Argentine Spanish is strewn with words and colorful phrases from Lunfardo, a rich vocabulary born on the streets of Buenos Aires in the second half of the 19th century. Now considered a fixture of the Spanish language in Argentina (especially in and around Buenos Aires) and Uruguay, linguists cite the use of Lunfardo as a defining characteristic of the Rioplatense dialect. Add a dash of Argentine flavor to your Spanish vocabulary with the Transpanish blog’s ongoing feature highlighting some of the most frequently used terms in Lunfardo.
While Lunfardo features a number of words to refer to money in general, it also employs several terms to describe specific currency denominations.
|guita||one cent [also used as a general term for money]|
|diego [considered a non-standard term by Lunfardo purists]||ten pesos|
|gamba||one hundred pesos|
|luca||one thousand pesos|
|palo||one million pesos|
Unless otherwise specified, these terms always denote Argentine legal tender. If the speaker wishes to refer to a foreign currency, there are special terms that are affixed to the quantity. For example, verde is used in reference to U.S. dollars (e.g. 5 gambas verdes = 500 dollars). Speakers tack on euro after the quantity if discussing euros, the currency of the European Union (e.g. 10 lucas euros = 10,000 euros).
In addition, it’s best to use the term for the largest quantity applicable, i.e. 20 palos instead of 20,000,000 mangos or 20,000 lucas to express the sum of 20 million pesos.