Saturday, February 24, 2024

What Spanish memes are trending in Mexico this week?

I don’t know about you all, but I sure remember things better when they’re funny. Hence, it’s a logical conclusion that reading funny things in Spanish will help them stick better in your brain…right?

Whether you’re here to learn some new words, or just here for some good ol’ fashioned Mexican humor, we’ve got you covered with this week’s installment of But what does it meme?

Meme translation: “Someone: Hey, isn’t it tiring being a mom and working?” “No, not at all.”

What does it meme? This is part of an entire genre of memes where women who look completely torn up say something to the degree of “Oh yes, doing everything on my own/motherhood/staying home with toddlers (etc.) is easy!” It’s a favorite of mine, as I’m generally a fan of finding the humorous side (sometimes the darkly humorous side) of tough situations that can’t be changed very easily.

I also appreciate that it’s appearing so much in Spanish for cultures where it’s been, until quite recently, pretty taboo for a mother to admit that being a mother is tough, as opposed to sucking it up and doing one’s best to be perceived as the Virgin Mary (everyone’s ideal mother around here) herself.

Meme translation: “We’ve been fired because they realized we lied in our interviews about speaking English fluently.” “Oh darno :(“

What does it meme? “Darno” is a made-up word, and so is “caracoleishion.” So what gives? 

The same way an English speaker might jokingly put an “o” at the end of any word to make it “sound Spanish” (my sister loves doing this: “What do you think of my new plantos?”), so Spanish speakers put the /shun/ (like in the last syllable of “concentration”) sound at the end of Spanish words to make them sound like they’re in English. A good friend of mine who speaks zero English, for example, sometimes says to be funny “Estoy en la limpieshion” (she’s cleaning).

“Caracoles” is a funny way to say something like “darn it” or “dang it” in Spanish, which strikes me as 100% adorable. Snails!

Meme translation: “If a hen is overcome with emotion, does it get person bumps?”

What does it meme? In English, we say “goosebumps.” In Spanish, though, it’s “piel de gallina” (literally “hen skin”). 

So what might hens say? We may never know, and that’s the kind of thing that keeps He-Man up at night.

Meme translation: “Why did you leave me on read?” “I was eating.” “For the past five days?” “I was really hungry.”

What does it meme? It’s cute, of course, but the main reason I added this meme is for the key phrase “dejar en visto.” This means to “leave on read,” considered by many — usually depending on their age — to be a grave sin. 

My go-to when I’m the one who’s left someone else on read is usually, “I am so sorry, every time I thought about writing you I didn’t have my phone open in front of me and I’d get distracted and forget when I did,” which is lame but true. Maybe it’s time to get a little more creative!

Meme translation: “Entrepreneurship is my passion.” (on truck) “Mobile Motel”

What does it meme? Well, maybe it’s not the worst idea out there. Still, it looks a little grungy.

By the way, an important difference between “hotel” and “motel” down here: while the difference in the US is mostly regarding the price and how nice it is, in Mexico, it’s a bit more marked. “Hotels” are where you go to stay for one or more nights if you’re, say, on vacation or on a business trip.

A motel, however, is the kind of place where they rent the room by the hour (ahem) and you put your car in a hidden individual garage while you’re there, lest someone recognize it and start a trail of gossip. Since many Mexicans live with their parents until they get married, motels can provide the kind of privacy you wouldn’t find at home. And a mobile motel is actually not a terrible idea if no one in the relationship has a car! The one above, however, could still use a little work.

Meme translation: “My parents: What do you want to go to Oaxaca for?” “Me:”

What does it meme? I’m old enough to have seen “Nacho Libre” in the movie theater as a college student, and I loved it immediately. Believe it or not, I still watch it at least once a year, and I have a sister and a friend with whom I regularly quote the movie.

This cult classic about a monk who wants to be a pro wrestler was filmed in Oaxaca, and I would consider a trip to some of the filming sites a very worthy destination — but only if I had my lucha libre mask with me, of course!

Meme translation: “My family: ‘Heaven just got another angel.’” “Me, reincarnated as a rat.”

What does it meme? Mexicans are well-known for many wonderful qualities; that said, the ability to admit that maybe you haven’t been the perfect person you pretend to be (ask yourself how many times you’ve seen someone truly and sincerely take personal responsibility for something bad that happened), is not among them.

So, it’s refreshing to see this kind of sentiment expressed (albeit humorously): “Nah, I’m no angel.”

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website, sarahedevries.substack.com.

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