Spanish from Guatemala is unique for its roots and is the dialect of the entire Central American region


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Guatemalan Spanish is the primary Spanish dialect within Central America. Though more than 70% of the Guatemalan population speak Spanish, majority of its inhabitants speak it as a second language. Guatemala’s linguistic’s are influenced by Mayan dialects. This nation was once the epicenter of the Mayan civilization. Before the Spanish conquest, Nahualt was the most spoken language. In fact, the name for Guatemala comes from the Nahualt phrase “the land of many trees”, Quauhtlemallan. Guatemala’s indigenous origins influence its current Spanish dialect, creating at times a hyrbid, which is what makes Guatemalan Spanish different than other Latin-American Spanish dialects.


“Chapín & Chapina” 

Chapín or Chapina for female refers to the Guatemalan citizen. Though the term Guatelmateco would the formal way, Chapín or Chapina is the most common term in the nation. This colloquialism originates from the Spanish conquest. They would use this term to describe Guatemalan people. They would wear chapines footwear and the term evolved into chapín or chapina for female.

“Soy orgullosamente chapina”

“I am proudly Guatemalan” (informal)


“Dos que tres”

Dos que tres literally translates to “two than three”, however, the interpretation is “so so” or  “to hanging in there”.

“Mi mamá está un dos que tres, el accidente le afectó mucho”

“My mom is hanging in there, the accident really affected her”



The term chumpa is a Central American term for jacket. This is especially used in Guatemala for a bomber jacket.

“Dame mi chumpa, hace un poco de frio”

“Give me y jacket, it’s a little cold”



Muchá comes from the term muchachos (heavily used in Mexico). The term means “guys” and is one of the most prominent colloquialisms.

“Hola muchá, vamos al parque”

“Hey guys, let’s go to the park”



Charnel is term for car or vehicles.

“Esperemos a que nos recoja Maria en su charnel”

“Let’s wait for Maria to pick us up in her automobile”

Many of theses terms have the “ch” sound which is a common consonant within the Mayan dialect. Therefore, one could consider these terms reflection of the complex history of mestizaje Guatemala. Comment below if you know any Guatemalan Spanish terms! You’re ready for your next visit to Guatemala. You can learn more about Latin American culture and more Spanish with us at LALC. Click here to sign up for Spanish lessons in Chicago today!

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