“Alikindoi” “Guachisnai” – Unexpected Connections

The Thompson family had finally arrived at the bustling port of Cadiz where they marveled at the picturesque scenery. It was a lively place with colorful boats, merchants selling fresh seafood, and the sound of seagulls echoing through the air. As they docked their boat, Emily caught sight of a Spanish boy around her age working with his father to help her parents dock their boat.

Curiosity sparked in Emily’s eyes as she watched the boy skillfully handle the ropes and speak to his father in rapid Spanish. Intrigued, she tried to decipher what they were saying, but they spoke too quickly for her to be able to understand anything.

Driven by her inquisitive nature, the next day, Emily decided to approach the boy.

“Hi. My name’s Emily. What’s your name?”

The boy looked up at her and smiled, he said something, but Emily didn’t quite catch it.

“Excuse me?”

The boy was still looking at her, but this time he laughed. “You are a guachisnai.”

“A guachi-who?”

“A guachisnai!”

The boy continued to laugh as Emily stood there completely confused. He went on to say,

“Guachisnai, doesn’t that sound familiar to you?”

Completely shocked, Emily responded, “no, not at all!”

Emily was starting to think that he was making fun of her and just trying to get a reaction out of her. She started to walk away when the boy said, “no, don’t go. Let me ask you a question and I’ll explain.”

Emily turned around and stood with her arms crossed waiting to hear what he had to say.

“Emily, that was your name, right? Emily, what was the first thing that you said to me?”

“Well, what anyone would say, I told you my name and asked you ‘what is your name?’”

“Exactly! Can you repeat the question, but a little faster?”

Emily, still confused, repeated the question. “What’s-your-name?”

“Okay, I guess it’s a little harder than that. First, my name is Carlos. I work here at the port with my father in summer when I’m not at school. My father has worked here all his life, just like his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. “

“Oh, so it’s like a family tradition. That’s nice, but what does that have to do with what you said to me before?”

“Well, foreigners like you have been coming here for decades, probably even centuries. And, just like you, they would ask ‘what’s your name?’, but people here didn’t really know English very well, so that phrase turned into the word ‘guachisnai’.”


As Carlos let out a laugh, he responded, “Yes, ‘guach’ comes from ‘what’, ‘is’ comes from ‘is’, and ‘nai’ comes from ‘name’: guachisnai!”

“Ohhhhhh myyy, what?! Are you serious?!”

At this point, both Emily and Carlos were laughing together, Emily couldn’t believe how the question had turned into such a word. Carlos went on to tell her that the term is now used to refer to foreigners, like her.

Over the following days, Emily and Carlos spent a lot of time together, sharing stories and experiencing the unique blend of English and Spanish cultures. Little did Emily know that Carlos would introduce her to even more anglicisms, words in Spanish that came from English travelers who had visited the south of Spain and left a lasting impact on the local language and culture.

He explained how his father and other sailors, fishermen and seamen also used the term “alikindoi”.


As Carlos let out a laugh, yet again, he responded, “Alikindoi. This also comes from your ancestors.”

“Okay, how does this come from English?!”

“Well, you have to separate it, like we did with ‘guachisnai’, in order to understand it. ‘Lik’ comes from ‘look’, ‘in’ comes from ‘and’, ‘doi’ comes from ‘do it’. What’s not so clear is where the ‘a’ comes from, so I’m not sure if it’s from “I’ll look and do it,” or just “Look and do it”.

Emily repeated, “Look and do it. Likindoi.”

“Yea, so now it’s used to tell people to pay attention,” explained Carlos

“I can’t believe it, it’s so funny how the Spanish have made it their own,” exclaimed Emily.

With newfound excitement, Emily listened attentively as Carlos shared tales of his ancestors’ encounters with English visitors. It was like unearthing a hidden treasure, connecting her to her family’s past.

 As the days passed, Emily and Carlos became inseparable, forming a bond strengthened by their shared interests and the discovery of their intertwined heritage. They explored the charming town, relishing the beauty of Cadiz’s historical sites, vibrant markets, and delicious seafood.

Sadly, the time to depart came too soon. Emily’s family was ready to continue their voyage, setting sail to new horizons. Carlos and Emily exchanged heartfelt goodbyes, promising to stay in touch.

On the day of their departure, Emily discovered a small envelope with her name written on it. With a mix of anticipation and bittersweet emotions, she opened the letter as the boat slowly drifted away from the port.

It was from Carlos. In the letter, he expressed his gratitude for the memorable moments they shared, how much he valued their friendship, and his hopes to see her again one day. He ended the letter by saying, “Make sure to be alikindoi as you travel to different places. I’ll miss you, guachisnai.” Tears welled up in Emily’s eyes as she realized the impact this journey had on her life and how it had opened her heart to the world and its fascinating connections.

As the sun shimmered on the turquoise waters, Emily waved goodbye to Cadiz, clutching the letter close to her heart. She had made a friend for life.



Both “aliquindoi” and “guachisnai” are said to have originated in port cities in the South of Spain, more specifically, Malaga and Cadiz. They are a result of Spanish sailors’ contact and interaction with foreign, English-speaking sailors.

“Aliquindoi” is said to have evolved from the precautionary phrase “look and do it” said by English-speaking sailors to Spanish dockworkers in order for them to pay attention and copy the modeled behavior. Nowadays, “aliquindoi” is used as “pay attention” or “be aware”.

“Guachisnai” is said to be a phonetic deformation of the phrase “what’s your name?”, again, said by English-speaking sailors to ask the name of Spanish dockworkers. It is now used in Cadiz to refer to English-speaking foreigners.

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