Speak like a Canarian

By 19 julio, 2019Blog

Our very own, and Gran Canaria born and bred, Aída Yánez teaches you how to speak Spanish like a true Canarian!

The land where people say mi niño (my boy) or mi niña (my girl) to everyone, whether you’re a child or an adult. The land where people greet each other saying: ooooh! ¿Que pasó? (Hey! What’s going on?). The land where people seem to do everything slowly, with pachorra (taking their time). The land where people are aplatanaos (distracted, in their world) and people love plátanos canarios (canarian bananas, that is, tasty bananas with black dots) as much as the minions love bananas. Yes. That’s the Canary Islands. And that’s where CoworkingC (Coworkig Canary Islands) aka CwC is.

Location & differences between Spain


Although The Canary Islands are geographically next to Africa they belong to Spain. The language spoken in the Canarian Archipelago is Spanish, but with some differences:

Canarians use Ustedes instead of Vosotros for the second plural person.

They omit the final s of the words. They say ‘Graciaa’ instead of Gracias.

Islanders have also the Canarian dialect, that is, their own words or expressions, which even Spanish people won’t understand. And did you know that the Canary Islands have a lot of Latin American and British influences? In fact, in Gran Canaria, you can find names of streets, neighbourhoods, or words that come from the British.


Words from the British


Bisne: a successful business. Comes from the English word Business.

Queque: a sponge cake with a hole in the middle. It comes from the English word cake.

Naife: result of the word knife, refers to a type of knife, the Canarian knife. The ranchers and peasants made use of this utensil especially in banana cultivation.

Fos: word to express bad smelling. It can stem from the English word faugh.

Quinegua: is a kind of potato and it comes from the potato brand King Edward.


Canarian Words 


Guagua: bus. When you go to a bus station in the Canary Islands you will see “Estación de guaguas” and not “Estación de buses”.

¡Chacho!: it comes from Muchacho and it’s a word used to show surprise or to draw attention

¡Ños!, ¡Oss!, ¡Chos!, ¡Yas!: Similar expressions and all of them express the same feeling: surprise. In English could be translated as “wow”. E.g. ¡Ños! ¡Que guay! (Wow! That’s so cool!)

Jilorio: hunger, starvation. E.g. Tengo un jilorio… (I’m hungry)

Ñoño: toe. While in the rest of Spain you’d say dedo del pie, in the Canary Islands they use a funnier word, “Ñoño”.

Enralao: to become extremely glad or kind of crazy

Pibe/Piba: dude/chick. E.g. Piba, estás toda buena. (Chick! You’re so hot)

Tenderete: party, gathering of people having fun. This word is also the name of a Canarian Tv program about music and culture from the Canaries.

Pelete/Calufa: Pelete means very cold and Calufa very hot.

Bienísimo: very good.

Cholas: flip flops


Canarian Insults


Tolete: clumsy, dumb

Machango: it could refer to a toy but the insult meaning is asshole, bastard.

Bobomierda: fool, silly

Totorota: silly, simple and stupid person

Papafrita: literally fried potato but the meaning is silly.


Canarian Expressions


Sale pallí/Salpica pallá: go away!

Se me fue el Baifo: I completely forgot. The equivalent in Spanish is se me fue la olla or la bola.

¡Estás enchochao!: You’re so in love!

Eres un puntal: You’re a good guy/girl.

Ten fundamento: Be careful/Be responsible. Commonly use when children are going to do something and the mother or grandmother advises them to be careful.

¡Me voy de Belingo!: I’m going to party

¡Arrayate un millo!: get lost!

Al golpito: slowly, with no hurry and little by little


That’s it for now, although there is so much more. If you want to learn more Canarian…

Café Ortega has a whole Canarian dictionary in their sugar packages. Check them to discover Canarian words or expressions and their meaning.

Go to a HandyVisits dynamic walking tour.

Ask for the Spanish lessons at CoworkingC.