Che (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃe], Portuguese: tchê, IPA: [ˈtʃe]; Valencian: xe, IPA: [ˈtʃe]) is a Spanish diminutive interjection (a vocative expression) commonly used in Valencian Community, Argentina and Uruguay. It is a form of colloquial slang used in a vocative sense as "friend", and thus loosely corresponds to expressions such as "mate", "pal", "man", "bro", or "dude", as used by various English speakers. As a result, it may be used either before or after a phrase: "Man, this is some good beer", or "Let's go get a beer, bro." It can be added to an explicit vocative to call the attention, playing the role of "Hey", for instance: "Che, Pedro, ¡mirá!", "Hey, Pedro, look!". Che is also utilized as a casual speech filler or punctuation to ascertain comprehension, continued interest, or agreement. Thus che can additionally function much like the English words "so", "right", or the common Canadian phrase "eh".
Che can also be found in some parts of Paraguay, Brazil ("tchê"), Peru, and Bolivia, as a result of their close vicinity to Argentina. In other Latin American countries, the term che can be used to refer to someone from Argentina. For example, the famous Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara earned his nickname from his frequent use of the expression, which to his Cuban comrades in the Cuban Revolution, was a curious feature of his idiolect. As a result, Guevara is popularly known simply as el Che (the Che) in many Latin American countries.
The exact origin of che is unclear, and possibly derived from several indigenous South American languages:
- In Guaraní che means simply "I" or "my".
- In Tehuelche and Puelche che means "man".
- In Mapudungun che means "people".
Other linguists[who?] theorize that the word che is derived from the archaic Spanish word ce, used to call someone's attention. Another theory connects it with the Italian greeting "ciao", or word "cioè", meaning "that is". Because of the large presence of Venetian immigrants in Argentina, che could perhaps derive from "ciò", an interiection commonly used in Venetian with the same meanings. Che could also be a shortened version of the word "escuche" meaning "listen" and used to capture attention (cf. older English lo from look, more distantly dialectal Polish cie from widzicie and Russian ишь from видишь).
- Che or Xe: In Spain, che is widely used in Valencia and Terres de l'Ebre, Catalonia (written as xe), as an interjection since ancient times. With the spelling "xe" in Valencian, its main use is to express protest, surprise or exasperation. Che! is one of the symbols of the Valencian identity to the point where, for example the Valencia CF is often referred to with the nickname "Che Team".
- In the Philippines (a former Spanish colony), "che" is used as a means of dismissing another person or interrupting another person's speech, similar in context to the English expression "Shut up!"
- Re (exclamation) - a similar interjection in the Balkans of identical usage
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