Home Culture Speak like a local:  A guide to Ibicenco Expressions

Speak like a local:  A guide to Ibicenco Expressions

Speak like a local:  A guide to Ibicenco Expressions

It’s always important to make an effort to connect with locals in their own language wherever you go in the world, and maybe you have been brushing up on your Spanish before your trip to Ibiza, which is great! But you can go one step further in your endeavour. Ibicencos’ have their own dialect on the island, different to Spanish in the same way that Gaelic or Welsh are different to English.  Ibicenco is similar to Catalan spoken on the mainland of Spain in the areas of Catalonia (including regional capital Barcelona) but has a few twists and expressions which are unique to the indigenous people of the island. Here we have compiled a few examples of these so you can go so much further than “una cerveza porfavor” and mingle seamlessly in any of the local bars.

                                                                                   “Ai Carai!”

If you have listened closely to a conversation between a group of locals chances are you have heard them mutter “ai carai…”, with the arched-eyebrow, downward glance that often goes with it. The meaning is something akin to a more sweary  “oh my god” or even a “well, well, well”, a reaction of disbelief that might follow a story of drunken antics or some particularly juicy local gossip. So iconic is this expression to the Ibicenco people that this years’ San Carlos music festival was even named after it.

                                                                  “Tiram sa casa per sa finestra”

A slightly longer saying to add to your local vocab, this expression is used when you feel like being reckless. The literal translation is “let’s throw the house out the window” which explains why the meaning involves going a little crazy and doing whatever the little voice in your head is telling you not to. English people “go the whole hog”, Ibicenco people chuck their possessions out of their windows, either way, you know things are about to get real.

tirar sa casa per sa finestra

                                                                           “Mecatchis en la mar”

Have you ever been so annoyed with something that you just need to go and defecate in the ocean? Ibicencos’ have. My personal favourite, literally “S*it in the sea”, is a much-loved saying reserved for those frustrating moments in life when nothing else will do. Got a parking ticket when you only stopped for a second? Has someone turned up to your office five minute before you are due to close? Try muttering this to yourself under your breath and see if it brings the same relief as it does to the locals.

                                                                            “Vesten a fer punyetas”

Punyetas is the word used for the elaborate lace cuffs that are often worn by judges in court. Historically these cuffs were woven by hand, which as you can imagine was an extremely time-consuming activity. So, if someone asks you to “go and make punyetas”, I hate to tell you but they want you out from under their feet for a good while. But don’t despair if you hear this, your new Ibicenco friends haven’t actually had enough of you as this is almost always used in a good-humoured way, a friendly bit of teasing if someone sees you hanging about for too long or are distracting them.

a fer punyetes


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