Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gringos beware! Do not try this at home

Thanks to everyone for the great e-mails after I sent out my mega-update - good to hear from you. I'd especially like to thank Juan and Polo who can add to their respective business cards "Master of Chilango Colloquialisms and Coach in the Fine Art of Speaking Mexican Spanish." Both can contribute guest entries to my blog anytime.

In the spirit of sharing, here's the link to the "Dirty Word of the Month" podcast I recorded as part of my last job as an editor at Smart English Magazine.

¡Qué lo disfrutes!
Dirty Word of the Month

Following Juan´s sage advice, I´m adding a star system to the rapidly growing list of "Vocabulario Esencial" to prevent well-intentioned Spanish-language learners from ending up with their foot in their mouth (meter la pata). See below for some more tips to avoid saying something obscene.

But first - this excellent expanded definition of "a huevo" from Polo:

A Huevo’s main meaning is more related to saying Yes and in certain variations it is a reaffirmation of your actions…

In some cases A huevo is used in a cool way, to express coolness…
Like the “shagadelic baby yeah” Mexican version of it…. A huevooo...


Q: Vas a ir a la fiesta?
Are you going to the party?
A: A huevo!

Q: A poco no esta padre ese coche?
Isn´t this car awesome?
A: A huevo!

Q: No puedo creer que te ligaste a esa vieja!
I can't believe you hooked up with her.
A: A huevo!

Q: No se como pudiste escaparte sin que tus papas te regañaran.
I don't know how you got away without getting caught by your parents.
A: A huevo!

I'm trying to think what the English translation would be and I'm thinking something like "Hell yeah," "F--- yeah" or "Don´t you know it!" or maybe like "Boo-yeah," although let's not start saying that again and indeed forget we ever once said such a thing.

So I've given you guys some fun vocabulary to play with, but here's some that you´d best not touch with a 10-foot pole. In other words, don't try to use these phrases without the help of a trusted and patient Mexican friend with a good sense of humor.

Words that are way too easy to mess up:

I finally just had to cut my parents off. It´s just too easy to go horribly wrong.
If your food is spicy - "Está picante."
If the weather is hot - "Hace calor."
If you are hot (and not in the Paris Hilton way) - "Tengo calor."
If you say "Estoy caliente," it means you´re horny.

I´m embarassed = Tengo vergüenza
Estoy embarazado/a = I´m pregnant (and probably even more embarassed)

One of the first things we all learn in Spanish is How old are you?/¿Cuántos años tienes?
Easy - I thought. Until an English friend asked a teenager we knew, ¿Cuántos anos tienes?/How many anuses do you have? To which she replied, "Just one, but it works very well."

Not a problem in Mexico. However, in Habana, Cuba, and only in Habana as far as I can tell, papaya is slang for a woman´s vagina. The beloved tropical fruit is referred to as "fruta bomba."

In one sense, they´re just eggs. In the other, they´re balls. Do you really want to talk about huevos that much? Just don't, okay?
I would like to insert a joke here, courtesy of my friend, Ana.
¿Por qué la gallina ama tanto a sus pollitos?
Why does the mother hen love her chicklets so much?
Por que le cuesta un huevo cada uno.
Because each one costs her a huevo.

Practically anything you try to say
Due to the good old doble sentido (double meaning), I think just about anything could be construed as a reference to sex. For instance, apparently planchar/to iron is slang for sex here in DF.
I once tried to say something about putting spicy chile in my beer and ended up saying something about penises. The moral of the story was the barman offered me the biggest cup of beer I've ever seen in my life and said it was on the house if I drank it all. I decided to use the only word in Spanish I'm aware of that has only one meaning, "No."

Bad words you shouldn´t say in front of your suegra (mother-in-law)unless she's as cool as those old ladies from the Golden Girls or Phyllis Diller, and maybe you shouldn´t say at all if you´re a girl:
(*Note: These aren´t the best translations. But this is a guide advising you what NOT to say so...)

Chingar - f---
Vete a la verga - Go to hell (literally Go to the penis)
Pinche - 'effin, damn
Güey - dude
Cabrón/a - asshole/bitch
Pendejo - stupid asshole
No mames - Shut up, No way! Literally, stop sucking the tit or something like that. No manches would be the innocuous expression to use.
Anything with madre, ie:
Estoy hasta la madre- I´ve had it
Es todo un desmadre - It´s an effin mess.
Chinga tu madre - Go fuck your mother.

Geez, this could go on forever...
Well, if anyone has some hilarious stories about making egregrious errors while attempting to speak Spanish, send them along.

1 comment:

Mary said...

indeed, anything with madre should not be used in front of your boyfriend's mother. unfortunately when i was learning mexican spanish, i didn't realize that i was learning mostly swearwords until i told my boyfriend's mother that something was a desmadre...only then did my boyfriend inform me that it wasn't actually the only word for a mess (un lio would be more appropriate). ah well.