Avoiding language barrier issues isn't simply a matter of learning Spanish. You have to know the right kind of Spanish to speak when you’re in Argentina. Argentineans speak what is known as Castilian. This means that there are some differences in the way certain words are pronounced and what their meanings are in comparison to other forms of Spanish.
I’ve created a concise list of words that can be easily misinterpreted in order to help other fellow expats understand and avoid embarrassment during a conversation. This includes slang terms and curse words.
Dale – this means “okay”, “go for it”, or “let’s do it”. It’s also used to tell someone to “GO!”
Omnibus/Colectivo - this term is used to identify a bus. Argentineans don't use the word "guagua" which is commonly heard in Puerto-Rican and Cuban culture.
Pendejo/a - while this term is considered offensive in most Latin American cultures, Argentineans use this word to refer to a child or young adult.
Mina - a street term used to refer to a woman. Its official reference is a landmine or the lead tip of a pencil.
Tipo – used to describe a man (or the term “guy”). It can also be used to refer to the word “type”, as in “a type of color”, (tipo de color).
Pive - a term used to describe a young adult. "Che pive!" is equivalent to the term "Hey kid!"
Bollo - for Argentineans, this term refers to a roll of something like a roll of bread, yeast, or a piece of meat. On the other hand, if you were to say bollo to a Cuban or Puerto-Rican, this term would be a vulgar way of referring to a vagina.
Chocha/o – In Argentina, this term is used to describe yourself or somebody else who is happy (i.e. Estoy chocho! Estoy chocha!, but to other Spanish speaking cultures, it could mean other things. For Puerto Ricans, this word is a vulgar representation of the word vagina.
Quilombo – refers to a huge problem, a disaster, or a hot mess (figuratively speaking).
Concha – Although to some Latin American countries, concha means a shell or a conch, for Argentineans, this word is considered a vulgar way to refer to a vagina. Another equally offensive word that derives from Concha is the word “Conchuda”, which translates as the C word (c*nt) in English.
Queres - means "want". "Vos queres," is an example of how it would come to be used in Castilian. Most Latin American countries would pronounce it as "quieres", with the "i" after the "u". The only time you will see the word written in this fashion in Castilian is if it is written in this form, "Ella quiere (she wants)", or "El quiere (he wants)". Notice that the s at the end is missing at all times. This subtle change is the difference between Castilian and regular Spanish.
Podes – refers to the word can, or it can easily mean can’t depending on how the word is phrased in a sentence. Vos podes (you can), No podes (you can’t). This term is written and pronounced as “Podes” in Argentinean Castilian, whereas in other Spanish speaking countries, it is more common to pronounce the word as “puedes” (notice that the o has been replaced by ue). Argentineans use this version only to pronounce the word “puede” (without the s), and only when using the phrase “puede ser” (can be, or could be), or “el/ella puede” (he/she can).
Sos – Instead of eres. It means “you are” (i.e. sos un medico/you are a doctor)
Jamon - ham (Argentineans don’t say puerco). Pancetta is a cheaper brand of ham sold in many delis.
Palta – Avocado
Pancho – Hot Dog
Pochoclo – Popcorn
Fiaca - Feeling lazy
Huevon – A dumb ass or stupid person
Mango - Slang term used to describe money
Congelador - Freezer
Heladera - Refrigerator (Among Cubans, this is often referred to as Frigidaire)
Forro – Slang term for a condom. It can also be used as an insult, “sos un forro”, which translates to “you’re a condom”, but it has an impact similar to the phrase, “you’re a douche”, even though a douche and a condom aren’t the same thing.
Neumatico – The wheel of a car
Apolillar - Sleep
Julepe – Startled
Seso – Brain
Chiflado/Chiflada – A wack job or crazy person.
Pucho/Puchito – Cigarette butt or a small portion of something
Mamado or Chupado - Refers to someone that is drunk
Coche – Another term for car
Guita - Cash
Trucho – Counterfeit, fake, a knock off
Pelotudo – Idiot
Pito – Used to describe a whistle, but it is also a slang term for a penis.
Jeta – Face
Bombilla – Straw. Argentineans don’t use the word “absorbente” to describe a straw.
Laburar – To work
Computer – Computadora
Laptop – Netbook
USB Flash Drive – Pen Drive
Printer – Impresora
Scan – Escanear
Words Not Used In Argentina
Avoid using words like “Orale”, “Oye”, “guagua”, “Andale”, “Arriba! Arriba!” as these are not words or phrases indigenous to Argentina.
It’s important to keep these subtle differences in mind as they can have a huge impact in your business or social conversations with Argentineans.