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¡Viva México, Cabrones!
January 25, 2010 4:57 AM   Subscribe

As a recent New York Times article notes: "Mexicans, despite their reputation in Latin America for ultrapoliteness and formality, curse like sailors, a recent survey found. They use profanity when speaking with their friends, with their co-workers, with their spouses and even with their bosses and parents."

This then: Effective Swearing in D.F.: Towards a Manual of Communication for English Speakers visiting Mexico City
Because, remember: Hablar español sin caló es de hueva.
posted by vacapinta (49 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
This should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who, like me, had to watch El Norte approximately a thousand times in high school Spanish class and learned that the quickest way for Guatemalan migrants to pass themselves off as Mexicans when caught by the Federales is to copiously larder their language with chingadachingadachingada.
posted by kittyprecious at 5:05 AM on January 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Anybody else remembering the scene in El Norte where Rosa and Enrique 'prove' that they're Mexicans to the authorities by cursing every other word?
posted by dinty_moore at 5:07 AM on January 25, 2010


Ese post está cabronsísimo, güey!
posted by lucia__is__dada at 5:08 AM on January 25, 2010


I knew someone from Argentina who said the same thing about his country. It drove his American wife crazy. But I'm not sure I believe it about Argentina. Maybe my friend's wife was gaslighting her. Or maybe it was more of a class thing.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:16 AM on January 25, 2010


curse like sailors, a recent survey found

Dear Mexico,

We fellow North Americans north of your border apologize for not knowing you better and vow to pop on over and say hi sometime in the future - as long as it's at a resort that serves drinks in a pool. Thanks for the food all these years, too, and for washing our dishes and cleaning our yards.

Sincerely,

The Rest of North America.

PS - Sorry for the fence.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:23 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like many Mexicans, though, the teenage girls also dipped into a well-stocked arsenal of more potent curse words, most of which referred in one way or another to sex. Even those were uttered so casually, however, that they did not seem to carry much sting.

No fucking shit? I had no fucking idea.
posted by three blind mice at 5:30 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


most of which referred in one way or another to sex.

Now that's interesting. I would have thought Mexico's swears would be mostly religious.
posted by DU at 5:34 AM on January 25, 2010


As an American living in Spain, I really miss how profane the Mexicans are. "Que pasa tio" is much less fun that "Que pasó, pinche güey!?" And "pinche" is a lot more percussive and fun to say than "puto".

Plus, you could potentially get your ass kicked in Spain for calling someone a cabron, whereas in Mexico, you're more likely to get your ass kicked if you don't say it!
posted by smeger at 5:55 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would have thought Mexico's swears would be mostly religious.

no no no....taking the Lord (or the Virgin Mary's) name in vain is a sin for Catholics. Dropping sex related swears = much less time in the confessional.
posted by availablelight at 6:16 AM on January 25, 2010


This was seriously news to some? lol. Judicious use of the right swear words (or oddball colloquialism) at the appropriate time is the final bit of spice in the dish.

Anyway, I remember watching an interview a few years back with Cristina, the talk-show host, about coming up with a sort of pan-Latin-American Spanish for use on the show, an effort that was actually sort of tricky because of wide differences in country- and regional-slang. Case in point: the phrase coger la guagua translatse to 'catch the bus' in some places and 'molest the child' in others. Ese le zumba el mango.
posted by jquinby at 6:16 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pinche horchata
posted by emhutchinson at 6:19 AM on January 25, 2010


taking the Lord (or the Virgin Mary's) name in vain is a sin for Catholics.

Which makes it all the more potent when you do, which means it gets popular (which means it devalues, but there's no way to go back).

I can only conclude that Mexico isn't as religious as it seems but that the US's puritanical attitude toward sex has rubbed off on them (so to speak).
posted by DU at 6:32 AM on January 25, 2010


They use profanity when speaking with their friends, with their co-workers, with their spouses and even with their bosses and parents.

Yeah this is lots of fun when you're gay and you happen to share a workplace with Mexicans who think absolutely nothing of referring to you as maricon or bizcocho and all sorts of other terms without realizing you understand, until one day you tell them to cut it out and they are completely taken aback because they were just kidding, and never intended their words to actually offend, and then you inform them that you're used to people calling you these things as a way to hurt you, perhaps as a prelude to actually physically hurting you, and that while this may fly in their home or their hometown, this is New York fucking FAG CITY so they'd better stop it already or you're going to get them all fucking fired.
posted by hermitosis at 6:43 AM on January 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


To add to the list of people to whom this will be no news: anyone who grew up in the greater Los Angeles area (e.g., me). The word güey in many parts of Los Angeles is more common than the word "dude" -- and has been for decades. (Also the words cabrón, pinche, and chingar and all its various conjugations).
posted by blucevalo at 6:53 AM on January 25, 2010


That blog is dangerous. I subscribed to the feed a while back, thanks to a comment made by Vacapinta somewhere long back, and have been reading it ever since. I should probably note that I live in Mexico and am learning spanish. So, one day, I decided that my slang use is very low, and I decided to salt my broken spanish with some chilango slang. ANd I carefully checked the blog to make sure that I would not actually cross some sort of line. You know where this is going. At a family reunion with my father-in-law and his sister, I uttered what I thought was a clever and hip sentence. Cue AWKWARD silence. I kinda retired from slang after that.
posted by dhruva at 6:57 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The one I'm fond of saying, just for the rhyming, is Pinche chinche, where chinche is bug.
posted by dhruva at 6:59 AM on January 25, 2010


Oops! The guy should really add "This Blog is for Entertainment Purposes only. Any awkward situations or unsolicited physical violence arising from advice contained herein is not the responsibility of....blah blah blah"
posted by vacapinta at 7:04 AM on January 25, 2010


El metafilter está de puta madre!
posted by elmono at 7:07 AM on January 25, 2010


I found this Nixon tape on Mexican morality to be cringeworthy and funny, worth posting again.

NIXON: I have the greatest affection for them [blacks], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.

EHRLICHMAN: The Mexican American is not as good as the Mexican. You go down to Mexico--they're clean, they're honest, they're moral.

NIXON: Mexico is a much more moral country.

EHRLICHMAN: Monterrey, Cuernavaca. Go into slum areas, and by God they come out with clean shirts on a Sunday morning.

NIXON: The church. You find a helluva lot less marijuana use in Mexico than the United States.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:12 AM on January 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm actually kind of impressed that Nixon even differentiated blacks from Mexicans (and that Ehrlichman differentiated between Mexicans and "Mexican Americans").
posted by DU at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2010


I would have thought Mexico's swears would be mostly religious.

no no no....taking the Lord (or the Virgin Mary's) name in vain is a sin for Catholics. Dropping sex related swears = much less time in the confessional.


In Quebec all the best swearing is religious. It's fun to say, too. "Tabernac" just has such a ring to it, as does "chalice". Also good though not religious is "espece de...(insert animal/vegetable/what have you here)".
posted by Go Banana at 7:19 AM on January 25, 2010


this is New York fucking FAG CITY so they'd better stop it already or you're going to get them all fucking fired.

Excellent example of the casual use of potent profanity, but I bet you've had to say it to more than just Mexicans.
posted by three blind mice at 7:19 AM on January 25, 2010


I think I'm going to start referring to my penis as The Invertebrate.

(This after that post last year where I vowed to start calling my balls The Bystanders. Eventually, I will be completely incomprehensible whenever I have my pants off, and it will be all Metafilter's fault.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2010


I grew up in southern New Mexico. Between the undulating whistles reverberating down the hallways and the intermittent cries of "Pinche joto!" my high school resembled a bizarre aviary of sorts.
posted by pravit at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


¡Simón, güey! When I was in Mexico learning Spanish and living with a Mexican family I remember learning pinche from the teenage son. When he was sitting on the patio bullshitting with his friends it was pinche this and pinche that. And chingada this and chingada that. In addition to the formal Spanish I learned during the day at the school, the afternoons would be full of sessions of where I'd teach them the finer points of American slang and they'd reciprocate with the Mexican slang. I've forgotten more than I remembered so this will come in handy for me next visit to Chilangolandia.
posted by birdherder at 7:47 AM on January 25, 2010


I'm actually kind of impressed that Nixon even differentiated blacks from Mexicans (and that Ehrlichman differentiated between Mexicans and "Mexican Americans").

I think their racism was quite nuanced, really -- it's either the upside or the downside to smart racists, depending on your point of view.
posted by Forktine at 8:16 AM on January 25, 2010


I suppose it's surprising when Mexicans do it because the fact that Americans are unspeakably potty mouthed is invisible to us. I mean, I suppose there is some part of America where this isn't true, but I've lived in all sorts of places in America, with all sorts of people, and have found that relentless, unconscious cursing is the norm rather than the exception. And I love it -- English benefits from being colored by the inappropriate. There's no sentence that can't be spiced up by a well-deployed curse. I mean, let's take a few sentences by Obama, from this week's weekly address, as an example:

A hundred years ago, one of the great Republican Presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, fought to limit special interest spending and influence over American political campaigns and warned of the impact of unbridled, corporate spending. His message rings as true as ever today, in this age of mass communications, when the decks are too often stacked against ordinary Americans. And as long as I’m your President, I’ll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you.

It's good: Clearly and simply written, with a strong focus and point of view. But let's spice it up a little:

A hundred years ago, one of the great Republican Presidents ever the fuck ever, Teddy Motherfucking Roosevelt, fought his ass off to limit special interest spending and influence over American political campaigns and warned your everyday American asses of the impact of unbridled, corporate spending. His message rings as true as ever today -- it sure as shit does -- in this age of mass communications, when the decks are too the fuck often stacked against ordinary Americans. And as long as I’m your President, I’ll never stop fighting to make god damn sure that the most powerful motherfucking voice in Washington belongs to you.

Is that better?

Fucking A, that's better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:23 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is not surprising that Mexicans do it, as others have commented. What is intriguing about it is the sheer denseness and variety of it.

For someone trained in Spanish, listening to Mexican street slang and profanity is almost like encountering another language, full of its own euphemisms, internal references and variations on a theme. Like an English speaker first encountering Lord Buckley, it just seems to make no sense - at first.

See for example, the post on Numerology or the one on Tiburcio.

So, its a lot more than just fuck, fuck, shit, ass, fuck.
In English you say:
"Really, I think that guy is full of shit."

In Chilango you would say:
Al chile me late que ese güey es puro taco de lengua
posted by vacapinta at 8:51 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


America FUCK YEAH
posted by Damienmce at 8:54 AM on January 25, 2010


El metafilter está de puta madre!
posted by elmono at 3:07 PM


pues peude que sea de PM, pero !tu me estas tocando los huevos! (or should that be los ovarios??) is this the thread where we all show off our general swearing or just Mexican?

Never knew about güey and am fascinated> In Castellano !Que güey! is used by nice middle class kids meaning "Hey that's cool!"

Castellano also tends to mix the scatological with the profane, as in !me cago en la leche! where the leche refers to the divine product of the holy mammary gland.
posted by Wilder at 9:12 AM on January 25, 2010


DU: I can only conclude that Mexico isn't as religious as it seems but that the US's puritanical attitude toward sex has rubbed off on them (so to speak).

Nope. Americans didn't invent puritanical attitudes toward sex, DU.
posted by joedan at 9:30 AM on January 25, 2010


cuando vivimos en Denver recuerdo como la gente llamaba a John Elway "El Güey", o, a los oídos puertorriqueños, "El Juez", o, simplemente (en espanglish), "El Way."
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:33 AM on January 25, 2010


But let's spice it up a little

Hey, that sounds more like President Camacho! Woo!
posted by dammitjim at 9:52 AM on January 25, 2010


Also good though not religious is "espece de...(insert animal/vegetable/what have you here)"

Any Quebecois worth his salt would know that you don't say the above, but rather "Hostie de ...", which is religious, being derived from "Host".
posted by splice at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2010


I only know how to curse in Portuguese. *hangs head in shame*
posted by infinitewindow at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2010


I have a decent assortment of emergency Spanish phrases, and a whole filthy vocabulary of Mexican swears.

I lived in south Florida and I speak with a Cuban/Carribean accent. I am told my "Cafe con leche sin azucar" is flawlessly Cuban.

I was walking out of the building one evening, carrying something heavy, and I dropped it on my foot. Chinga! I exclaimed, quite naturally, and all of a sudden an number of native Spanish speakers prairie dogged over the cubicles with horrified expressions on their faces.

Uh, not as common in Argentina or Venezuela I'm guessing.

I now say coño, which seems to be less offensive.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:06 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This post made my day! I grew up in a border town in Texas and could spew an effortless string of Spanish curse words by the 1st grade... and I didn't even know what the hell I was saying, I just knew it was bad. My parents were horrified, of course. They wouldn't even let us say "dang" in our household.

Good times!

The influence was so great, in fact, that even today my sisters & I refer to each other as putas, with a sort of an Americanized pronunciation. It doesn't even occur to us that it's a profane word in our day-to-day usage, it's more of a term of endearment....

Man ... I miss home.
posted by SoulOnIce at 12:06 PM on January 25, 2010


that blog is really useful! I have been trying to explain to my about guey. This is so helpful!
posted by MNDZ at 12:26 PM on January 25, 2010


It is not surprising that Mexicans do it, as others have commented. What is intriguing about it is the sheer denseness and variety of it.

Right on. I spent this weekend checking out the first 3 episodes from Season 1 of The Wire. I conclude we in the US are competitive on quantity, weak on variety.
posted by bearwife at 12:45 PM on January 25, 2010


A friend of mine worked in a factory that was almost exclusively Mexican immigrants when she was in high school. She was taking Spanish in school, but wasn't confident with it, so she didn't break it out...until she started to understand what the guys were saying about her.

She said she learned a lot of Spanish during that summer, but most of it was curse words.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:20 PM on January 25, 2010


For non cursing D.F. slang check out Chilanga Banda by Jaime Lopez, played by Cafe Tacuba. Slang with the letter Ch.

And yeah, Mexican's can be pretty casually homophobic an racist, for example, everyone knew this by third grade where I lived:

Q: ¿Cuantas calorias tiene el chile?
A: Setecientas.
posted by dirty lies at 1:43 PM on January 25, 2010


Also, until this thread I had no idea that güey is how one writes the ever-present "Sup wei?" of my high school days.
posted by pravit at 3:33 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, now, this isn't swearing, it's just explaining why you're a bit off today:

"Ando medio mareado porque me acaban de pegar un chivo, pero en 5 minutitos me recupero!"*

*I'm a little dizzy cause I just received oral sex, but I'll be fine in a few minutes!
posted by misha at 3:34 PM on January 25, 2010


Castellano also tends to mix the scatological with the profane, as in !me cago en la leche! where the leche refers to the divine product of the holy mammary gland.

Lots of sacrilege in Castellano too. My favorite is "me cago en la leche de los putos clavos de Cristo"!

I shit in the milk of the fucking love of Christ

That's good clean wholesome fun!

Also, people in Spain use "hostia" the way American's would say "damn" when they're surprised by something or bump their toe or something. Literally, it's the host, the flesh of Christ.

Mexicans are awesome at making up new profanity, too. Just look at all of the variants of cabrón.

I had a hot-chick-roommate one time with big breasts who worked in a restaurant with a lot of Mexican guys in the kitchen. They named her La Chichona. "She who is defined by her tits". Not so nice, but very funny.
posted by smeger at 3:54 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dirty lies, does the punch line refer to ejaculate?

Esta gabacha responde al subido y "le chinga" con "¿Porque quisiero chingar un rato piojado?
posted by brujita at 12:56 AM on January 26, 2010


"Nails," not "love," innit?
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:42 PM on January 26, 2010


In Castellano !Que güey! is used by nice middle class kids meaning "Hey that's cool!"

To be precise, the Castellano cool you are looking for is guay, rather than guey.
posted by whatzit at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2010


just for future reference, a small collection of castilian 'i shit on'; these are regularly used in Asturias where my family comes from.

me cago en dios - i shit on god
me cago hasta en san dios - i even shit on saint god
me cago en la puta carcel - i shit on the fucking jail (only grandpas that lived during the civil war)
cago'n les pites rabuques (this is in asturian, again grandpas) - i shit on the short tailed chickens
me cago en la puta de oros - i shit on the whore of golds (golds is a suit in a spanish deck)
me cago en mis/tus muertos - i shit on my/your ancestors
me cago en mi/tu madre - i shit on my/your mother
cago'n mi mantu (asturian) - i shit on my cape
cago'n mi maquina (asturian) - i shit on my machine

proof that you can indeed shit on your own mother
(this is a somewhat famous incident where a football player was unfairly red carded. the referee was Asturian :D )
posted by valdesm at 4:56 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


valdesan,

nada más no te vayas a cagar en el thread.

gracias.
posted by dirty lies at 9:15 AM on January 29, 2010


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