Sunday, July 1, 2012


As I've posted before, I don't like the term slum. Shantytown isn't much better as a term, but somewhat. The other option is squatter settlement - but it sounds very high register and does not include those that have gotten legal title. In English I prefer poor or marginalized neighborhood - self-built neighborhood is another option.

The terms for shantytown in Spanish seem to be quite country specific:
villa miseria, often shortened to just villa, seems very Argentinian, though maybe other Southern cone countries use it. Argentinians also sometimes use ciudades miseria

in Peru they are sometimes called 'pueblo joven'

in Mexico they are 'colonias populares' 
[correction! thanks to Atenea who writes: "A "colonia popular" in Mexico is not a shantytown. Colonias populares are low-income government developed housing complexes. The term we use to refer to shantytowns is "ciudades perdidas" (perhaps a bit worn out lately) and, more recently, "colonias de paracaidistas"]

in El Salvador the term is 'comunidades marginales', one of my personal favorites that I think travels well, ie, others will understand it even if they don't normally use it, unlike villa.
[huge thanks to Silvia who suggests comunidades marginalizadas - fantastic! so much better]

the other option is asentamiento informal, but that's pretty high register.

otras? sugerencias porfa!

[thanks to Ronald who writes that in Nicaragua they are called 'barrios' - pero ojo que en otros paises barrio significa justo lo opuesto]