Can’t figure out what this abbreviation is for

I’m reading a book called Solito, a non-fiction story of a kid who made the trip from El Salvador to the US on foot in the late 1990s.

So far I’ve been able to locate/understand most of the Central America specific slang using jergozo or the web.

In the dialog, I keep running into a contraction “va’a”. Example sentence: “Pero solo es lo que yo pienso, ¿va’a?” The use makes it seem to mean something like “¿sabes?” or “you know?” at the end of a sentence in English.

What is it a contraction for? Vaya? Verdad? Is my interpretation of the meaning correct?

I hear it a lot here in So Cal, though I speak very poor Spanish. It nearly always means right? or you know? just as you figured. I always thought it was Mexican slang.

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Cool, thanks. It’s nice to have that part confirmed.

Well if anyone else runs into this, here is what I have found.
“va” as a sentence ending in the use described above is either, depending on the source, a shortened form of “vale” or a form of the verb ir (either 3rd person, or 2nd person voseo). Regardless of the source, both claim the same meaning in this use i.e. it is a question that seeks confirmation or agreement from the listener, similar to the usage of “¿verdad?” or “¿no?” at the end of a sentence.

Now, with respect to “¿va’a?”, I’ve had no luck at all. It seems to be used in exactly the same way as “va” above, but why is it written this way? I thought an informal contraction like “pa’que” “porfa” or the like. I wanted to know if it is a different word, or the same one? It is difficult to search for information regarding “¿va’a?”, because even in quotes the apostrophe is ignored and the information I see in search related to either just va or va a. So, it appears I will have to content myself for now knowing the meaning in context.

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It’s an interesting investigation, but it’s also wise to remember that direct translations from one language to another are often difficult if not impossible. Slang is even more difficult to pick apart and find a reasonable etymology.

Well, I’m not looking for a translation. I’m just looking for the words being contracted in the L2. But it appears that in this case that is pretty difficult, too. :slight_smile:

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I have tried to search in different ways but I have not found any luck at all. I also find weird that this word doesn’t exist in Spanish slang at all even if searched in Spanish language only.

From the one only sentence you provided (the more the better), it seems is something like verdad that you mentioned above, and that it can be said in many different ways with the same meaning.

It might be also that the author is trying to write like the kid is pronouncing that word instead of writing the same pronunciation.

I have no clue, I tried!

You know what? Since Javier Xamora is a current author and also young, you can try to find him online and write directly to him. He might happily answering you.

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¡Gracias, amigo! Good idea. I´ll try reaching out, but perhaps once I finish the book, since I may have more.

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It’s usually written “vaa” or even “vaá”. It’s a filler word that is short for verdad.
Apparently its common in Guatemala!


¡Muchas gracias, Tommy!

I think the scenes I read with that word took place in Guatemala. It’s nice to have that mystery solved! :slight_smile:

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