Chile’s new president, Sebastian Piñera, not only leans to the right like George Bush, but it seems he went to the same school of public speaking. Much to the glee of news buffs, language hawks, and yes, even T-shirt makers, Piñera delighted us all with a bit of unintended levity, not once, but twice, in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.
Shortly after 9-year-old tsunami survivor Víctor Diaz, of Iloca, made the news with his now-famous twisted phrase “zafrada” instead of “frazada (for blanket) during an interview, the president did a little Bush-style word scrambling of his own. What was charming in a school kid turned out to be a You-Tube hilarious guffaw-worthy gaffe when coming from the mouth of the straight-laced national leader during a formal (and televised) speech!
Chile’s long coastline is particularly vulnerable to post-quake tidal waves, or tsunamis, known as maremotos in Spanish. In a speech meant to console and inspire the nation, the president unwittingly spoke of the Terremoto (earthquake) and the Marepoto. MarePOTO! If that’s not a giggly delight for schoolkidz, I don’t know what is! Poto, you see, and as any 3-year-old can tell you, refers to your, well, arse. This has got to be an all time first in presidential protocol-breaking!
Take a look for yourself. I’ve seen grown men nearly fall on the floor crying in fits of disbelieving laughter!
And, as if that in itself weren’t bad enough, somewhere around the same time he apparently referred to the same watery calamity and, making sure he did not self-inflict the same linguistic faux pas a second time, he attempted—and failed—to make use of its synonym, this time inventing another new term, the Tusunami. Get it?
Spanish speakers—go ahead an giggle for a moment while I gloss this for the Spanish-challenged… we’ll catch up in a minute…
He said TU-sunami, which, to a Spanish speaker is pretty funny because “tu” is the informal word for “you” or, in this case “your”… as if he were saying “this is YOUR tsunami, not MINE…
Naturally it didn’t take long for the You-Tube set to join in the fun, and there are many variations on this cute little dancing ditty:
And why not… of course someone had find a way to cash in, and the new “Piñipedia” T-Shirts are selling like hotcakes. Get yours now!
And here we thought the Piñera administration was going to be boring!