Tuesday, June 25, 2024

‘The Mexican Slang Dictionary,’ a book that picks up where your Spanish class left off

“That morro I met at the pachanga is really fresa!”

Does that Spanglish sentence mean anything to you?

What about this one?

“Me enchilé cabrón at the taco stand near my chamba.”

If your answers are no and no, and you’re interested in learning colloquial Mexican Spanish — or increasing your current repertoire — “The Mexican Slang Dictionary” is the book for you.

Compiled by Mexico-based British journalist Alasdair Baverstock, the pocket-sized dictionary contains hundreds of Mexican slang (and swear) words and colloquial phrases along with their equivalents in English.

Journalist Alasdair Baverstock
The Mexico City-based Baverstock has compiled a rich collection of Mexican slang in his dictionary. (Alasdair Baverstock)

It also has a section on albures, a form of (often sexual) word play that involves the humorous use of double entendres.

Here are a few of the entries:

Chulada

A beautiful, or high quality, thing or action.

e.g. “Su gol era una chulada.”

He scored a beautiful goal.

¿Jalas?

Informal and colloquial way of asking if a person will join you in your plans.

e.g. “Vamos al bar. ¿Jalas?”

We’re going to the bar. Are you coming?

Nini

A person who is lazy or work-shy. Comes from the phrase “Ni trabaja, ni estudia” — Neither works, nor studies.

Alasdair, a video journalist for Chinese broadcaster CGTN and erstwhile contributor to Mexico News Daily, explains in the forward to his dictionary that his Mexican slang compilation began as a “whimsical addition” to his professional website.

In January 2020, “half-way through a reporting trip to Oaxaca’s Istmo de Tehuantepec I found my notebook filled with phrases from interviews I could not understand,” he writes.

“… Henceforth, I noted down every piece of slang and jargon I came across and added them [to my online dictionary] alongside my own wording for their definitions. … In my trips across the country, and in speaking to Mexicans of all backgrounds, the dictionary quickly grew,” Alasdair says.

“… It has been thanks to the generosity, good humor and national pride of the Mexican people that the dictionary exists at all.”

“The Mexican Slang Dictionary” can be purchased on Amazon for 149 pesos. It is also available at Under the Volcano Books, located in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.

A word of warning: the dictionary includes some extremely colorful — read potentially offensive — words or phrases.

Finally, in case you were wondering, the two sentences at the top of this article could read as follows in colloquial English.

  • That guy I met at the shindig is really snobby.
  • I burned my mouth big time at the taco stand near my work.

As you probably know, salsas — like Mexican Spanish — can be very picante (spicy/risqué) indeed.

By Mexico News Daily chief staff writer Peter Davies ([email protected])

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