How to Sound Like a Local in El Paso

The majority of the people living in El Paso have lived here all their lives while the rest of the residents have come from different parts of the world because of Fort Bliss, Juarez and the University of Texas at El Paso. Although this has allowed the lingo to change in the city due to the fact that people from around the world are now living in the city, the language still has stayed somewhat consistent especially for the long-time residents of the Sun City.

In order to better understand the language in El Paso, we have provided you with some quick information regarding your new home. Just be sure to remember that you are living in a city where Spanish is spoken as much or even more than English is and it also turns into Spanglish.

Chuco Town and El Chuco

El Paso is notorious for being called Chuco Town and El Chuco due to the fact that Chuco is derived from Pachuco. Pachuco has been said to have originated in El Paso by people migrating to the city and referred to Mexican-Americans who wore well-dressed suits called zoot suits.

No Manches

There are two versions of this phrase, which means roughly “you can’t be serious”, but one might get you in trouble especially if you repeat it to the wrong person which is why it will not be mentioned here. To avoid trouble just remember no manches is the phrase that will be used consistently in any conversation especially if the person is surprised/shocked at what they are being told. It literally means “don’t stain”

Ay Ay

When you hear the words “ay ay” spoken, it usually is used in disbelief and is typically used by women more than men. It can also be used in replace of the word whatever. You could be giving a compliment to a person and their response will be “ay ay” as if saying “oh whatever I don’t believe you.”

Right now does not always mean right now

For most El Pasoans, they seem to not grasp the true meaning of right now. When you tell an El Pasoan to do something or if they are supposed to do something that very second they will insist that they will complete the task but what you don’t know is that although they will tell you it will be done right now, it does not mean  that it will get finished at that very moment. For example, if you’re told by a native of the city that they will call you right now then be aware that right now means later.

Mispronunciations

Some street names might be confusing when you hear them being spoken by someone with a heavy accent like Chelsea Street, McRae Boulevard and Myrtle Street. Myrtle Street can sometimes be said like Muertos while Chelsea will be pronounced like Chel-suh street and McRae will be called Ma-gray. To avoid confusion just enter the location in your phone so it can be autocorrected to the right name.

You’re either being insulted or told you’re a strawberry

If someone calls you a fresa then they are describing you as a kind of stuck up person who only care about name brand products and dresses preppy. This term has been used to as a stereotype for Mexican-Americans who are either middle class or upper class and pretend they are preppy. If you hear this word and it is being used as a reference to someone then it is definitely not a compliment but if it’s used toward something you consume or a color then it means strawberry.

The Boonies

If you live out in the far far east side like Horizon City then it will be instantly referred to as the boonies despite the fact that you are not living in the country and it’s not in the middle of nowhere.

Far is a relative term

For some reason El Pasoans refuse to understand that in this city nothing is too far away compared to other cities like Austin and Houston where you have to travel hours just to get from one side to the other. In El Paso it takes roughly 30 minutes to travel from one place to the next and even less on a good day.



Tanya Torres