Back in the days when I had a tutor, almost every time we talked on the phone she would end the call with:
Órale, chao or Órale, nos vemos
One day I decided to ask her about it, and she gave me a not so direct answer (I got this type of answer a lot). She said "It depends, it can mean a lot things". Well, eventually everything started to make sense, but let's see if I can save you some heartache by telling you about the most common uses.
Órale, nos vemos
Ok, see you later
Here are a few more examples:
Te llamo despues
I'll call you later
¿Quieres ir al cine?
Do you want to go to the movies?
Ok, let's go
Voy al super, ahorita vengo
I'm going to the store, I'll be right back
You can use it to tell someone to get the lead out.
¡Órale!, No tengo todo el día
Hurry up, I don't have all day
When you see something amazing, like a super cool car or a huge one punch knockout in a boxing match:
You've really gotta drag it out to get the best effect.
It can also mean cool, great or fantastic.
Saqué un 100 en mi examen
I gotta 100 on my exam
That's great !
You can use it for disbelief:
Estoy saliendo con Selma Hayak
I'm going out with Selma Hayak
It's perfect for when someone surprises you with news you weren't expecting.
Mi novia esta embarazada
Órale wey! ¿Neta?
My girlfriend is pregnant
Seriously dude! Really?
And lastly you can use as with the intention of "please, come on"
Papa, préstame el coche, órale
Dad, let me use the car, come on
As you can see there a number of ways to use órale. It's meaning changes based on context and more importantly your tone of voice. By the way, órale, wey and neta is very informal Spanish. And just so you know, the correct spelling of wey is güey, but you'll probably see wey written far more than the correct spelling.
While I'm on the topic of Mexican Spanish, many people ask me "where did you learn all this stuff?" Well, it's time to share my secrets.
OK, I'm busted. The truth is I don't have any secrets. Most of my knowledge of Mexican slang and colloquialisms come from partying hard in the bars and streets of Mexico, from talking with my local Mexican friends and my old tutor. But I did have some extra help along the way from some pretty good books.
All of the books below are about Mexican Spanish and have been pretty useful. I own them all. In fact, I have a ton books about learning Spanish, it's an addiction. Anyway, let's get on with it.
Spanish Lingo for the Savvy Gringo is another book dedicated to Mexican Spanish. And again, even though it targets Mexican Spanish, a lot of it is pretty neutral. It covers a variety of topics you don't see in other books like groceries, seafood, cooking, housing, housework, driving, the mechanic and a ton more, so if you're an ex-pat in Mexico this book may be what the doctor ordered.
Mexican Slang plus Grafiti. This book stands out in my mind for several reasons. Right now the number one reason is because I know I bought it and I can't find it. That makes me angry, but that's not your problem. The other reason is because it's also a very good book. With chapters like sex, drugs, rock and roll and party time, how can it not be a good book?
Any one or all of those books will help you impress your friends and make you sound like you were born Mexican. I've rambled on long enough, but I'll leave you with one more place you can go to learn Spanish in general, as well as Mexican Spanish.
SpanishPod101.com - Learn Spanish with Free Podcasts
I've rambled on enough, so I'll let you click on the link and check it out. And yes, the podcasts are free, there's no catch involved. I download them all the time and they help a lot. It's good stuff. But like any business, they are out to make a buck. The podcasts are free, but PDF transcripts are not. I will say the price is reasonable (maybe $60/yr for a basic subscription) and you get access to a huge library of Spanish lessons that have been built up over several years. I've been a long time user and customer of that site. What I find most impressive is it's the only site I've seen that has lessons on regional Spanish...Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and even Argentina.
Órale pues, this has gone on too long. Go try out what you just learned with your friends and have fun.
¡Hasta la próxima!