by Zoe Baillargeon, March 12, 2018 – – MATADOR NETWORK
YES, we may be right above Mexico and are frequently confused for being part of Mexico, but New Mexico is its own separate entity – – including our language. New Mexicans use a colorful lexicon of Spanglish terms and expressions (some of which we don’t even fully understand), but one thing’s for sure: if you know these 18 expressions when you come to visit, it’s gonna be “all sick, huh?”
- “I know, huh?”
We say this at the end of sentences all the time. It means exactly what it sounds like, but must be delivered in a monotone voice.
- “Orale wey…”
This expression (which we usually say at the beginning of a sentence) could mean literally anything. Seriously. Even we couldn’t explain it if you asked.
Feel free to use this interjection liberally to express fear, excitement, disappointment, agreement, whatever. “Eeee, I just got off work.” “Eeee, this green chile is so good!”
- “…or what?”
Tack this onto the end of any question for that little extra bit of frustrated emphasis. “Are we going to Blake’s or what?” “Will you marry me or what?” “Can we leave now or what?”
- “It’s all sick, huh?”
Oh yeah, we’re all about this dated ’80s slang.
- “Red, green, or Christmas?”
If you’re asked this in a restaurant, no, Santa is not about to jump out. We mean do you want red chile, green chile, or both (Christmas) on your meal (and if you want neither, get out).
- “Do you want a Coke?”
By this, we mean literally any kind of soft drink.
- “Welcome to the Land of Entrapment.”
Tourists call it the land of Enchantment, we call it the land of Entrapment because we can never leave (not that we really want to. I mean, where else are we gonna get Hatch chile?)
- “Welcome to the Land of Enhancement.”
Once you see all the never-ending road work, you’ll understand.
- “What are the New Mexican vowels? E, I, O, U, A.”
Probably one of our all-time favorite jokes. (Eeee! I owe you, eh?) We have definitive vowel preferences.
- “A la maquina!”
A handy term to use in place of an expletive when trying to express astonishment.
- “Land of mañana”
If we can do it tomorrow (even if we can’t), we will.
Ah, the quintessential end of sentence modifier. Think like Canadians, but sans Canadian accent. “We’re heading to the movies, eh.”
- “Duke City”
We mean Albuquerque.
Because Albuquerque is a pain in the ass to spell.
- “Fanta Se” or “The Fe”
We mean our hippy town extraordinaire, Santa Fe.
Our personal version of Hollywood.
The slang term for our only minor league baseball team. “Orale, you want to go to a ‘Topes game?”
ADDITIONAL NOTES FROM NEW MEXICO CULTURAL ENCYCLOPEDIA:
Adding an assuring “or what,” “or no,” or “huh,” to the end of a question, is fairly common.
Likewise, ‘you know’ can sometimes be added in the middle of sentences.
These are used in a similar manner to the Canadian English “eh,” in the sense that it’s a reassurance to getting an answer.
A confirmation with a simple ‘I know’ , or even combining with an assuring ‘I know, huh’, is a simple agreement similar to ‘I agree’ or ‘I concur’.
Another popular example is “bueno bye” (with the “b” in bueno being very subtley pronounced), which is used at the end of conversations, especially at the end of a phone call.
The partial pronunciation of certain words, most obviously with the word “crayon”, pronounced with a single syllable as cran, whereas in standard American English, it is pronounced with two syllables as cray-on.
This can be exaggerated in certain situations, though it doesn’t occur quite as often, including pronouncing ‘remember’ as ‘member’ and ‘especially’ as ‘specially’. Such pronunciation creates obvious homophones.
Many unique context-sensitive interjections exist, including; ‘Oo ee’ as a fear based interjection, a long “e” (Eeee) is an exclamation of bewilderment, and the trepidatious usage of the word ‘omber’.
“A la” short for the curse term “a la maquina” is fairly common as well.
Pípíhearted, a combination of the Spanish term “pío” (as in pío-pío, which is an onomatopoeia from the sound of a baby bird or chick) and the English terms “chicken-hearted” or “broken-hearted”, is a slang expression used to tell someone to not be distressed or offended at a prior remark or situation.
Other popular New Mexico English words or expressions:
shut the light, for “turn off the light”
malk, for “milk”
hemburger, for hamburger
get down from the car, for get off the car
heng on, for “hang on”
anyways, for anyway
mira look, for “look”
drawling, for “drawing”
pallow, for “pillow”
Sav’n Elav’n, for Seven Eleven
Ombers, an interjection commonly used to express playful disapproval or shaming of another
Of course, this all depends on where in New Mexico you grew up, as well as what part of the community you grew up in. LOL !!
New Mexico slangs, Lesson 1:
New Mexico slangs, Lesson 2:
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