What’s all this about “Oy! Young person”!

Ever out for dinner or in the store and think you hear the equivalent of someone shouting “oy! Young person!” by using the Spanish term “joven”?Ever had someone refer to you in this way?Ever thought it sounded kinda rude?Well, guess what? It’s actually really polite. Remember that connotations and exact usage of words vary across the Spanish-speaking world; that said, here in Panama the word “joven” is an “usted” – therefore formal and polite – form of address for either a man or a woman who is clearly of an adult age but not necessarily married.

This way of addressing someone is a great go-to if you don’t know someone’s age or marital status (which would have you use Señor or Señora).

In a bar: “Joven, me da otra cerveza por favor”
(Can I have another beer please)

In the store: “Joven, donde está la caja por favor?”
(Where is the checkout please)