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!

1 comment:

  1. I have also seen it spelled with a S Sancudo and other regions of Mexico I have heard the word moyote it comes from nahuatl language also mexicos mosquito repellent is called repelente contra moyotes