11 NECESSARY WORDS TO SURVIVE IN VALENCIA


It is quite usual for regions or provinces to develop their own words and expressions. For locals, this ‘jargon’ makes perfect sense because everyone has the necessary information, linguistic and cultural, to understand them properly.

But this isn’t good news for students of any foreign language because when attending a course, they usually learn the standard and most correct version of it. So, all the expressions we were talking about before don’t usually make it to the books, though it is quite interesting – and advisable – to become familiar with as many of them as possible since they are commonly used by locals.

At AIP Language Institute we know how frustrating it can be for students when they come across with any of these expressions. We thought that it would be of great help for everyone if we prepared a list with common terms and expressions of the eastern area of Spain that may come up in conversation. No more poker faces allowed after going through this list, with the translation and explanation of each word:

  1. CHÉ!The Valencian word par excellence. We Valencians use it when we want to show dissatisfaction, anger, disappointment, happiness… Well, a jack of all trades. But, though it may look like you can use it anytime, including it correctly and at the right moment requires some practice.
  2. NANO/TETE (Dude/brother/bro/brah/sister/sis) – In the capital of the Turia river you can often hear the word ‘nano’ among friends, as a synonym for ‘tío’. Not everyone uses it, it just depends on the neighbourhood you are in. On the other hand, we have ‘tete’/’teta’ that can be used to refer to brothers or sisters, as well as
  3. MONE (Let’s go) – All good things come to an end, we all know that. And here we have this very particular word to say that ‘it’s time to go’. It is a quite inclusive word as, when used, you expect others to come with you rather than leaving lone-wolf style.
  4. AU (Bye) – Lone wolves, this is just the word for you. It may also come with a rhyme: ‘Au cacau’ (= bye peanut). Yes, I know, top-notch poetry. Why would you say ‘adiós’, when you can say ‘au’ and get it over with in a split second. Too many things to get done in Valencia…
  5. CHOPARSE (Get soaked) – It doesn’t rain much in Valencia. We have one of the best climates in Spain and the rain is quite rare. As a result, that thingy known as umbrella isn’t that easily found in the homes of Valencians. So, when it rains, ‘nos chopamos’. That’s to say, we end up soaking wet because of not using an umbrella. This is an interesting word because actually, it doesn’t exist. It is only used in Valencia and the RAE hasn’t included it in the Spanish dictionary.
  6. SERÀ PRECÍS (Is that really necessary?) – This is a phrase that a Valencian would use when he/she doesn’t agree with something that just happened, and he/she wants to make sure that whatever it was, it had a purpose and a meaning. It normally carries irony and rejection to the action itself.
  7. DE CATEGORÍA (Oustanding) – When something is really good, we don’t say that it is á ‘genial’, ‘fantástico’ or ‘espectacular’. We say that it is ‘de categoría’. This expression can be used to describe moods as well as to express how much we like something.
  8. ORXATA (= HORCHATA) – As summer approaches, this drink becomes THE DRINK. It must be taken cold and if complemented with ‘fartons’, it tastes much better. Horchata is to a Valencian, what spinach is to Popeye or the magic potion to Asterix. But for the non-locals, it is a curious drink that either you love or don’t like at all.

Rumour has it that this drink got its name accidentally. A young lady offered a glass of what she called ‘tigernut milk’ to James I, to what he replied: ‘Açò no és llet. Açò és or, xata!’ (‘Esto no es leche. Esto es oro, chata’ = ‘This is not milk. This is gold, chick). Fact or fiction, we all find the idea of such a good-natured king quite amusing.

  1. PENSAT I FET (Said and done) – This is no secret. Best moments usually are those unplanned. And in Valencia, we really like to ‘liarnos la manta a la cabeza’ (= take the plunge) and improvise. We can’t help it – when something is done ‘pensat i fet’ style we automatically give it a place of honour, as we consider it some kind of achievement that makes life more interesting.
  2. LA TERRETA – This is the code name for Valencia. Those who had to emigrate for work usually use this word to refer to their homeland, mostly when feeling homesick and melancholic. Mind your words when talking about the ‘terreta’ in front of Valencians, as they might get a little bit touchy.
  3. TORRÀ (BBQ) – As you may have realized so far, we Valencians are quite special and what most people call ‘barbacoa’, we call it ‘torrà’. So don’t get scared if you are invited to a torrà, as it is something good. Really good. Just say yes.

We’ve brought you these 11 Valencian words/expressions, though many others didn’t make the cut.  It doesn’t matter if you are about to come or if you are already enjoying the city of Valencia, you may find being aware of this list quite handy so that all these terms don’t catch you off guard in the middle of a conversation.

If this wasn’t enough, to make things even easier for you all, we’ve also prepared an infographic that will wonderfully fit as an extra visual help to remember each and every of these 11 words we have just presented.

Make good use of this knowledge and next time you are with Valencians boast about how many local words you know and make a ‘de categoría’ impression. Needless to say, if you need information about Spanish courses, AIP Language Institute doors are always open for those eager to learn.

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Víctor San Juan

Víctor San JuanVíctor San Juan es el responsable de contenidos en la asociación Aprender Español en España en Comunidad Valenciana.

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