A little or a little bit. For example: “Esperá un cachito” or “Wait a sec.” Pronounced kah-CHEE-toe.

Birra: Another word for cerveza, or beer. Pronounced BEE-rah, with a trill on the r.

Colectivo, bondi, or micro: Bus. Pronounced collect-TEEV-o, BOHN-dee, and MEE-crow.

Tipo/Mina: Informal ways to refer to a “guy” (tipo) or “woman” or “chick” (tipa/mina); Pronounced TEE-po, TEE-pa, and MEE-na.


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