Sunday, February 7, 2016

Estoy mamao

Abrazos y amapuches

This was the text message I got from my amiga venezolana.   While I didn't know exactly what it meant, from the context I knew it was a way of saying goodbye.   It's very common for Spanish speakers to end emails or chats with things like:

Besos
Besitos
Besos y abrazos
Un abrazo
Un abrazo fuerte

But amapuche had me at a complete loss.

So what is an amapuche?



In general, an amapuche is a hug, a caress, a kiss, a display of fondness, affection or any combination of the above.  You can give amapuches to your children, your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, your grandmother, to anyone you care about.

Now it's time for some examples.

Te envio un amapuche fuerte 
I'm sending you a big hug

A Ramon no le gusta que su abuelita le haga amapuches enfrente de la gente
Ramon doesn't like his grandmother to be affectionate with him in front of people

Te mando amapuches miles y a la family
Sending you and your family lots of hugs

Literally the phrase above says thousands of hugs, but that would sound odd in English so I just translated it to lots.  And while amapuches doesn't always mean hugs, it seems appropriate here.

Besos, abrazos y amapuches
Kisses, hugs and lots of love

I took some liberty with my translation of that one.  Translation can be a tricky business, and that last one definitely is a little tricky.  I'm hesitant to say amapuche means "lots of love" in this case, but translating it to anything else I could think of just didn't make sense in English.  Feel free to suggest a translation in the comments.

Se ve que están recién casados porque se la pasan de amapuche en amapuche
You can see they're newlyweds because they're all lovey-dovey

Tus caricias, tú, tus abrazos, , tus amapuches, , tus besos, ..Quedo claro que eres 
Your caresses, you, your hugs, you, your affections, you, your kisses, you..Are you clear that it's you?

Mi amor te mando un amapuche para que te quite el frio
My love, I'm sending you a hug to make the cold go away

María tiene algo con Juan porque los he visto con amapuches
María has something going on with Juan because I've seen them being lovey-dovey

Some of you may have noticed that my translations weren't necessarily literal, but amapuche is one of those words that you just have to know what it means.  It can be hard to translate because in some contexts it doesn't have an exact translation.


The word amapuche makes me think of it's Mexican equivalent, apapacho.   You may want to take a look at that one too.  And as an afterthought, neither of these are terms are actually Spanish, they come from one of the indigenous languages of Mexico and Venezuela.

No hay mejor medecino como un buen apapcho

There's also the verb amapuchar.  Amapuchar means to give someone a big hug, to squeeze them really tight.  It also means to show affection.

Ella me amapuchó muy fuerte
She gave me a really big hug

Quiero que me amapuches
I want you to show me some affection

You could also translate that last one as "I want you to hug me" or maybe even "I want you to caress me".  But like I said earlier, translation is a tricky business.  The idea is you need to give whoever it is you're talking to a little TLC.

Let's talk about a few other Venezuelan expressions I picked up from my amiga.

The first one is estar mamao.

You can look up the word mamao in the dictionary, but you might not find it.  And even if you do, it's meaning changes depending on what country you're in.  But there's one minor thing we need to talk about first.

Part of the reason you might not find the word mamao in the dictionary is because it's actual spelling should be mamado.  The d is dropped, and while you may find this surprising, this sort of thing happens all the time in Spanish.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, estar mamao means to be tired.  Physically tired or even tired of someone or doing something.   Here are some examples.

Estoy mamao
I'm tired

Ayer trabajé muy duro todo el día, estoy mamao
I worked really hard all day yesterday, I'm tired

Si no estoy mamao , voy
If I'm not tired, I'll go

To talk about being tired of something or someone, you have to add de:

Estoy mamao de tanto escribir hoy
I'm tired of writing so much today

Estoy mamao de trabajar los sábados
I'm tired of working on Saturdays

Next we come to the word limpio.  Limpio means clean in Spanish, but in Venezuela it takes on an additional meaning.

Estoy limpio
I don't have any money

A more accurate translation might be "I'm broke".

Here's another example:

He caminado más que puta limpia
I've walked more than a prostitute with no money

By the way, the word puta is a vulgar way of saying prostitute, so be careful with this one.

After a few of these conversations with my amiga, I realized this wasn't my first encounter with Venezuelan Spanish.   Flashing back, that first encounter was years ago with the word pana.

Every Spanish speaking country seems to have its own word for friend or dude, and in Venezuela that word is pana.  You can use it to refer to both men and women, but it's probably much more commonly used between men.

¿Pana cómo estás?
How are you my friend?

El director es pana mía
The director is a friend of mine

Voy a tomarme unos tragos con los panas
I'm going to have some drinks with my friends

You can also use pana to describe someone as being cool or friendly.

Soy muy pana con todos
I'm very friendly with everyone

Es un chamo bien pana
He's a really cool (or nice) guy

By the way, chamo or chama can be used as a synonym of muchacho or muchacha.

There's one last word I want to talk to about, chévere.  This one is actually a staple of both Venezuelan and Colombian Spanish.  I don't think it's possible to have a conversation with someone from Colombia or Venezuela without hearing this word.  OK, I'm exaggerating, but it's extremely common and you'll hear it a lot.  Rumor has it chévere originated in Cuba.  It's also used in a few other countries, but Venezuela and Colombia typically get the credit for it.

La camiseta que compraste está super chévere
That t-shirt you bought is really cool


¿Cómo te va? Todo chévere
How's it going?  It's all good

Ella es chévere
She's really nice (or cool)

¡Qué chévere!
That's great!

Qué chévere la fiesta
This party is great

Qué chévere me siento hoy
I feel really great today

¿Cómo estás? ¡Chévere!
How are you? Great!


 ¿Cómo estás? ¡Chévere cambur!
How are you? Awesome!

I know what you're thinking, what the heck is cambur?  Well, cambur is the word for banana in Venezuela.



Surprisingly there are a quite a few words for banana.  You may want to read my previous posts on banana related Spanish.

¿Tostones o los amarillos?

Banano-Banana-Guineo-Plátano

OK, I digress.  Let's get back on track.

Chévere cambur is just a way to emphasis how great you feel.   But there's an even cooler expression that sin duda is the mark of a Venezolano.

 ¿Cómo estás? Chévere cambur pintón

Translation?  Something along the lines of I feel totally awesome.

My country is totally awesome

As you can see by the image the phrase can apply to more than just people.

And that's it for today.  Now go forth and impress your Venezuelan amigos!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Español en las calles de Tijuana

It's been a long time since I've posted anything, but with 2016 now upon us I plan on being back in the saddle with a lot more of the posts you all have enjoyed over the years.

And with hopes of making up for my lack of activity, I'm going to share with you my first ever podcast.  I've posted the transcript and a translation below for you to follow if you need it.  I speak at a relatively slow and consistent pace, so it shouldn't be to hard to keep up with.

Click here download the podcast from iVoox, for free of course:  Español en las calles de Tijuana

Also, the transcript (not the translation) is part of the audio file to make it even more convenient for you follow along.  Please leave your comments below and let me know if you enjoyed it and whether or not you'd like to see me do more.

¡Que disfruten!



Español en las calles de Tijuana
My name is Rodney and in this podcast I’m going to talk about the Spanish I’ve learned during my visits to Baja Norte, or Northen Baja, primarily the city of Tijuana.  Over the years I’ve heard quite a few words and expressions that are unique to Mexico that I want to share with you.  You won’t find these words and expressions in your Spanish textbook, but you’ll hear them all the time as you travel throughout Mexico.
The rest of this podcast will be in Spanish, but don’t worry, you can follow along with the transcript if you need to.  OK, let’s get started.
Primero, para llegar a Tijuana, tienes que cruzar la frontera. Pero no se cruza la frontera, se cruza la linea. Eso se llama la frontera en Tijuana.   First, to get to Tijuana you have to cross the border.  But you don’t cross the border, you cross the line.  That’s what you call the border in Tijuana.  
 Y cuando quieres regresar a los estados unidos  puedes decir “Voy al otro lado” o “Voy a gringolandía“.
And when you want to go back to the United States you can say “I’m going to the other side” or “I’m going to gringo land“.

Bueno, ya estamos en Tijuana y una de las primeras cosas hay que saber para hablar como un buen Tijuanense, o sea, una persona nacida en Tijuana, es que mucha gente simplemente llama a la cuidad Tijuas.
Good, now we’re in Tijuana and one of the first things you have to know to speak like a tijuanense, or a person born in Tijuana, is that a lot of people simply call the city Tijuas.
Cuando te encuentras en la Avenida Revolución, o La Revu, lo que vas a escuchar mil veces es “Pásale Amigo, Pásale”. When you find yourself on Revolution Avenue, or The Rev (La Revu), what you’ll hear a thousand times is “Pásale Amigo, Pásale”.
   * There really isn’t a translation for La Revu, but what I proposed above is  roughly the English equivalent.
En Mexico pásale significa “come in”.  Pero en pocas palabras, cuando dicen  “pásale amigo es una manera de decir “por qué no entras en mi tienda y echas un vistazo a la mercancía”.   In Mexico pásale means “come in”.     In short, when they say come in my   friend. It’s a way of saying “Why      don’t you come into my store and  take a look at the merchandise?”
Mientras caminas por las calles, es imposible no escuchar la palabra wey. While you walk through the streets  it’s impossible not to hear the word wey.

Wey es una de las palabras
coloquiales más usada en todo 
México.
Wey is one of the informal words  most used throughout all of Mexico.
¿Y qué significa wey? And what does wey mean?
Es una manera muy informal para llamar a alguien amigo, compa, o tipo. En ingles  la palabra más parecida es dude. It’s an informal way to call someone friend, bro or guy. The most comparable word in English is dude.
Unos ejemplos: A few examples:
- Wey, ¿Qué haces?    – Dude, what are you doing?
- ¿Cómo estás wey?    – How are you dude?
- Vamos por unas cervezas wey.    – Let’s go get some beers dude.
Ahora vamos de hablar de la expresión  “¿Qué onda”? que es un saludo muy común entre amigos y es uno de los saludos más usado en todo México.

.
Now let’s talk about the expression qué onda.  It’s a very common greeting between friends and is one of the most used greetings in all of Mexico.
Qué onda es una manera muy informal para decir que tál, o en inglés, what’s up? Qué onda is a very informal way of saying qué tal, or what’s up.
  – ¿Qué onda wey?    – What’s up dude?
  – ¿Qué onda con tu vida?    – What’s up with your life?
      * This may sound strange in English, but is very natural in Spanish
Ahora les voy a hablar de unas palabras que tienen un uso interesante en México.  La primera es el verbo ocupar. Now I’m going to talk about a few words that have an interesting use in Mexico. The first is the verb ocupar.
En mexico, pues, por lo menos Tijuana, se usa ocupar como sinonimo de necesitar. In Mexico, well, at least in Tijuana, ocupar is used as a synonym of necesitar.
 Unos ejemplos: Some examples:
 - Ocupo trabajo    – I need work
 - Ocupo dinero    – I need money
 - Ocupo un taxi    – I need a taxi
Cuando estás hablando con alguien y no escuchas o no entiendes algo y When you’re speaking with someone and you didn’t hear or don’t understand
quieres pedir que la persona repita lo que dijo, hay varias opciones: something and you want to ask the person to repeat what they said, there are several options:
¿Qué has dicho?,  ¿Cómo dijo? , ¿Cómo? , ¿perdon?,  ¿Cómo dice?  ¿Disculpe? What did you say?  What was that? (A very polite) What? Pardon? What’d you day?  Excuse me?
Pero en México casi siempre lo que vas a escuchar en vez de ese termino es ¿mande?. But in Mexico what you’re almost always going to hear is “mande?”
Mande es una expresión de cortesía con la que aún hoy los padres corrigen a sus hijos Mande is an expression of courtesy that even today parents use to correct their children:
 - ¡No se dice¿qué?”, se dice “mande”!   – You don’t say what, you say pardon me
       * Pardon me isn’t an exact translation, but mande is a more formal and polite way of saying what.
Si quieres andar por la cuidad, los taxis son muy baratos. A lo mejor estás acustumbrado a decir coger o tomar un taxi, pero en México se dice agarrar un taxi. If you want to wander around the city taxis are very cheap.  You may be used to saying coger or tomar to talk about taking a taxi, but in Mexico you use agarrar to talk about taking a taxi.
Los autobuses estan aún más baratos, pero no se dice autobús, se dice camión. The buses are even cheaper, but you don’t say autobús, you say camión.

Tijuana tiene una vida nocturna muy buena.  Pero en Tijuana nadie va de fiesta, sino van de party. Sí, party, exactamente como decimos en inglés.  En La Revu y la calle sexta hay muchos bares, restaurantes y antros. Tijuana has a very good nightlife.  But in Tijuana no one uses the word fiesta, rather they say party.  Yes, party, exactly the same as what we say in English. On Revolución Avenue and Sixth street there are a lot of bars, restaurants and night clubs.

Por cierto, un antro es una disco.   * The dialog uses antro for nightclub, which in Mexican Spanish is used instead of discoteca. Please note that the word antro can have a different meaning in other countries.

Y claro la gente le gustan disfrutar de unas cervezas.  Puedes pedir sola una cerveza, pero pedir una cubeta de cerveza es mucho más común.  Una cubeta es un bucket, que usualmente vienen de entre cinco o doce cervezas, depende en el bar y lo que pidas. And of course people love to enjoy a few beers.  You can order just one, but it’s much more common to order a cubeta of beer.  A cubeta is a bucket that usually comes with five to twelve beers, depending on the bar and what you
Otra palabra para cerveza es chela.  Y no puedes ir a Tijuana sin disfrutar de un buen caballito.  ¿Qué es un caballito?  Un trago, o sea un shot de tequila. Another word for beer is chela.  And you can’t go to Tijuana without enjoying a good caballito.  What is a caballito? A swallow, or rather a shot of tequila.
Y para que sepas, también dicen shot.
And just so you know, they also say shot.

Tijuana no solo tiene buena vida nocturna, también una gastronomía de primer nivel.  Pero seguro que el hecho más conocido de la gastronomía mexicana es que a los mexicanos les encantan lo picante.  Pero a veces en vez de decir algo es picante, dicen pica.  Así que, en vez de preguntar si una comida o salsa es picante, puedes decir:
Tijuana doesn’t only have a good nightlife, they also have a first class gastronomy. But surely the most well known fact of Mexican gastronomy is that Mexicans enjoy spicy food.  But sometimes instead of saying spicy (picante),they say it bites (pica).  So, instead of asking if a dish or salsa is spicy,you can say:
  – ¿Pica?   – Does it bite?
  – ¿Pica mucho?   – Does it have a lot of bite to it?
  – Quiero una salsa que pique.
 – I want a salsa that has some bite to it
  – ¿Hay una salsa que no pica?
 – Is there a salsa that doesn’t have a bite to it?
Bueno, eso es todo por hoy.  Espero que hayan disfrutado esta pequeña lección del español mexicano.  Gracias por escuchar, ¡chao! Well, that’s all for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this small lesson on Mexican Spanish.  Thanks for listening, bye!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eso que ni que

So there I was, texting away with my carnal:

Yo:  Hay que disfrutar la vida
Mi carnal:  Eso que ni que

By the way, carnal is Mexican Spanish for brother, either by blood or a close friendship.

Eso que ni que

I had never even seen that before. Clearly a literal translation wasn't going to work:

That what neither what

I didn't see his reply until a few hours later, so I wasn't able to ask him what it meant.

My mind was scrambling trying to figure that one out.  A few Google searches later and verifying my research with another of one my Mexican amigos, I finally found out what it meant.

Yo:  Hay que disfrutar la vida
Me: You have to enjoy life

Mi carnal:  Eso que ni que
My buddy: I totally agree

I won't say "I totally agree" is a direct translation, but it certainly captures the meaning.  Eso que ni que is way of saying you absolutely agree with what's being said or that something is very clear, leaving no doubt.

Here's another example:

Si me quitan ésta muela me dejara de doler
If they take this tooth out it'll stop hurting me

Eso que ni que

No doubt about it

It's very a common Mexican expression and if you want to say it in standard Spanish, it would be something close to definitivamente, no hay duda or sin duda, any way of expressing your agreement with the other person would work.

Well, another mystery solved.  But guess what?  It reminded me of a few other expressions involving que.

Eso que ni que is a statement of agreement and ni que nada is an expression of negation or denial, kind of like when we say "my foot", "no way"  or maybe even "in your dreams" to add emphasis.  You're saying that whatever it is they're asking for is not going to happen.

Party my foot 
There's a lot do around here

Let me point out the creator of our meme has some pretty bad ortografía (spelling).  Ay should be hay and aser should be hacer.  That aside, ni que nada is a very common expression, at least in Mexican Spanish.

Here's another example:

A: El me dijo que era contador
     He told me he was an account

B: ¿Qué contador ni que nada? Él no ha terminado la Universidad
     What do you mean an accountant?  He hasn't even finished college

 That brings us to our next expression, ni que ocho cuartos.  If you're attempting to translate it literally, forget it - Not even 8 rooms.  Nope, makes no sense at all.  But it's actually not that hard to understand.

Keep calm?
No way, Colombia is playing today

Ni que nada and ni que ocho cuartos are synonyms, used in the same way.

Here are a few more examples.

Your 13 year old daughter says she wants a boyfriend:

Que novio, ni que ocho cuartos
 Boyfriend? That's not gonna happen

¡Qué fiesta ni que ocho cuartos, ¡te vas a quedar en casa!
Party my foot, you're staying at home!

And like ni que nada, this is a very common expression. Both of them place a lot of emphasis on the fact that something is being denied.

Here are few more examples:

¿Puedo salir a jugar?
Can I go out and play?

¡Qué jugar ni qué ocho cuartos! ¡A hacer la tarea!
Go out and play my foot.! Go do your homework!

¿Me dejas quedarme en la casa de Pedro?
Will you let me stay at Pedro's house?

¡Ni ocho cuartos!
Absolutely not!

Well that's it for today.  Take these expressions and impress your Spanish friends with your new found knowledge.

Here a few other posts of Mexican expressions that you might also like:

  1. ¿Que me ves?
  2. ¿Por qué no te echas un coyotito?
  3. Ahorita vengo

Lastly, don't forget you can follow the blog on Facebook!

¡Hasta la próxima!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

¿De tela o chócolo?

In this post I'm going to continue sharing my Spanish languages adventures in Medellín, Colombia.  If you missed the first installment, no worries, you can read it here:  Holo bebé, ¿qué más pues?

One of the first things I tend to do when I get off the plane is exchange money and grab a bite to eat.  Exchanging money is usually a pretty straight-forward transaction.  I'll have to blog about it so that when you have to do it completely in Spanish for the first time you won't feel lost.  In the meantime, you can find plenty of helpful phrases for changing money and everything travel related in general in my favorite Spanish Phrasebook for android, called My Spanish Phrasebook.  Alright, I digress, let's get to it.

In México I've had to show a passport to exchange money on occasion, but this time I had to let them take a huella, or finger print of my dedo índice (index finger).  Not a big deal, it just took me by surprise.  By the way, if you want to know what the other fingers are called, then read my post Pulgar Arriba

So after getting some Colombian Pesos in my pocket (I'll show you what those look like in a later post) checking into the hotel was up next.  I won't go into detail about that, you can read my post ¿A qué hora es la hora de entrada? to learn how to check into a hotel.  After that it was time to get to one of my favorite past times, eating.

So I headed downtown and came across a food stand selling arepas de chócolo.  


I didn't know what chócolo was, and it didn't look like any arepa I had ever seen, but it did look tasty, so I ordered one.  And it turned tenía razón (I was right), it was delicious!   

What is chócolo you ask?  Nothing but good old-fashioned maíz.


Now that we know what chócolo is, we can figure what an arepa de chócolo is.  It's what we might call sweet corn cake.  


You may have noticed the above photo is missing that white triangular stuff that was on top of arepas in the first picture.  And if you're wondering what that was, it's queso cuajado.  I'm not a cheese guy, so if it isn't a slice of Kraft American cheese I can't help you, but the definition of queso cuajado is curd cheese. 



The combination of an arepa and queso cuajado is something you have to try.  I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I fell in love with it.  

Here's a little chócolo humor for you if you want a good laugh and a have just a little over a minute to spare. Click here to watch it in Youtube if you can't see the link.


OK, now that you've had a chance to put those Spanish ears to work let's keep going.

There's actually more than one type of arepa served in Medellín.  The other one is called an arepa tela.  I have to admit, I didn't like these quite as much, but they weren't bad. 


While Medellín has a variety of foods, the most famous dish you have to try is the Bandeja Paisa.


As you can see by the photo, that's quite a bit of food.  Arroz, frijoles, chicharron, huevo, aguacate, carne and plátanos maduros.  Bandeja Paisa is a hearty meal for sure. 

I think that's going to wrap this post up.  Stayed tune for the next one where I'll share a little more Colombian Spanish and tell you about a quaint little place called Pueblito Paisa and more.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

¿Hola bebé qué más pues?

I've been traveling again, but this time I went to a new destination:  Medellin, Colombia.


Let's talk about some of the Spanish I heard.

As far as greetings (saludos) go, I heard the typical buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches, but what I also heard a lot of was simply buenas.  I heard it a lot.  If you aren't familiar with buenas, it's an informal greeting that you can use anytime of day. 

There was another greeting I heard quite a bit, and as far as I know, it is uniquely Colombian. Watch the video.  It's all of 6 seconds, so it won't take long.  If you don't see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube.



Didn't catch that?  Here's the transcript:

¿Cómo tu saludas a los niños de tu jardin?
How do you say hi to the kids in your Kindergarten class?


¿Hola bebé qué más pues? 
Hey baby, how are you?


She's so cute, I couldn't help but share that video with you.  Now, you may not hear the word "bebé" from just anybody, but without a doubt you'll hear "¿Qué más?" or "¿Qué más pues?".  It's really just the Colombian version of "¿Cómo estás?".

Did you notice that pues on the end?  It doesn't really mean anything, it's just a word paisas attach on the end of words, like, all the time.

Here are some examples:  Chao pues,Vamos pues


I took that photo from the top of the stairs, which is why the sign says baja.

Oh, remember that word paisas you just saw?  If you're wondering what a paisa is, let me give you the short version.   A paisa is a person from Medellin, a rolo is someone from Bogotá, a caleño is from Cali, and the people from the coast (e.g. Cartegena and Baranquilla) are costeños.   And that my friends, is my 1 minute, over simplified and very incomplete lesson on who is who in Colombia.   I recommend you talk to your Colombian friends to get the real deal on Colombian geography and demographics.  What I just told you will barely help you squeak by.


Other expressions that  are nearly impossible to miss are A la orden and con gusto.  Let's take a look at these.

It all started the first time I told someone gracias.  The response  I expected was de nada, but instead I got a la orden.  I heard that a few times and thought, I got this, no problem.  Then one more gracias later the response was con gusto.  Let's take a closer look at the context I heard these in.

From what I recall, I heard con gusto more in restaurants.  The mesero or mesera would bring me something and I'd say gracias,  and they would reply con gusto.  In my hotel if I said gracias to a staff member, the typical reply would be a la orden.  Except the bartender.  I'm pretty sure I heard him use both.  If I asked for something or asked someone to do something for me, like call a cab, they would also reply a la orden.

Now, we're not quite done with a la orden.  I also heard this walking past shops when the proprietors wanted to get my attention.   In this context it's more like "May I help you?".  I have to say it's a nice change from hearing "Pásale amigo" in Mexico.

If you think you're going to Ir de fiesta (go partying) in Medellin, forget it.  In Medellin you Ir de rumba! Medellin has a great night life, with no shortage of places to rumba in.  And rumba means party if you haven't guessed that by now.

Brain, what are we going to do this weekend?
The same thing we do every weekend, Go partying.


And that is enough for this first installment of my Colombian experience.  In the next post I'll talk about some more Colombian Spanish, food, and a few of the places I visited.

By the way, if you're looking for a good Spanish phrasebook for your android phone to help you out when you travel, check out My Spanish Phrasebook, it certainly helped me out of a jam a couple of times this trip.  It was written by me, so you can rest assured it's got all the Spanish you need to help you navigate your way around a Spanish speaking country and communicate with the locals.

¡Chao pues!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pásale Amigo, Pásale

When you're walking up and down Tijuana's most famous street, Revolution Avenue, or La Revu as it is affectionately called by los tijuanenses, you'll hear the word pásale a thousand times.  It's said by the shop owners trying to convince you to come in and take a look their goods.

Pásale Amigo, Pásale
Come in my friend, come in

And if you happen to be walking in the direction of the border (la frontera), also informally called la linea, you'll hear "Taxi amigo?".  Actually, it doesn't matter which you're going, virtually every taxista you see is going to ask you if you want a cab.

There are a lot of other things you're going to hear when you walk up and down the streets of Mexico and start talking to people, and that's what this post is about, some of the interesting Spanish (well, interesting to me) I heard on my latest visit to Mexico.  Some of the things I heard weren't exactly PG, but they are words and expressions used everyday, and if you expect to understand and be understood, these are things you need to know.

Let's get to it.

We all know what this ugly little creature is.


The photo alone gives me the creeps.  But I digress.  The dictionary translates mosquito as mosquito.  That's the word I knew.  Easy, right?  Life is good and that's one less Spanish word to learn.  Well, life was good until someone threw out the words  zancudo and mosco


This one really threw me for a loop, the verb ocupar.  Oddly enough I heard it used in the context of "to need":

Cuándo ocupes taxi no hay, y cuando no ocupes hay taxis por todos lados
 When you need a taxi there aren't any, and when you don't need a taxi they're everywhere

This wasn't first time I heard ocupar used that way, but it stuck out like a sore thumb this time.  And if you're wondering why I find this so odd, it's because nowhere in the definition of ocupar does it say it means "to need".  And based on my research so far, Nothern Mexico seems to be the only place that uses ocupar in this way, but I'll write more about that another time.


While I was having margaritas at an old friends restaurant (yes, two of those were mine) we were talking about unusual and unpleasant jobs people have, and he threw out the phrase Hay que sacar la papa.  I had no idea what he meant by getting the potatoes out, so I had to ask.

Basically it means, at least in this context, to make a living.  And while I didn't realize it at first, I've heard the verb sacar used in a related, but slightly different fashion before:


Que onda wey, ¿saca las chelas no?
What's up dude, you're buying the beers right?


Agarrar la onda is another expression I heard. While it wasn't my first time hearing this, it was the first time I heard it in a context that helped me figure out what it means.

Agarrar la onda, to catch on, get the hang of things. 

Estás agarrando la onda
You're getting the hang of things


My daughter asked me for a few things, so I found myself shopping at the swap meet in Tijuana.  Yes, they have swap meets in Tijuana and I presume in all of Mexico as well.  Don't feel bad, I was as shocked as you.  Anyway, as I was walking through the maze of passageways a vendedor tried to get my attention by shouting out:

Que tranza holmes

Surprisingly, It wasn't the que tranza that got my attention.  I've heard that expression before, it's a very colloquial, and I assume Mexican, way of saying what's up.  Holmes, on the other hand, I haven't heard since the 90's.

Ruca is a word you'll hear frequently, at least in a conversation between guys talking about women.  It started off referring to an older woman, una antigua, but now it's just a way of referring to a woman.

Vieja is used the same way.  Although with vieja, you can use it to refer to your mom, wife or girlfriend as well.  Keep in mind that they may not appreciate that, but if you're talking with friends it's OK. 

Fodongo is another word I heard pop up a few times.  I wrote about it a few years back.  Take a look.

Simón is a very informal way of agreeing with someone.  It's the equivalent of yeah.

Carnal is something like bro and used when you consider someone a good friend.  It can also mean brother, as in your real brother.

Your Spanish book will tell you ¿Cómo? is the proper way to ask some what they said, but in Mexico what you're going to hear instead is ¿Mande?  Honestly, I think I was the only person in the entire country using cómo. 

Nothing says Mexican like the word Órale.  If you plan on spending a lot of time in Mexico or talking to Mexicans, you'd better get a good handle on this word.  I've written about órale as well.

There's a great little place to have breakfast in Tijuana right off of Revolution Avenue.


I've forgotten exactly what it was I ordered, but when I was paying the bill the gentleman at the caja (register) asked me ¿Te late?.  To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention and what he said didn't click until a few hours later.

Te late is a very informal way of saying te gusta.  He was asking me if I enjoyed my meal.  But you can use te late anytime you want to ask someone if they like something.

¿Te late la comida mexicana?
Do you like Mexican food?

This next one isn't really polite, but you'll hear in it conversations with real people in Mexico.

Eres puto


If you know what the word mujeriego means, then you'll have no problem understanding this usage of the word puto.  It's a way of calling a man a womanizer, or player.  He messes around with a lot of women.  A friend of mine was the "victim" of this phrase but it was a fun conversation and we got a lot of laughs out of it.  You can also use the word golfo.

I blogged in detail about the word puto in one of my sister blogs,  No Seas Pelangoche (all about bad words in Spanish), because even though this usage is innocent enough, it's still a bad word and has several other meanings, which is why it belongs on No Seas Pelangoche.  By the way, if you're easily offended No Seas Pelangoche is not for you, because I give you the most accurate translations possible, in very frank and direct language.  Otherwise I think you'll find it a fun and interesting site.

Take a look at this picture.



In Spanish this beautiful bird is a called a cotorra, or parrot in English.  And we've all heard the expression about people who talk like a parrot.  Apparently our Spanish speaking friends have heard this one too. 

Tengo una amiga catorra
I have a friend who's a chatterbox

I wouldn't say that's a literal translation, but it certainly conveys the spirit of the word.

Wey is another high percentage word you'll hear on the street, which means dude.  I don't think I could possibly count the number of times I heard this a day.  Read my post on the word wey

Cabrón is another word you'll hear which has a variety of meanings depending on the context of the conversation.  It's another one of those words that's not exactly for polite company but highly used between friends and in very informal conversations on the street.  Yeah, you guessed it, I wrote about cabrón before too, you can read about it on No Seas Pelongoche


Pinche is basically the equivalent of the F bomb in English.  You'll very often hear it combined with the word weyPinche wey.  And yeah, you guessed it, you can read about it on No Seas Pelangoche if you want more detail.

I think we've covered enough bad words and you've probably figured out where to go to learn more.  Let me close things out with an interesting phrase I picked up.

¿Cómo estás?
Bien, en lo que cabe

Bien, en lo que cabe translates to something like "given/under the circumstances",  "as well as can be expected" or "considering".  It implies that the person is having some degree of issues or problems, but outside of that is doing just fine.

Well, that's it! I hope you found this post helpful and gave you a little more insight into Mexican Spanish.  I'll leave you with this list of books in Amazon on Mexican Spanish.  I have them in my collection and found them really helpful.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ya colgó los tenis

Nobody likes it, but tarde o temprano, we have to talk about someone who's "in a better place".  Not my favorite topic, but it's something you should know.

The a very common way to refer to people who have died is with one of two verbs, morirse or fallecer.

La actiz se murió
The actress died

Se murío is rather direct and to the point.   Fallecer is what you'll hear on the news.

La actríz falleció
The actress died

But in all honesty, you've probably seen those in your Spanish book.  We're here to learn about a few of the more creative ways to talk about el fallecido (la fallecida for a woman), so let's get to it.


Se colgó su tenis

Colgar los tenis literally means to hang up your tennis shoes.  Figuratively it means someone died.

Oye, hace mucho tiempo que no hablo con Pedro, ¿Cómo está?
Uyyy, ¿no sabias?  Pedro se colgó los tenis hace un año.

Hey, it's it's been a long time since I spoke with Pedro, how is he?
Oh, you didn't know?  Pedro died a year ago.

Colgó los tenis is very informal, so if you need to break the news to someone gently, this probably isn't the expression you want.

You can also say ya colgó los tenis.

Here's a fun one, ponerse el traje de madera.

If you don't have a clue as to what Pijamas de madera are, here's a hint.


Wooden pajamas refer to a coffin, or ataúd in Spanish.

Se puso el pijama de madera
He put on his wooden pajamas

Estirar la pata is generally accepted as the best translation for the English phrase to kick the bucket.

Ya estiró la pata
He kicked the bucket

Entregar el equipo is useful if you want to use a sports related phrase.

Ya entregó el equipo
He turned in his equipment

And remember, you shouldn't use any of the above expressions when you need to be caring and sensitive.

There are actually many more ways to talk about death, but why not hear them from real Mexicans with your own ears?  Here's link to some guys who run a YouTube channel called ZMG for U, and they give the run down on everything you should know, including a few cultural tips to help keep you out of trouble.



Let's close out today's post with something fun.  Here's a phrase we use all the time in English.

¿Que traes en la bolsa, una cadáver?
What do you have in your purse/bag, a body?

You may be tempted to use cuerpo instead of cadáver, but don't. 

Well that's it for today.  Don't forget you can also follow this blog on Facebook.   Also don't forget to check out my sister blog, Helping You Learn Spanish where I take a stab at simplifying the textbook side of Spanish so you can learn more faster without all the grammar double-talk.

¡Hasta la próxima!