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Che! Posted by on Jul 24, 2008 in Spanish Culture

¡Che! is an interjection used mainly in Argentina and Eastern Spain (Valencia) and it’s often used to get attention or express surprise. It can be roughly translated as “Eh!”, “Wow!”, or “Hey!”. It’s also used as a discourse marker to initiate an utterance, or tagged at the end of a sentence.

¡Che, está buena la cerveza! – Man, this is some good beer!

Vamos a buscar unas cervezas, che. – Let’s go get some beers, then.

In Brazil, che is used in the southern part of the country, especially by the gaúchos (people from Rio Grande do Sul). Its origin may have derived from several native South American languages, but some people argue that it has its origin from the archaic Spanish word ce, used in order to get someone’s attention. Another theory is that it is connected with the Italian word Ciao (hello or goodbye) introduced in South America by Italian immigrants. Another version is that che is a shortened version of the word escuche (listen) , just like oye, which also means listen.

Here are some interesting articles (in intermediate/advanced Spanish) about the word Che.

– Manuel Talens’ report about Valencian and Argentinian che.

– Etimology of Che.

Che in the website AsiHablamos (very good Latin American Spanish reference).

Nos vemos prontito!

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


Comments:

  1. A. Novati:

    I have to add to your research. In my understanding of the origins of the word “Che” is that it is derived from a Guarani native term which means “man” or “hombre”. The Guarani people extend from Paraguay, Southern Brazil, and Northern Argentina. The gauchos of Argentina were historically of mixed Spanish and Guarani heritage, and the intermingling of languages would be no surprise. I’m sure the gauchos in southern Brazil would have had similar mixing of cultures.
    I can’t explain the Valencian use of the term though. There is neither a Valencian or Castillian root that I can see. Is there a large Argentine immigrant population in Valencia?

  2. david carmona:

    Not really. The use of “che” in Valencia can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages. I think it is just a coincidence that it evolved on both sides of the Atlantice from different sources.