05 Mar, 2013 | Bolivian Express


In this section you will find English translations to some of the Spanish, Aymara and Quechua terms used in our articles. 

Feel free to contribute to this page with your own definitions in the comments section. 

Aguas vertientes: Spring Waters

Ajayu: Soul, Spirits

Altéños: Citizens of El Alto

Altiplano: The Andean high plateau extending through the western region of Bolivia

Ají: Local term for combination of spices and hot peppers from the Capsicum family. Can be ground dry or prepared in a paste

Anticuchos: Sliced and skewered beef hearts, a traditional late-night meal in the Andes, typically served with potatoes and a spicy peanut aji

Anticuchera: Seller of skewered and thinly-sliced cow hearts

Aptaphi: Andean buffet. It is a meal collected and shared in community, being it a group of friends, family or a larger organization

Aruskipasipxañanaka: ‘It is my personal knowledge that it is necessary for all of us, including you, to make the effort to communicate’

Ayllu: Political, social, economic, and administrative unit of the Andes

Bolsita: ‘little bag’, a common term to denote the soft plastic bags in which drinks are sold across the city.

Bulto: Bundle

Camba: Colloquial term for someone from the eastern lowlands of Bolivia, more specifically from Santa Cruz

Campesino: Working native of a rural area

Campo: Countryside

Centavo: Cent

Ch’alla: Traditional ritual to bless a place

Chicha: A drink made out of corn

Chifa: Chines restauran

Chiflera: Women who sell medicinal herbs

Chiwiña: Aymara word for ‘meeting place’

Chola: Indigenous woman in traditional dress and bowler hat 

Cholita: Affectionate diminutive for chola

Chuño: Freeze-dried product obtained by exposing a variety of potatoes to very low night tempera- tures, freezing them, and subsequently expos- ing them to the intense sunlight of the day

Chuyma: Aymara word for heart

Copa América: A football tournament held every four years in which 12 national teams from across South America come head to head

Comida rápida: Fast food

Crema de leche: Cream skimmed from milk

Criollo: Used in Colonial times to denote a person born in South America from European parents

Dinero: Money

Estatua viviente: Living statue

Extranjero/a: Foreigner

Extraño/a: Strange

Fácil: Easy

Farmacia: Pharmacy

Feria 16 de julio: El Alto Market, said to be the largest fleamarket in South America

Fiesta: Celebration

Gota de leche: Drop of milk

Guapa: Term used to refer to an attractive woman

Guato/huato/wato: Colloquial term for shoelace

Hermana: Sister

Hogares de niños: Orphanage

Huayño: Melancholy rhythm played using wind instruments, popular across the the Andean

Huevitos: Small eggs

Indigenista catarista: An activist for indigenous culture

Indio: Pejorative term to refer to socio-ethnic indigenous people, sometimes appropriated by indigenistas

Institutos: Educational institutes (in the context of the piece)

Islas flotantes: Floating islands

Joven: Young men

Kallawaya: Traditional healer

K’ehua: Aymara word describing neither man nor woman 

Kullawada: An Aymara traditional dance

Lancha: Motor boat

Llajwa: Spicy Bolivian sauce

Loco: Crazy

Lunes: Monday

Lustrabotas: Shoeshine boy or girl

Mallku: Meaning condor, it is the name given to community leaders in Aymara societies

Mate de coca: Coca tea

Matrimonio: Wedding

Mesero: Waiter

Micro: Bus

Morenada: Afro-Bolivian music from the Andes

Munaña (Querer), Waylluña (Amar): Love. In Spanish, there is a difference between Querer which is ‘To want’ and the stronger term Amar ‘To love’

Paceño/a: Of or relating to the city of La Paz

Pachakuti: Time/space upheaval

Pajpakus: Derived from the quechua word for owl, it is the name given to wandering salesmen renowned for their oratory skills

Parche natural: A natural herb paste

Personaje: Character

Pesq'e con leche y ahogado: Quinoa based dish with milk and a rich and spicy sauce

Pijcheo: The ceremonial chewing of coca leaves

Pollera: Long, flowing one-piece skirts, sometimes embroidered, worn by cholitas

Pongo: Indigenous domestic servant

Preste: Big party offered normally by a wealthy member of a community, most of the time it is part of a larger celebration such as Gran Poder festival

Productores: Reproducers

Puertita: Small door

Rebaja: Discount

Salto: Jump

Servir: Servirse is a colloquial expression in Spanish which refers to the act of someone helping themselves to something

Sonrisa: Smile

Sirwiñaku: Probation period before marriage in which the bride-to-be lives for some time in the house of her in-laws

Talleres: Workshop

Tarijeños: From the city of Tarija

Taxista: Taxi driver

Toma: Take

Totora: A reed found in Lake Titicaca, used to build the floating islands

Uña de gato: Woody vine found in the jungle used to cure diseases such as cancer

Valle: Valley

Wawa: Aymara term for baby or small child

Willakuti: 'Return of the sun,' in Aymara

Yapa: Bonus goods obtained from a seller a part of the haggling process

Yatiri: Traditional healer


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