Spanglish

A pocketbook for understanding the Mexican's slang.

¡: An upside-down exclamation point. Put in front of an exclamatory sentence.

¿: An upside-down question mark. Put in front of a question.

˜: A tilde. Put over the letter "n" from time to time to produce a sound that sounds like nyuck. The only such occurrence of such a sound in the world.

Aztlán: The mythical birthplace of the Aztecs. Chicanos use this term to describe the Southwest United States. Chicanos are idiots.

Baboso: A slug. Can also mean "asshole."

Burrito: Flour tortilla wrapped around various foodstuffs. America's favorite Mexican food . . . but the burrito is native to California.

Cabrón: Literally, a castrated goat. Mexicans understand it better as "asshole."

Chica caliente: Hot chick. All Mexican ladies are chicas calientes.

Chicano: The poorer, stupider, more assimilated cousins of Mexicans. Otherwise known as a Mexican-American.

Chingar: To fuck. Its various tenses are used for a delightful array of insults like chingadera ("fucked-up situation"), chingazos ("punches thrown"), and chinga tu madre, cabrón ("Go fuck your mother, asshole").

Chino: Literally "Chinese," but the catchall phrase Mexicans use for Asians regardless of nationality.

Chúntaro: A Mexican redneck. Term used mostly by Mexicans against each other.

Cinco de Mayo: Holiday celebrating an obscure battle between the French and Mexicans in the 1860s that everyone in the United States uses as an excuse to get plastered. Our St. Patrick's Day.

Conquest, The: Refers to the Spanish conquest of the Americas during the 1500s. Centuries later, Mexicans still can't get over it—but having about 100 million of your ancestors slaughtered will do that to you.

El Otro Lado: The other side. Otherwise known as the United States.

Familia: Guess. You're right: family! If you believe the mainstream media, the most important thing in Mexican culture after tequila.

Gabacho: A gringo. But Mexicans don't call gringos gringos. Only gringos call gringos gringos. Mexicans call gringos "gabachos."

Gringo: Mexican slang for a white American. What gringos call gringos.

Guatemalan: The Germans had the Irish; the Irish had the Italians; the Italians had the Poles. Mexicans have the Guatemalans—our eternal punch line.

Güey: Derived from buey—an ox—but means "ass," as in a hooved ass, not an ass ass.

Joto: Faggot. A preferred male slur.

La Raza Cósmica: "The Cosmic Race." Refers to a movement by Mexican intellectuals during the 1920s arguing Mexicans have the blood of all the world's races—white, black, Indian, and Asian—and therefore transcend the world.

Los Estados Unidos: "The United States" in Spanish. Come on—that one's not that difficult to decipher, ¿que no?

Madre: Means "mother," but is also one of the most vulgar words in Mexican Spanish. In its various forms, it can mean anything from "kick your ass" to "suck my dick."

Mexicano: The greatest race of people in the world—when they're in the United States. In Mexico, they're just Mexicans.

Mexicanidad: Mexican-ness. Ridiculous translation for a ridiculous concept.

Naco: Mexico City slang for a chúntaro.

Pendejo: Literally, a pubic hair. Means "asshole" in Mexican Spanish. So many synonyms for asshole, Mexican Spanish has!

Pinche: Adjective meaning "fucking."

Pinche puto pendejo baboso: Literally means "fucking faggot pubic hair slug" but understood by Mexicans as "fucking stupid-ass asshole." The best Mexican cursing couplet of them all.

Piñata: A toy Mexicans hang above their heads and beat mercilessly until its goodies spill forth. Otherwise known as the United States.

Pocho: An Americanized Mexican.

Por Favor: "Please" in Spanish.

Puro: Pure. Put it in front of any word to come off as a braggart—a Mexican!

Puto/Puta: The former means "faggot," the latter is "female whore." One of the most popular Mexican Spanish curse words.

¿Que no?: Ending phrase used in Mexican Spanish to denote "right?"

Reconquista: Theory espoused by Chicano and conservative kooks insisting that Mexico is trying to take over the Southwest United States, the territory the Yankees took from Mexico as spoils after the 1846 Mexican-American War.

SanTana: Santa Ana, Calif., from where ¡Ask a Mexican! originates. The most Latino big city in the United States, according to the 2000 census. Please pronounce the city like the natives: "SanTana," like the famous guitarist, not "Santa Ana," like a combo of Claus and Karenina.

Señorita: A polite lady. Usually coupled with "spicy."

Tapatío: A popular hot-sauce brand featuring a man in a mustache and sombrero. Drunk by Mexicans from cradle to crypt.

Tejana: A Stetson cowboy hat.

Tequila: Liquor distilled from the agave plant of central Mexico. Also flows in the blood of any real Mexican.

Ustedes: A fancy way of saying "y'all."

Virgin of Guadalupe: The patron saint of Mexico. Appears everywhere in Mexican society, from churches to silk shirts to hubcaps.

Wab: The Orange County version of "wetback." Spread our hate wide and far, por favor.

garellano@seattleweekly.com

 
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