No one can live for very long without getting a nickname in Chile. Usually very descriptive and pretty accurate——sometimes not very flattering so you hoped you got a good one. Don’t think that as tourist visiting Chile for a few days you don’t get a nickname but as just a passerby, you won’t know or hear what it is———kitchen staff, maids, and any regulars you come across for your few days will have one for you.
I got mine pretty quick and the amazing thing honestly was that through out my years in Chile, and from one end to the other it was the same nickname——its not like anyone called ahead of where I was going to tell Chileans there, like some underground network, that “El Joven” was coming. I think its a universal gift of observation and a common vision they have for who people are at their core———maybe similar for how the italian mafia name each other for traits they show up with. Always very accurate if not pretty clever and direct you in what that person is about without knowing too much from who they are. Unfortunately, if you are called out with whatever nickname you get, there is no changing it——you just get what you get and its forever.
Gordo or “fatty” if you are a little plump, Napo or “Napoleon” for someone that is bossy, Pecos or “freckles” if you have them, if you personify someone that appears as someone famous, you will be “Sammy” for “Sammy Davis Jr.” or flaco if you are skinny, or nubes or “clouds” if you are tall, maybe Pelota or “ball” if your head is round, Pelado if you are bald, Piernas if you have nice legs or have long legs, Palo if you have a funny or unusual face———you get the idea.
Now there are other non-directed nicknames for Chilean to Chilean where they want to communicate not knowing the person directly and someone you are unlikely to come across again, Loco, guevon, jefe, mi cabo or mi sarjento——usually while talking with a carabinero——when done effectively, my ccorporal or my sargeant, is purposely assigning a rank higher than they are in an attempt to acknowledge the carabinero’s “obvious” superiority----and get out of a ticket or other issue.
There are generalized nicknames or maybe better called, a moniker, to describe social types across Chilean society——so say you buy jewelry, scarf or hat off the street and some asks where you got it——“Esa artesa por alli en la equina——it really means more than “hippie” and is for women only. A quico or quica would be an entitled wealthy snob of a person, male or female of any age——usually also identified by that special accent they have. Carabineros are “Pacos” but never to their place——named I think by Condorito comic book character as very Carabinero depicted goes by the name of “Paco.” el viejo and la vieja are obvious. “Negro” was for anyone with a dark complexion and not taken in anyway as an affront——would be common for a wife to refer to her husband as “Negro.” “Jubilado” (retired) would be any middle aged guy, well dressed and while not poor, but common in slacks, a buttoned shirt and sweater with a knitted cap——somebody sitting on a park bench in this case or ambling about and in no hurry to get anywhere.
Of course “Milico” was common during this time to describe not a Carabinero but army guy——no difference in conscript, sergeant or officer——could be used for anyone in military dress or “andandando como civil” or in civilian dress——a certain type of clothes, all pressed, and a severe haircut and shaved. If you went to a barbershop and they asked what you wanted you could say “como malico” and you would have very short hair. Women carabineros were called “tortugas maquilladas” because with their stylized caps they looked like a turtle. “Me frego esa tortuga maguillada con un parte, guevon, como lo voy a pagar?"
There was fleto and maricon----now these could be controversial in today’s world but in Chile at the time, no big deal——fleto, literally meaning gay but would be referenced as an effeminate male and maricon as “fag” or “queer”——typically it would be in reference to someone you had an issue with——so a salesmen that caused you trouble or a slow walker in the crosswalk——a maricon would be shouted out to someone that cut you off or almost crashed into you——fleto, not so much fighting words but maricon definitely would be if it was heard or they could get at you. Puto and Puta———not really used alone in this sense of a moniker----unless combined in the instance of "puto marion!"-----apart from that, Puto or Puta, more of a profession so not really a moniker. Can’t think of any other social nicknames right now, can anyone else?——there was the typical “ladron, lanza, and others but again more of a profession.
Now “flaite” is a more recent word and references what in modern Chile had been a “roto.” To be clear a “roto” would be someone like a hobo and unemployed and came about I think in the 20’s and solidified in the 30’s with the social unrest and unemployment. Mostly harmless, the roto was poor and typically in groups would be on strike and kind of mobbish——not necessarily criminal. The flaite came about as a result of time spent in jail. Not only an accent in identifying them but also a code of dress, jewelry, grooming (the soccer mullet) as well as their own vocabulary——really it comes down to something they could display to others in order to illustrate (in an obvious way and at first unspoken) their criminal background. Developed mostly in jail and then on the street, once free——maybe it could be compared to the cockney accent in London although not all cockneys were criminals for sure——so as flaites returned to street life, maybe returning to jail and bringing with them street cred——a definite advantage in jail and separating them apart from lesser non-career criminals——over a short time it has become a regular low class accent, criminal or not, that helps them make their way.
On to “Gringo!”———now with my experience in Mexico, Gringo was an insult——in Chile, not at all. Took me awhile to adjust to it but after awhile I knew it was not necessarily something to be upset about——Now “Gabacho” which essentially meant “Whitey” or maybe “Invader” was a term not used except for an insult——have to be careful with that one especially “Gabacho Culiado” which translates to “f**king Whitey”———this was bad. Now in terms of people close to you, it changed to something affectionate at times and spoken say if you won a bet or scored a goal over a Chilean-----maybe an off way of saying "good job or you got me asshole!"
“Lukas” a cartoonist of the time, published a daily cartoon on the third page of “El Mercurio” at the time———mostly social commentary with observations on everything from the curfew, food prices, carabineros, driving, married life, boyfriend & girlfriend, crime, family time, holidays, the international scene, money issues, sports, work life in all aspects. An Italian immigrant, he lived in Vina or Valpo, had a gift for not only capturing the Chilean character in a drawing but also in language and commentary but also the view of all Chileans——good source and fun read for understanding Chile——after his death, a cartoonist by the name of “Jimmy Smitts” (I think that was his name?) took over and while good, not as good as Lukas——maybe hard to find Lukas cartoons on the internet but he did publish books with his cartoons, so a second hand book shop would be a good spot if not extended editions and compilations of his work.
In the word of piropos——traditionally a comment made on the street, almost exclusively said by a man to a woman, as a form of flirting with no real hope of reaction on the part of the woman and nearly certain with no reaction or any kind of receptive attitude. Usually pretty clever and made up on the spot, they are generally pretty funny and while it may only be a covered smile the flirter will never see it. Many Chilean women told me it was common for them to share with other Chilenas the piropos of the day. Many Chilean woman I knew would actually be a little down if they didn’t get a piropo in the day——maybe a certain pride they garnered someone’s attention. Sometimes very suggestive and on occasion even vulgar but mostly just clever and seemed to be composed on the spot inspired by some aspect of the woman’s appearance at that moment.
I have to reiterate that a piropo is not meant as a pick-up line as you would find in the United States but just a one or two line poem meant just for that woman at that time and on that day. I have never uttered a piropo because just not my thing but also I think a piropo on the part of a non-chilean would be taken as an offense and would most likely generate a quick worded response by a Chilean woman. I’d say there is a range of Chilean men socially that are allowed the convenience of using the piropo. Its important to point out as well, piropos are best delivered where only the target can hear it and not shouted across the street———meant not to embarrass directly but to show appreciation and vent a secret naughty desire the male is wishing to express and not able to do officially and unpunished anywhere else.
I can only think of one that I heard on the street right now “If you were a piece of candy, I’d eat you up,” and pretty innocent at that. There are dozens of classic ones and adjusted for the moment which made it pretty comical to overhear.
Edited 10-15-19------Thought of another nickname and a good one------Chascon or Chascona, which roughly translates to "scruffy"----maybe a little because the person is just taking care of themselves but mostly their general look----a girl or boy student at the best of Chilean schools could be called Chascon or Chascona for their overall unkept appearance.
Thought of another one-----lolo and lola-----a young guy or gal maybe between the ages of 17 to 24----youthful and say dressed in moderately fashionable clothes to very fashionable-----probably comes from pololo or polala which means "boyfriend or girlfriend. Definitely a general term or moniker for describing someone not known to you and not an individual nickname.
****I will often add points and edit posts----so readers might not go back and read a post and will miss details-----from now on when I edit a post I will note it with several "********" at the top of the entry-----which will probably mean all of them before I am done!