Saturday, September 27, 2014

El Caló Mexicano

So what is El Caló Mexicano?

El Caló Mexicano is nothing more than Mexican slang.  And there's a lot of it.

I've written about a lot of Mexican slang over the years, but I've finally decided it's time I put together some kind of Mexican slang list. I thought about doing a top 10 list, but how many times has that been done?  Besides, I couldn't narrow it down to just 10 anyway.

So instead I'm going to write about some common Mexican slang that the average gringo may not have heard before.  Some of these words I use on a regular basis, some of them I just like the sound of.  Either way, I'm going to share with you my favorite caló mexicano.

Let's get to it.  BTW, these are in no particular order, I'm just writing them down as they come to mind.

Chaparrita - this word is a diminutive of chaparra, and it's a way of referring to a short woman.  Use chaparrito if you want to talk about a short man.

Me gustan las chaparritas
I like short girls

Simon - This is another (very informal) way of saying yes.  It's probably closer to yeah. 

Nel - An informal way to say no.  And now that I think about, nel is short for nel pastel. It's kind of like how we say no way Jose.  Try this on your Mexican friends and enjoy the laughs you're going to get.

Pica - You'll hear this quite a bit to refer to spicy food.  The universal word is picante, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard (and used) this word.

¿Pica?
Is it spicy?

¿Pica mucho?
Is it very spicy?

Carnal - If you've got a really good friend you can refer to him as carnal.  This is also a way of referring to a person who actually is your brother.

¿Qué onda carnal?
 What's up bro?

Una chela - More commonly known as cerveza 

Vamos por unas chelas
Let's go get some beers

You're probably going to want that chela to be nice and cold, so you could ask for a chela bien fría.   But that's not going to impress anybody.  Instead ask for a chela bien muertaMuerta means dead.  So why would you ask for a dead beer?  The short version is dead bodies are cold, so you want your beer as cold as a dead body.  Creepy, I know, but you'll sound muy mexicano

Me vale - I don't care.  Don't ask me why, but I think this is way more fun than saying no me importa.

Me vale lo que piensas
I don't care what you think

Neta - In my book this word is way cool.  To be honest I'm surprised I haven't blogged about this before.   Neta can be used in many different ways, here are some common examples.

¿Neta wey? 
Really dude?

Es la neta
It's the truth

Stay tuned, I'm going to post about neta in the very near future.  It's a versatile word that deserves some special attention.

Morra, Morrita - A way of referring to a woman.  You can use morro to refer to a man.

Nos vidrios - This is a play on words for nos vemos (see you later)

Mocoso - Snot nosed brat. Mocosa for girls.  Read my earlier post about this one.

Chupar - You have to be careful with this one, but you can use it to mean go drinking.  ¡Vamos a chupar wey! Think of this as going to suck down a few beers.  In fact, chupar means to suck.  I'll let you use your imagination and you'll quickly figure out why you need to be careful with chupar.

You can learn more about drinking in Mexican Spanish in this post.

Let's get back to the subject of alcohol.  If you want to order a shot at the bar you could ask for a trago (literally a swallow), but it you want to give your Mexican Spanish a little workout, ask for a caballito.

Un caballito - A shot.  I love this word.  Un cabillito de [favorite drink goes here].

¡Bartender!  Un cabellito de tequila

Yes, they do say bartender.

Si tomas demasidos caballitos, vas a tener la cruda
If you drink too many shots, you're going to have a hangover


Güero - It means blonde, or even a fair skinned person.  And here in the US it's also a way to refer to white Americans.

Your Spanish book will tell you that jefe means boss, and may not even mention the word jefa, which would be your female boss.  But guess what?  In Mexico there's another use for the word  jefaJefa or jefecita can refer to your mom. 


I'm going to get my mom and I'll be back.

We all know casa means house, but so does cantón.

Voy a pasar por tu cantón
I'm going to stop by your house

You could talk about your coche or carro, but you might hear a Mexican talk about his nave.

Let's talk about a few expressions.

Te voy a partir tu mandarina en gajos

If you hear this,you've made somebody awfully mad.   A mandarina is a tangerine, and a gajo is a slice or section.  So to split (partir) a mandirina (you) in gajos, means you're about to get your butt kicked.



El que no tranza no avanza - This translates to something like "if you don't cheat you don't get ahead".  I first heard this in the movie La Ley de Herodes, it's a great movie, you should check it out.


El burro hablando de orejas - I can't actually be sure that this is uniquely Mexican, but it's a nice spin on the pot calling the kettle black.

Es más cabrón que bonito - I also heard this for the first time in La Ley de Herodes too.  Literally it's something to the effect of "He's smarter than he is handsome".  You can use this for women to, but it changes to "Es más cabrona que bonita".  And if you want to talk about yourself just change es to soy


Soy más cabrona que bonita, y mira que soy muy bonita
I'm smarter than I am beautiful, and look at how beautiful I am

This post could go for a while, as there is certainly no shortage of caló mexicano, but I think it's time to wrap things up.  And don't worry, part 2 will be coming soon.

I wanted to avoid some of the more well known Mexican slang, so I'm not going to talk about the word Órale, but it's super important and you need to know about it.  Luckily I've already blogged about it - Órale wey.  Check it out.

If you want to pick up some more Mexican Spanish Amazon has a nice collection of books on Mexican Slang.  I also recommend you click here to take a look at the great post my friend TC (He's the author of No Hay Bronco) has written on Mexican slang. Be sure to read the comments, there a lot of them with even more info.

And of course you can read my other posts on Mexican Spanish.

What's your favorite caló mexicano?  Post it in the comments.

Nos vidrios in part 2!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

Unless you've been trapped in cave for the last few weeks, you've been surrounded by the excitement of the Copa Mundial 2014.  And if you have been trapped in a cave and just recently managed to escape, it's not too late to get in on all the fun.

I know I'm a little late with this post, but you still have time to learn all the key words and phrases you need to enjoy the Mundial 2014.  I'm not going to try and teach you everything, just enough to get you into the conversation.



First things first, you have to look the part.  And in order to do that you need to wear la camisa de la selección of your favorite team.  And la selección refers to the countries national team.

Here's what Mexico's camisa looks like:



But maybe you should wear Colombia's since Mexico has been eliminated.



Now that you look the part, it's time to learn how to talk the talk.  Let's start with the basics.

If by some chance you don't know this, what we call soccer is called fútbol in the Spanish speaking world.

A game is called a partido.  And every partido needs two equipos (teams) which are composed of jugadores (players).  One player is a jugador, btw.

Fútbol is played on a cancha (soccer field) also called a campo.

There's a lot more vocabulary that I'm not going to cover here, but you can download this free PDF to catch up on what I left out.

And here's an interesting page where you can see the names of the positions in English, Spanish or French, and hear an audio with the correct pronunciation in each language.

Alright, now we get to the interesting stuff.

The first thing you're going to need to know is who's playing, and when.

¿Quién esta jugando?
Who's playing?

México juega contra los Estados Unidos
Mexico is playing against the United States

¿A qué hora es el partido?
What time is the game?

¿A qué hora es el partido de Colombia?
What time is the Colombia game?

If you're not watching the game in the comfort of your home, you may need to call and ask if your favorite restaurant or bar is showing the game.

¿Vas a poner el partido de Brasil el sábado?
Are you going to show the Brazil game on Saturday?

If you want to find out who's rooting for who, you'll find these phrases handy.

¿Por quien vas en el partido Agentina-Colombia? 
Who are you going for in the Argentina - Colombia game?

If you want to sound really, really Mexican, go with these.  And remember, these are Mexican expressions, so your buddies from Argentina or other countries may look at you funny if you say this to them.

¿Quién es tu gallo en el partido Agentina-Colombia? 
Who are you going for in the Argentina - Colombia game?

¿Quién es tu gallo para ganar la copa mundial?
Who's your pick to win the World Cup?

And to tell the world who you're rooting for, you can say:

Voy por Chile
I'm rooting for Chile

Of course you can just substitute your team name for Chile.

While you're watching the game here are a few things you can shout out.

¡Pásala,  pásala!
Pass it, pass it

Pásala is referring to the pelota o bola (ball) of course.

When a player or players are driving down field this is a good one to throw out.

¡Dale dale dale!
Go go go

¡Tira, tira!
Shoot, shoot

Since we're on the topic, tirar and disparar both mean to shoot, to kick the ball in an attempt to score.

¡Vamos Mexico!
Go Mexico!

¡Que cabezazo!
What a header!

El cabezazo que le paró el corazón a toda Argentina
The header that stopped the heart of Argentina

Don't know what a cabezazo is?  This will help.


A cabezazo is when you use your head to bounce the ball around.  Too many of those can't be good for you.  It's also the word you want if you need to refer to a good old-fashioned headbutt.

The real excitement in a partido de fútbol is when someone scores, so let's talk about that.

To score a goal is to meter un gol.  But when a goal is really impressive, it's a golazo.

¡Metió un golazo!
He scored an amazing goal!

Ingleterra acaba de meter un gol
England just scored a goal

Barcelona metió uno
Barcelona scored

¿Lo metió?
Did he score?

To miss a goal is to fallar.

¿Lo falló?
Did he miss it?

Now, when someone scores a goal, feel free to shout out ¡Gol!. But your sportscaster is going to one up you by shouting.....

¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

If you want to hear what that sounds like, watch this short video.  It's actually a Geico commercial starring a very famous sportscaster in the world of fútbol, Andres Cantor.   And no, I'm not trying to get you to buy insurance.



If you can beat that, you will be the hero of the bar.

Of course we need to be able to talk about who's winning or losing.  Here's what you need to keep up with the score.

¿Quién va ganado?
Who's winning?

México va ganando a Brasil
Mexico is beating Brazil

Real Madrid le va ganando 1 a 0 al Barcelona
Real Madrid is beating Barcelona 1 to 0

Están empatados
They're tied

¿Cómo va el partido?
What's the score?

¿Cuál es el marcador? 
What's the score?

España esta ganado Costa Rica
Spain is beating Costa Rica

You'll need these for after the game or to catch up on the things you missed.

¿Cómo fue el resultado?
What was the final score?

Alemania perdió
Germany lost

Grecia perdio contra Croacia
Greece lost to Croatia

¡Colombia ganó!
Colombia won!

Speaking of Colombia, they pasaron por los cuartos.

Pasar por los cuartos means they're moving on to the semi-finals.  Están en cuartos means they're in the semifinals.  The equipos lucky enough to get to the final (use your Spanish pronunciation) will become campeones (champions).

That's all I'm going to write about today, but it's more enough to get you started.  But I'm not done yet.

Here's a free beginner Spanish lesson about the mundial.

World Cup Lesson


The lesson was developed by Marcus Santamaria, the creator of Synergy Spanish and Shortcut to Spanish.  He's got some really great material for everyone, not just beginners.  You'll also find more free lessons if you poke around his sites.  Pay him a visit, my Spanish wouldn't be where it is today without his help.  

And lastly, you don't have to memorize all of the stuff you learned to today, if you have an android phone you can take your Spanish with you using my app, My Spanish Phrasebook.

Monday, April 14, 2014

¿Vas a poner la maría?

If you missed my first two posts about my Costa Rica adventures, you can read them here:

1.  Tienes que cancelar la entrada
2.  ¡Pura Vida!

Let's see if I can wrap things up in this post.  So far I covered the language and now it's time to talk about my second favorite thing, comida.

When I travel the first thing I usually want to do when I get off the plane is find someone to talk to in a local bar and have a beer.  So let's start with what's probably the most popular beer in Costa Rica:



I'm not huge on beer, it's more of something I do on vacation.  But I have to admit, it wasn't bad. Although I preferred the Imperial Silver:


You can probably tell those are photos I got off the internet.  As many of those things as I drank you'd think I would have taken my own photos.  Oh well.

Costa Rica is famous for it's casados.  A casado is what I'm going to call a combination plate for lack of a better word.  You get some type of meat and a couple of sides.  Here's one I tried:


As you can see I ordered pescado (fish).  And to be specific, it was Corvina (Sea bass).  The other items on the plate are arroz, frijoles, plátano maduro, ensalada and a limón madarin.  I have to to admit, it was ¡muy rico!

By the way, muy rico literally translates to "very rich" but when it comes to food that's a very common way to say it's "really good".

¿Cómo está la comida?
Está muy rica

How's the food?
It's really good

Even the fast food chains serve casados.


Costa Rica is also very famous for it's Gallo Pinto.  Gallo Pinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast food.  Here's a photo of what a breakfast of Gallo Pinto might look like.


I'm ashamed to say I never tried the Gallo Pinto.  Oh well, that's my excuse for another trip to Costa Rica.  I did however, try a lomito.

Lomito isn't exclusively Costa Rican, nor is it anything particularly Spanish.  It's the word the waitress told me they use for steak in Costa Rica.



There are a lot of good places to eat in Costa Rica, you can find lots of little restaurants walking up and down the street.  And these little restaurants are called Sodas.




 All this talk of food is making me hungry.  It's time to change subjects.

The last thing I'm going to talk about is taxi's.  The streets of San Jose are flooded with these little red cabs.


The meter is called a taxímetro.

Por favor, ponga el taxímetro
Please turn on the meter

You may need that phrase may often than you think.  It will keep the taxi driver honest.  And speaking of honest cab drivers, there are people that moonlight as cab drivers that don't have a taxímetro.  These so-called cabs are called piratas and aside from the fact they aren't necessarily safe, you're going to end up paying more.

The taxímetro is also called La María.

¿Vas a poner la maría?
Are you going to turn on the meter?

And that's it, we're done!  At least for today.  There's one more thing I want to share with you but it will have to wait for my next post.

Oh, before I go, you may remember I mentioned plátanos maduros earlier.  If you don't what those are, then read my below posts.  And if even you do know what they are, you still probably want to read these posts because you might just be surprised at what you learn.

1. ¿Tostones o amarillos?
2. Banano-Banana-Guineo-Plátano


¡Hasta la próxima!

¡Pura Vida!

It's time to pick up where I left off with my adventures in Costa Rican Spanish.  I probably should have started with this one, but it's never too late so let's get to it.



Pura vida is practically the national slogan of Costa Rica.  Pura vida is more than just words, it's a way of life. It's all about taking things easy and just enjoying life.  Kinda like "Don't worry, be happy".  Here are the basics of how it's used.

Hola mae, ¿cómo va?  ¿Pura vida?
Pura vida mae

Hi dude, how are you?  It's all good?
It's all good dude

By the way, mae is pronounced "my".  And tuanis (two-juan-knees) is considered a synonym of pura vida.

¿Cómo está mae? 
Tuanis

How are you dude?
Great

If your Spanish is good or you're up for a challenge, here's a good (and relatively short) read about tuanis.  But if you want some insight from the experts then click here to learn more cool Costa Rican slang.

Let's move on to the next topic.

If you happen to be driving in Costa Rica, there is no shortage of parking, which I know as estacionamento, but in Costa Rica it's known as parqueo.



Here's an interesting street sign:


At first I thought "Is this a typo?".    I had never seen the word virar before, but it's meaning (thanks to the sign) was pretty obvious:

No virar a la izquierda
No left turn

This jumped out at me because I'm used to seeing signs that say "No girar a la izquierda".  But it's always nice to have options right?


While walking through downtown San Jose I saw a shoe store named Cachos.


Cachos is not only the name of the store, but it's also slang for shoes.  When I confirmed it's meaning with my tico friend he also told me they use caballo for jeans and chema for shirt.

Like any other city San Jose has it's share of corner stores and in Costa Rica these corner stores are called pulperías.



I was fortunate enough to get a candid shot of Costa Rica's new presidente.  He just happened to be campaigning downtown.  If you're curious about the details of the election, here's an article, in Spanish of course.



The last thing I'm going to talk about in this post is Costa Rican plata.  Plata is slang for dinero.  If you want to learn some more slang words for dinero, you can read my post Más minutos menos lana.

Costa rican money is called colones.  Here are some pictures:


I love the currency of Costa Rica, it's very colorful.  Way more fun than our boring American dollars.

That's it for today.  I think one more post will wrap up my Costa Rican adventures, so stay tuned.  If you missed the other posts, you can find them here:

1.  Tiene que cancelar la entrada
2.  ¿Vas a poner la maría?

¡hasta la próxima!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tiene que cancelar la entrada

My faithful readers, you are in for a big surprise today.  What is it you ask?  Instead of talking about Mexican Spanish as I so often do, I'll be sharing my experiences from my trip to Costa Rica.  This will probably take more than one post, so the first thing I'm going to talk about is the Spanish (Costa Rican slang) I heard.



The were two words that I must have heard every 5 minutes that stick out in my mind.  Mae and buenas.  Let's start with mae.

Mae, or maes in plural is the Costa Rican version of dude.  I heard this everywhere.  And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere.  It was being used by men and women of all ages.

Hola mae, ¿cómo estás?
Hi dude, how are you?

Oye mae
Hey dude

Maes, ¿adónde vamos?
Dudes (guys/fellas) where are we going?

By the way, mae is pronounced "my".

Next is buenas.  Buenas simply an informal greeting, a shortened version of buenos días and buenas tarde/noche.  You can use it any time of day or night, and to be honest I could probably count the number of times I heard anything else used as a greeting on one hand.

My Spanish is far from perfect, but it's gotten good enough to the point that it's rare that I'm completely stumped.  But apparently it's not that rare.

 Tiene que cancelar la entrada

I was walking into a night club when I heard this.  While I understood each and every single word clearly I had no idea what he was talking about.

As far as I knew, the verb cancelar (according to the dictionary) meant to cancel or void.  So my mind starts racing trying to figure this out.  I knew entrada meant cover charge/entrance fee, so is he telling me I can't go in?

¿Qué diablos me esta diciendo este mae?
What the hell is this dude saying to me?

Well, I didn't have to wait long to find out what he was saying.  He points to the caja (In this case the window where  you have to pay the entrance fee) and now I know what's going on.

Tiene que cancelar la entrada
You have to pay the cover

And when I paid the exit fee to leave Costa Rica, the receipt was stamped cancelado.

Apparently cancelar and pagar can be used as synonyms in Costa Rica.  And now that I "doy cuenta" (realize) what he was saying, I remember a friend had told me his story of the same thing happening to him in Colombia.  Now you all know and hopefully won't be taken by surprise.




I noticed the word hale on several doors.  Obviously this means pull.  What I found surprising is that I've seen this as jale in Mexico.

I overheard a couple of maes using the word guilas.  A guila is nothing more than a colloquial way to refer to a woman.

Mae, mira estas guilas
Dude, check out those girls

Bretear means to work.

Tengo que bretear hoy
I have to work today

¿Breteas hoy?
Are you working today?

While I was browsing through a souvenir shop, a young lady told me:

Tenemos paños

Once again my so-called improved Spanish that rarely leaves me stumped has left me stumped once again.  She explained to me that paño means towel.  The dictionary calls it a rag, but hey, close enough, right?  She also told me they aren't always synonyms.

I'll leave you with a few more words before I wrap this up.  In fact, I probably should have started with these.

People from Costa Rica are costarricenses.  But locally they're know as ticos and ticas.  Ticos are men and ticas are woman.

¿Eres tico?
Are you Costa Rican?

That's it for today.  I still have a few more words for you and some more fotos, so stay tuned.  In the mean time, click here if you want to learn a little more about Costa Rican slang.

Be sure to check out the rest of my posts on my experiences in Costa Rica.

1.  ¡Pura vida!
2.  ¿Vas a poner la maría?


You also might want to check out some of my other travel related posts.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

¿Me puede pasar corriente?

Sometimes I'm amazed at the amount of Spanish I know.  Until I'm abruptly reminded of how much Spanish I don't know.

One night after enjoying a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I was completely surprised by what happened next.

Se murió la batería de mi coche
My car battery died

To be honest, while that was aggravating, what bothered me even more was the fact that I had to ask for a jump in English.  I didn't even have a clue as to how to ask for a jump in Spanish.  So today I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you.

¿Me puede pasarcorriente?
Can you give me a jump?


That was easy wasn't it?  Let's look at some vocabulary and learn a few other things you'll need to know.

Jumper cables are called cables para pasar corriente.

¿Tienes cables para pasar corriente?
Do you have jumper cables?




The jumper cable clamps are called pinzas.



Now we know how to ask for jumper cables, we're halfway there.

There are two words for battery in Spanish, pilas and batería.  You want to use batería when in comes to talking about your car battery.


The cables para pasar corriente attach to the terminales (terminal for just one) of the batería.  And as you can see by picture you have a terminal positivo y terminal negativo.  And the dead battery is called the batería muerta.

La batería está muerta
The battery is dead

You have to conectar the pinzas to the terminales.

Conecta el cable con la pinza roja primero en la terminal positiva
Connect the cable with red clamp first to the positive terminal

Conecta la pinza negra a la terminal negativa
Connect the black clamp to the negative terminal




The next step is to encender or arrancar (start) the car.

Enciende/Arranca  el coche
Start the car

And finally, you need to retirar las pinzas from the terminales.

Retira las pinzas
Remove the clamps

And finally, here's a video where you can actually hear all of this and learn how to pasar corriente at the same time.


That's it!  Now you know everything you need to get a jump in Spanish.  And if your memory is as bad as mine, then you may want to consider downloading my android phrasebook app that will allow you keep these phrases and many more at your fingertips when you need them.

Before I let you go, here are some other posts you may like:

1.  Marque su pin
2.  Gira a la derecha, mas adelante

That's it for today, ¡Buena suerte!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Una paja por favor

Have you ever need to know how to ask for a straw in Spanish? Surprisingly, knowing how to say straw in Spanish can be more difficult than you might think.

I remember when I learned how to ask for a straw.  I considered this a victory and moved on.  Then I discovered there was more than one word for straw.  After that I discovered there were actually quite a few words for straw. 

Let's take a look at some of the words for how to say straw in Spanish:  Paja, pajita, caña, sorbete, cañita, pajilla, pitillo and popote.  




If you're wondering why there are so many words for straw, it's because they're all regional.  I'm not sure if there is a generally accepted word for straw, so if you have any suggestions feel free to leave a comment.

Let's revisit that list of translations for straw and I'll tell you what words are used in what country.  At least in general.

Catalunya (Spain) - caña
Rest of Spain - pajita
Argentina - pajita, sorbete
Peru- cañita, sorbete
Dominican Republic, Cuba - sorbete
Puerto Rico - sorbeto
El Salvador, Costa Rica - pajilla
Mexico - popote
Colombia, Venezuela - pitillo

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, those are just the words this gringo has heard of.  And the list comes with the additional disclaimer that it's based on my conversations, experience and opinion, so everyone may not agree with my list.  


I also want to point out that in certain parts of Spain a caña can also be a beer, so you really need to know your audience.

Now it's time to talk about the title of this post.

¿Una paja por favor?
A straw please?

Something as simple as asking for a paja can end up being a little embarrassing.  Yes, I know what you're thinking, how can asking for a straw be embarrassing? Let me explain.

It turns out paja has another not so innocent meaning.  And by not so innocent I mean vulgar.  It's also a way of referring to masturbation in some countries.  I won't go into detail on this blog, but you can read more about that here, on my blog about Swearing in Spanish.   If you're the paranoid type when you ask for a straw using the word paja you can clarify things by asking for a paja para beber.  Or you can simply avoid the word altogether by using pajita instead.

Let's get back to the real issue, straws.

For those of you who like pictures, here's a nice photo that also serves as a handy reference.  It was created by Veinte Mundos, which is a great (free) podcast site.  You should check it out.  




So what can you do to remember the right word at the right time?  My advice is to just learn the words the people you associate with use the most.  Beyond that you'll have to use good old-fashioned body language if you can't find the right word.


And that's it.  Now you're equipped with everything you need to know for how to say straw Spanish. 

Know any other words for straw or have some words of wisdom?  Leave your comments below!

¡Hasta la próxima!