Mexicanismos + linguistic peculiarities

Though every country/culture/language has its own slang, I am inclined to believe that Mexico is home to the best. I’m obviously not biased.

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As many others have written similar lists, I’ll try to use only unique phrases I hadn’t seen or heard before meeting D or moving here, as well as ones that have become particularly interesting to me.

The list*:

¡Qué padre! / ¡Qué chido!

Cool! Wow! That’s great! In Maine, I once said qué chido to a student from Mexico and he reacted very oddly, saying that it’s not something girls say. I’ve asked around and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Sociolinguistics research topic?

[Update from a friend: chido isn’t rude, but it’s not a word that “good girls” would use. Mystery partially solved!]

¡Ándale! (usually pronounced aaaaandale)

To indicate agreement or understanding. Another way of saying “ahh, okay, yes, I know what you mean.” Not only reserved for Speedy Gonzales.

¿Eu?

Huh? What? Sorry? My new favorite. I picked it up from D’s sister. Haven’t had the courage to try it yet, though. I imagine that if Emma Watson spoke Spanish, she would use this interjection. It just sounds like her.

Unusual usage of gustar

Everyone knows me gusta, right? We learn it in terms of something else being pleasing to us, like: a ella le gusta bailar (interpreted as “she likes to dance,” but literally, “to dance pleases her”). Here, especially when it comes to restaurants or people offering you food or a sample of something, you may hear the server ask “¿Gustan?” as in, want some? The verb is conjugated to match the person/people (often the second-person -as ending) instead of the thing/activity (-a/-an ending), as is custom.

An important distinction

Un chupón is a baby’s pacifier, whereas un chupetón is a hickey. Yet another word I avoid for fear of messing up by mistake (Freudian slip?). Mierda (shit) vs. miedo (fear) is another accident waiting to happen.

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On a related note: how to make baby talk

It’s a simple formula (hah!): Rs – and sometimes Ds – become Ls, S/soft C becomes CH. So cerebro (brain) becomes cheleblo. Highly effective when teasing.

La miel

To be la miel literally, “honey” – means to be great or excellent or super nice: la nueva cafeteria de Brody es la miel (the new Brody cafeteria is great).

[Update: may be a misinterpretation on my part. Stay tuned. May potentially mean “sweet” in the way US Americans use it. NEW UPDATE: I’ve determined that this bit of slang was probably invented by D’s friends. We’re doing our best to help it catch on here in CDMX!]

Michelada

Basically the equivalent of a Mexican Bloody Mary, except with beer instead of vodka. The glass is usually rimmed with salt, powdered chile, and/or tamarind. The best part? They often give you the beer bottle (sometimes a 40!) to finish.

123

Text-speak and a play-on-words for cuéntame, which means both “tell me” and “count.”

Business terminology

Spaniards will create a new word for one that doesn’t already exist; Mexicans, on the other hand, might simply use the English word. It’s common to hear godínez (stereotypical office dudes, slightly derogatory, all in good fun) inject a term like “venture capital” or “needs assessment” into a Spanish sentence. Never ceases to make me laugh! [A godínez, which was originally a surname, might also say “ombligo de la semana” (navel/belly button of the week) to describe Wednesday, or Hump Day.]

Speaking of godínez… la quincena

The quincena is sacred here. It’s your twice-monthly payday, hence the prefix quince- (15), that gives you license to spend a ton of money… or perhaps allows you to pay your bills. Lines at banks and ATMs seem to stretch for miles.

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Cue N*SYNC’s “Just Got Paid”

Gracias

A way to turn something down politely and allow the requester to save face. Most US English speakers would say “no, thanks/thank you,” while a speaker of Mexican Spanish might simply say “gracias” (sans “no”) with a sympathetic tone. Very useful when a cute little girl tries to sell you candy or trinkets. Related to pa(ra) la otra, or “maybe next time.”

Güera: my daily reality

A softer term than gringo, it depicts someone who is fair-skinned and light-ish haired (and not necessarily from the US). The diminutive, güerita, is a favorite among catcallers.

On a related note, lots of nicknames and descriptors in Latin American culture are based on physical or racial descriptions that might seem mean or rude to an outsider. Calling someone gordit@ (the equivalent might be “fatty”) happens often, as does the opposite, flaquit@. Morenito (roughly, brownie?), describing someone’s skin color, is not (perceived to be) as racially loaded as you might think.

¿A poco?

No way! Really? Seriously? A fresa (preppy or, occasionally, snobbish/stuck-up person) would probably pronounce this “¿a pooocoooo?” to express incredulity. It’s fun to mix it up from the usual en serio (seriously) or de veras (truthfully).

Bluff

Just for show. My mother-in-law, who reads and understands English almost flawlessly but is sometimes hesitant to speak it, threw this one at me last week. Clearly borrowed from English, she used it in the context of a friend who has a piano at her house but doesn’t actually know how to play.

Pirata

Fake/cheap/imitation/not genuine. Usually said with disdain. I LOVE this word. You could use pirata to describe something that’s ripped off or faked, like a logo – anything that’s not the real McCoy.

Nice

Used the same way you would in English to describe something fancy or lovely (but not necessarily someone who is kind).

¿Cómo ves? [added 3/25/17]

How about it? What do you think? Used to solicit feedback after you’ve proposed an idea or opinion. Yo pasaré por ti a las 8, ¿cómo ves? (I’ll pick you up at 8, what do you think/sound good?)

*Disclaimer: this list is based on my experience and understanding, plus some input from Spanish speakers. My translations may not be perfect. Yet.

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An Ash Wednesday stroll

It occurred to me to bring along a proper camera during my walk to the gorgeous Santísimo Redentor (Holy Redeemer) church to receive ashes for Ash Wednesday, the opening of Lent.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

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Front of the church (that TILE) + altar + little stand for ashes

 

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Back of the church

 

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Stained glass kills me

 

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Perfectly purple jacaranda trees line many of Mexico City’s streets

 

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Can I live here?

 

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The building kitty-corner from us, with the best paint job!

 

Recent Netflix binges

My current (un)employment status affords me more free time than I know what to do with. In an attempt to fill my time, I have turned to Netflix.

Mexican Netflix is the holy grail. Seriously. I tell anyone and everyone.

Besides The Wonder Years, I’ve been able to find just about any TV show or movie my heart desires. (Sometimes only the first season is available, but that’s not the point!)

The following are my 10-out-of-10-would-recommend shows:

  • Outlander: Sing me a song of a lass that is gone… so. obsessed. Thank you to Laura T. for introducing me; my life will never be the same. Jamie + Claire 4ever.
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Dreaming of the Scottish Highlands (photo credit: Flickr)

  • Stranger Things: finished it in four days. Fantastic cast of young actors. Not as scary as anticipated. Super badass, especially Steve’s batting skills and Hopper at all times.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been around for awhile but the lack of Andy Samberg in my life led me to this gem. So, so funny, to the point where I actually laugh out loud. Basically The Office but at a police station. Amy Santiago is my spirit animal.
  • The Crown: historical dramas are my thing. Well-acted, suspenseful (despite being based on true events), beautiful costuming.
  • Call the Midwife: I love Chummy! A great show to pop on whilst doing other things.

Tried getting into but couldn’t:

  • The Tudors: something must be wrong with me, I know, everyone loves it… Henry Cavill is the only reason I would continue watching.
  • Black Sails (even though the guy who did the music also did Outlander’s… and Battlestar Galactica’s… and The Walking Dead’s… and Agents of SHIELD’s.)

A visit to Frida Kahlo’s house: Casa Azul

A few weeks back, David’s cousins and I visited the Museo Frida Kahlo, known as the Casa Azul, in Coyoacán, one of my favorite parts of the city. I was impressed by how much of the house visitors are allowed to explore and get right up close to, like Frida’s studio. (Sadly, as I was too cheap to pay for a photo pass, I only have pictures of the courtyard and exterior.) We also got to check out a fabulous exhibit on her clothing– the long, colorful dresses she’s famous for, which she started wearing because she had uneven legs, having contracted polio as a child.

Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera, the famous muralist, shared this home– more of a compound, really– from the late ’20s through the mid-’50s, until Frida’s death. Their saga is interesting and tempestuous and weird and full of interesting characters like Leon Trotsky and Georgia O’Keeffe.

An ode to Sonora

After Christmas, David’s family and I visited the state of Sonora, in the northwest part of the country. The capital is Hermosillo, which is 3-ish hours from the Arizona border near Tucson. All but one of the photos below were taken in San Carlos, a gorgeous beach town on the Sea of Cortez (where I ate that amazing ceviche, mentioned in this post).

And don’t worry, the wall you see is just a mural in a food-truck park!

Food fiesta/culinary cabaret

Having already tried some unusual Mexican delicacies (tongue tacos, pickled pork skin, and others), I’ve been a little less adventurous these days, opting for classics that are guaranteed to be good. Below are a few of my recent restaurant choices.


san-carlos-ceviche

Without a doubt my favorite from this list: a mixed ceviche from a restaurant in San Carlos, Sonora, on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). If memory serves me, the mix was of shrimp, squid or octopus, and some kind of fish. It was almost as great as the view!

df-easy-frank-hot-dog

The most recent: a jumbo hot dog with mustard/mayo/ketchup, nacho cheese, pickles, onions, and crushed Ruffles chips– served with fries and a diet Coke. This was our first adventure with UberEATS in DF, and I was quite pleased. (Shout-out to Auntie for beautiful placemats from Bronner’s in Frankenmuth!)

df-azulejos-enchiladas

Up next: enchiladas suizas from the Sanborns in the Casa de los Azulejos (house of tiles) in downtown Mexico City. Since Mom was here for a visit prior to the wedding, I couldn’t not take her to this famous landmark. She played it safe with a yummy sandwich.

df-pasta

We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood full of great restaurants, like this one, an Argentinian place on the corner called Parrilla Quilmes. I went for the cheapest entree on the menu, fettuccine with my choice of sauce. The chimichurri (an oregano- and vinegar-based sauce) was exceptional! Poor Isla Negra just sat there, unread, while I stuffed my face with delicious carbs.

df-borrego-viudo-al-pastor

Probably the grossest-looking picture but the most satisfying meal. Imagine the concept of the old A&Ws: ordering and then eating in your car… but at a taquería. These are tacos al pastor that had a very barbecue-y flavor to them. With each taco costing a mere 10 pesos (about 50 cents US), it’s easy to fill up on a budget.

Teotihuacán time

With the help of one of David’s cousins, Sara (pictured lower right), I checked off a bucket-list item: the pyramids of Teotihuacán!

The Pyramids of the Sun (Sol) and the Moon (Luna) are the major attractions at this massive archaeological site, located northeast of Mexico City. Though the city was established around 100 AD, it took over 150 years to construct the monuments we know today.

I learned from Sara that these pyramids are almost perfectly aligned latitudinally with others in Egypt and China. Interesting, no?