Gringas die laughing

I was just sitting here minding my own business when the phone rang the other day and a reporter announces that he had stumbled upon Cachando Chile and had tracked me down and wanted to know more about what was behind this whole Chilean Spanglish Rooster from the Glue, bad-translation fun with Chilenismos that was going on over here. He saw that gringa blogger Abby (see Abby’s Line) was involved as well as Canadian comedian Eileen Shea. Unfortunately Bearshapedsphere blogger Eileen Smith posted just a tad too late to be included in the article—it was LUN‘s loss, but you don’t have to miss out—go on over and check out her contribution too!

It seems he thinks we have a movement going on. I told him that the post had started with a bit that Eileen included a preliminary version in her show for the Chilespouses the other night. “There are 500 gringas who get together to laugh at Chilean dichos?” he asked incredulously.

No… I had to laugh… “nothing like that… we get together for other reasons, but it’s fun to laugh at ourselves trying to figure out what these strange sayings are all about!” I told him.

He asked for my top 5… caught me off guard with that one, but I had to admit that the first time I heard someone say “mi señora no tiene pelos en la lengua” (my wife has no hair on her tongue) I was really torn between confusion and repulsion… I mean, ICK! (it means she’s outspoken, by the way). And then there’s the obvious question of why in the world anyone would name a tasty pastry treat something as odd as “calzones rotos” (‘torn underpants’ or ‘ripped knickers’ in Brit-speak). Eeuuww! But once you get beyond the name, they really are pretty good (the name comes from the shape, by the way, although even so it takes a bit of imagination…)

I also have to say that “pato malo”  (bad duck) seems a very odd way to refer to a thug… I mean, a snake, a fox, a bull, a bear, even a dog… I could be afraid of those things… but how bad can a duck really be? Doesn’t it strike you as a rather affectionate way to refer to someone that no one would ever want their son to be or their daughter to date? And then there’s this whole fascination with pigs… “Pasarlo chancho,” for example, means to have a good time… why? I can’t help but wonder… and then the use of “chanchito” as a term of endearment! (really!) That’s probably grounds for divorce anywhere else!  Hmmm… have you seen the book of Chilean idioms, How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle? The name probably came from all the animal references we have going on here!

In the end the reporter Enrique Niño wrote a very nice piece in Las Ultimas Noticias (thank you Enrique!), and the response from his readers who looked Abby and I up on our respective blogs has been tremendous! We’ve received tons of contact from people from around the world, although most were Chileans who were amused and offering new vocabulary and expressions that will be added to the Cachando Glossary very soon!

So if you haven’t seen the article, take a look! (Gringas se matan de risa traduciendo chilenismos) (by Enrique Niño for Las Ultimas Noticias, Sunday August 16, 2009, Santiago de Chile).


15 responses to “Gringas die laughing

  1. Pingback: Gringas die laughing « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture | Chile Today

  2. Congrats on the article and starting it all here! I wanted to participate but unfortunately I’m just not that creative in Chilean. Mine would have been like Sipo…the end.

  3. Hablo inglés como las güeas. Pero gracias a estas gringas voy a terminar hablando la raja!

    Espero que sobrevivan en Chile.


  4. I almost participated and have one half-written–Though there are tons of modismos that I thought of using, I was waiting for inspiration on the story aspect. It might be too anti-climactic now…

    That is great that you (all) got interviewed. I always get asked a lot about what chilenismos were hardest or the most entertaining. There is something about thinking about the direct translation that is so funny–my husband (jokingly, of course) asks me about my “black feet” –which I was going to work somehow into my little story.

  5. Oh! Do it!! Write it! I mean, hey! since we’ve got this whole movement going and all 😉
    And it has been a lot of fun reading all the comments and suggestions that people have sent.
    And what’s this about patitas negras?

  6. I’ll try to finish it up…

    Are you asking if I actually have a “patitas negras” ? ;-0

  7. ha-ha… I just haven’t heard the expression before!

  8. That’s one of the great things about Chilean Spanish–there are so many expressions that you really never stop learning… plus they keep coming up with new ones. Every time we go visit, I (and even my husband–who is Chilean) have to catch up a little on the newest slang.

    patas negras is a (married) woman’s lover (if you hadn’t looked it up already) How did they come up with that one???

  9. Chis! Yet another one for the glossary! Never heard that one before! but I just looked it up, and sure enough, there it is in Chilean Jungle! If I find the source I’ll let you know!

  10. Because the women´s lover, when he gets cought (caundo lo “pillan”), have to run away without sockets. Therefore, his “patas” are “cochinas” or “negras”

  11. Thanks Tom!

    And for people who don’t speak Chilean feet are commonly referred to as “patas” (so are table legs by the way)…

  12. Pingback: Annje speaks Chilensis « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  13. Pingback: Chilean Spanglish Spoken Here: A Rooster from the Glue « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

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