An Encyclopedia of Terms Used By My Host Family (Not in Alphabetical Order)

Sipi: A way of saying ‘si.’ Your older host sister frequently uses it, and when asked, she explains that it sounds more friendly, less severe, than the common ‘si.’

Eso no me sirve: What your host mother says after her uncle puts down a card that won’t help her get anywhere in the game. Her uncle had a stroke a while ago, and now is unable to speak, but he is still able to huff in amusement at her groans of disappointment. Loosely translates to, ‘well that doesn’t help me!’ 

Tesoro: What your host mom calls the cats as they stretch their whole bodies up to her leg in order to sniff at the food on her plate, butting her hands with their heads until she gives in and feeds them small pieces of whatever is on her plate. Translates to: ‘treasure.’ 

La Gata Bajo La Lluvia: The song your younger host sister sings at the top of her lungs whenever she’s bored. It always makes your host mom chuckle, the way her voice hits a screech at the topmost note of the song. Translates to: ‘The cat under the rain.’ 

Dios te acompañe: Said whenever any of your host sisters is leaving the house for more than just the day. Your host mom will draw them close, draw a cross on them, and then kiss them on the forehead, stroke their hair. Your Abuela does the same thing, but when they all go to bed each night. Translates to: ‘May God accompany you’

Narges' host-mom decorating a cake with blue-green waves

Permiso: Supposed to be said before entering a room/house, but in your host family more commonly used while already being halfway through the doorway of someone’s room so that they can show each other whatever Tiktok made them crack up out loud. Translates to: ‘Permission’ 

Amor: Used to refer to any loved one in the vicinity, whether it be to ask them a question or to get their attention. Dragged out just a little so the other person has time to raise their head from what they’re doing and smile. Translates to: Love. 

Que rico: Usually used in reference to food. Your host mom is a baker, and sometimes she brings the leftovers home from her job, small boxes of cake or pastries, always enough for each person. The family all bakes together, sometimes, for birthdays and special occasions. The steady hands of your youngest host sister decorate the cakes, while your host mom and older host sister whip together ingredients with startling efficiency. Translates to: ‘how delicious/rich/lovely’

Tranqui: A soothing word, said after an unnecessary apology or panicked declaration. Said quietly, with care. Often recapped later in the dog pile of bodies on the big bed in your host mom’s room, each person in their own world yet together.

Narges Anzali