Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fiesta Brava

While in English the term bullfighting evokes a bunch of idiots hurting cattle, the Spanish term fiesta brava (lit. brave party) depicts a festivity that involves as much art as big cojones. The popularity of los toros (lit. the bulls, as fiesta brava is also known) has permeated to Chilango jargon in multiple allusions. Here is a colorful handful.

Hacer la faena (to work the bull) => To complete successfully a hard task
Cambio de tercio (Switch of third) => To go from beer or wine to liquor
Traer media estocada (With half of the spade in) => Not quite drunk but far from sober
Llevarse orejas y rabo (take the ears and tail of the bull) => Grand success
Partir plaza (walking in the middle of the arena) => To catch everybody's attention, in a proudly manner
Vuelta al ruedo (tour around the arena) => Deserved recognition
En barrera (ring-side location) => Right next to action and the blood
Sol general (the cheapest section in the plaza) => Common, not special

In conversation:

Cuando el Licenciado Godínez llegó de la comida ya traía media estocada. Me tocó ver el pleito con su esposa en barrera. La neta que el Lic. se llevó orejas y rabo con tamaño faenón.

[When Mr. Godinez returned from lunch, he was far from shit-faced but drunk. I saw him fighting with his wife from three feet. I swear he did a grand job in the way he worked her.]

Plaza Mexico, "the biggest and most comfortable in the world" according to the Plaza's flyers (right next to the Blue Stadium, home of the soccer team Cruz Azul).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Johny, Miguel, Tiburcio...

Chilangos like to avoid lame, merely descriptive sentences. Every time they can they throw some colorful term to surprise and amuse the listener. Instead of using boring pronouns as yo, , mi, ti, Chilangos use Johny, tunas, Miguel, Tiburcio. The substitutions are immaterial in terms of meaning. They are purely ornamental. Here are some examples:

yo (I) => Johny
tu (You) => tunas
mi (me) => Miguel
ti (you) => tinieblas, tiburcio, tiburón
acá (here) => Acámbaro, Michoacán
pa'llá (contraction of para allá, over there) => payaso

In conversation:

¿Quién se chupó mi Viña Real?: Who drank my wine cooler?
Johny (lit. Johny): I did.

¿Para quiénes son los huaraches con carne?: Who are these huaraches with beef for?
Uno es para Miguel y el otro para Tiburcio (lit. One for Miguel and the other for Tiburcio): One for me and the other for you.

¡Hazte payaso! (lit. Become a clown!): Move over!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It literally means record-player. Tocadiscos stands for tocado de la cabeza (touched of the head, cuckoo). It is a colorful, almost musical allusion to insanity.

Poncho: Los tocadiscos viejitos son claramente superiores a los reprodutores de MP3. [Old record-players are clearly superior to MP3-players.]
Pancho: Estas bien tocadiscos. [You're out of your mind.]

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Before trying to pronounce this word, take a deep breath and relax. Ñáñaras (GNA-gna-dahs) is the feeling inside one's belly produced by excitement or disgust. The word is used as part of the expression sentir or dar ñáñaras (to feel or to give ñáñaras), which was popularized by the Hermanos Lelos characters of the Polivoces, a world class couple of Mexican comedians. Watch the segment below from their 1960s show.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Naco vs Fresa



In contemporary Mexico's theater of life, nacos and fresas enact a battle of lifestyles day-in and day-out.

Naco stands for anything without taste or class, which nevertheless possesses some degree of sophistication. Vulgar yet edgy, a sort of spiced-up tackiness, naco is generally associated with low social status. It is not a derogative term for poor, but for poor or cheap taste. Nacos are often referred to as chusma, ñeros, gatos, naguales, indios, or nacuarros. Renowned for their rich slang and amusing inventiveness, naco es chido has become a popular slogan. From this ringside, fresas are the plague of society.

Fresa (lit. strawberry) is the Mexican version of a daddy’s boy: a yuppie. Wealthy and arrogant, a fresa has the lifestyle of a junior, mamón, prepo or farol. When applied to females, a niña fresa is a rather conservative or unadventurous teen engrossed in mundane and insignificant affairs. The behavior of a fresa is regulated by unwritten yet strict social norms which avoid any action that could be considered naca, like using public transport, listening to cumbias (tropical music), or buying groceries at the local market (mercado) instead of the supermarket. The basic communication workhorses for fresas are:

  • Osea (it’s like)
  • Osea hello!? (what-everrr!). It is customary for fresas to use English words like hello, cool and bye when talking in Spanish. This apparently conveys a cosmopolitan flair.
  • Qué oso! (how embarrassing!)
  • De pelos (super or cool)
  • No manches wey! (gimme a break). Notice how güey is replaced by wey.
  • Qué onda wey? (what’s up?)

In the following video, nacos and fresas discuss their movie tastes. Notice how the fresa intonation suggests that a fat and heavy tongue is obstructing a clear pronunciation.


lit. Dog

A person's, a thing's or a situation's dogsomeness are deeply rooted concepts in modern effective Mexican Spanish. Alternative meanings relate to different  k-9 attributes, in say: voracity, concupiscence, persistence, loyalty or toughness.
  1. ¡Eres un perro! Te atascaste a todas las viejas de tu salón : You made out with every girl in our class. You're such a dog! 
  2. Ya te vi perrín. (I see through you little dog) I know your intentions.
  3. Súbele al aire, esta perro el calor. Crank the AC, its hot like a bitch.
  4. Te trae de nalgas, como su perrito. You have fallen for her, you're her bitch.
  5. Ya vi tu coche, está perrón! Just saw your ride, it's smokin'
  6. Le estás tirando el perro a María verdad perrín? You're letting the dogs out on María aren't you dogg.
  7. Me trataron como perro. They treated me really badly.
  8. El concierto estuvo chido, el estadio estaba aperradísimo. The concert was awesome, the stadium was packed.
  9. Todos queremos guacamole, ¡no te aperres! Easy on the guacamole, we all want to try it.
Note: It's critically important to roll your r's properly.