I know, I know–enough with the reduxes! Long-time readers are getting lots of déjà vu lately, and even the fun of saying déjà vu with a sexy French accent isn’t making up for the flurry of retreads. I’m sorry. If it’s any consolation, today I submitted a column that’s 100% new–no rehash. See the original juicioso post here.
When I came to Colombia in 2009, I arrived feeling that I had a pretty solid grip on Spanish. Oh sure, there were words I didn’t know, but I was certain that all my years of learning Spanish in school would be enough to confer me high intermediate or even low advanced status. How sadly naive I was.
The fact was I was seriously deficient in actual interaction with native speakers. This meant two things: 1) I could barely speak in a way that came even close to sounding natural, and 2) My ability to understand native speakers was even more abysmal. My inflated self-confidence took a dramatic nosedive.
Today’s word marked one of those crushing moments when reality began to sink in. One of those words that hammered in the depressing verdict that maybe I wasn’t such a Spanish hotshot after all. Maybe my Spanish was terrible. Now what?
It was my first weekend in Colombia, and I was at the house of some relatives of the family I was living with. An uncle, Orlando, jovial as ever, greeted me by saying something to the effect of, ¿Qué más, mi niña? ¿Juiciosa?
And I said, WHAT?
The meaningless syllables mercilessly ricocheted on my brain only to indicate that I had nothing. It was pitiful. Later that night, I turned to the dictionary for guidance. Now, the dictionary will tell you that juicioso means judicious. In Colombia, however, juicioso is used to mean hardworking, well-behaved, and responsible. As you can imagine, it’s often used to tell children to be good or to describe someone’s work ethic. It’s also frequently used in a less straightforward way to ask if someone’s been working hard recently or been a “good boy” or “good girl,” i.e., staying out of trouble. The noun form juicio is also used.
¿Qué más? ¿Cómo te ha ido? ¿Juiciosa? – Ah, pues, bien, gracias a Dios. Sí, claro, muy juiciosa con mis estudios.
How’s it going? What have you been up to lately? Staying out of trouble? – Oh, you know. Pretty good. Busy with school stuff.
¿Así que al fin no fuiste a la fiesta? – No, me quedé en casa cuidando a mis hermanos. – Ah, ¡tan juicioso!
So, you didn’t end up going to the party? – No, I stayed home to babysit my little brothers. – Well, aren’t you responsible!
¿Qué más? ¿Qué hace? – No, por acá juicioso en el trabajo.
How’s it going? What’s going on? – Just working hard over here.
When you notice your friend who’s typically a lazybones knocking himself out and being responsible, use this word to highlight your incredulousness.
Uy, ¿y ese juicio? – No, hoy me dio por asear la casa.
Well, check you out! Mr. Responsible! – Nah, I just felt like cleaning the house today.
As mentioned, it’s common to hear a parent or teacher use juicioso or juicio with children.
Hoy se quedan con la abuela, así que por favor pórtense juiciosos y me le hacen caso.
You’re staying with grandma today, so be good and do what she says.
Ojo, pues, mucho juicio.
I consider juicioso a sort of muletilla in greetings, one of those filler words that usually doesn’t mean very much at all. Are your friends really interested in checking to make sure you haven’t been up to mischief? Would anyone ever confess to not being juicioso lately? The asker is looking for a yes, so make sure you give them one, simultaneously confirming for them why they think so highly of you. A win-win.