Piñerisms 1: Marepoto & Tusunami

PiñipediaChile’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!


21 responses to “Piñerisms 1: Marepoto & Tusunami

  1. I LOVE living in a democracy. And if it didn’t look from far away like I was actually supporting the current government, I might be tempted to buy one of those T-shirts.

    Catchy tune… tusunami!

  2. hahaha- naw… I don’t think that wearing a Piñipedia T-shirt can be construed as supporting the prez any more than delighting in Bushisms was a sign of liking HIS politics…

  3. The marepoto error is just hilarious! It is hard to even see where that “p” came from. So are Pinera supporters or opponents wearing those t-shirts?

  4. Ok- here’s my theory… they say he loves to hang out with his grandchildren, so can’t you just imagine some smart-aleck 8-year-old changing “moto” to “poto” (typical potty humor) and then all the little kids collapsing in fits of giggles and then repeating it over and over like parrots? So then it works its way into the president’s brain and slips out at the least appropriate moment!
    The same goes for the tu-sunami… I can picture some little kid misunderstanding and saying “no! no es MI sunami, es TU sunami” and it goes down in family lore and again, pops out at some unfortunate point!
    You’ve got kids… does that theory work for you?

  5. I think that tusunami is an attempt to pronounce the mute t.
    Pisicologia is 11,700 times in Google in
    Spanish. Gonomo 3340 times. Peterodactilo 602 times. Menemotecnia is 3 times. Oboscuro is 2 times.

  6. Hi Pedro- Long time, no see!
    Yes, I think if it were coming from someone else, I would let it pass as a simple pronunciation mistake, but Piñera is a well-educated man, and the president at that, so I find it hard to believe that someone in his position would (or could) make a mistake of that magnitude out of ignorance. I just have to believe that it was some kind of unconscious slip!
    Interesting google statistics, but it’s one thing to make a spelling mistake, and another for a president to make this kind of pronunciation mistake after one of the biggest natural disasters any president can inherit!

  7. That’s funny, check this twitter entry http://twitter.com/sebastianpinera/status/3832505611

    He wrote galactea instead of galaxia.

  8. Ai no! y es un tweet bastante cursi además! But, to be fair (if we must)… do we REALLY believe that the president is sending out his own philosophical tweets? (and if not, then the official twitterer needs a spell checker!

  9. Hi Margaret,
    thanks for confirming the “marepoto” incident. When my dad told me about it, I thought he was making it up! (as he is NOT a Pinera fan).
    As for Sebastian’s Tweets, geez, besides being a gazillionaire politician, he’s also a … poet! Move over, Pablo Neruda!
    Suzanne (from Canada)

  10. Hi Suzanne- Hard to believe, but true! What I haven’t been able to really confirm is the tu-sunami bit… all I find are the mock-up videos… If anyone caught that in its original form, please let me know!

  11. Oh, that is soooo funny! Thanks for a great post.

  12. Glad you liked it! Something tells me we’re going to be seeing more of this stuff in the years to come!

  13. “La galáctea” = “la galaxia Vía Láctea”. It’s a very interesting abbreviation, particularly because lacteus in Latin is the same as galaxias in Greek. Probably Piñera is a grecolatin scholar, and we didn’t know 🙂

  14. Ah!! So there we go! And does “marepoto” also have such noble roots? hehehe…

  15. The Star Wars video didn’t want to work so dang. But, yes I burst out laughing the first time I saw the “marepoto” clip on the news. I did not like Bush, but his ‘isms (can I say that?) made for rather interesting greeting cards. I can see that Chileans are even quicker on picking up the trend that we were.

  16. Yes, clearly, the man’s an idiot.

    That’s why he’s the President and you’re where you are.

  17. presidential protocol — or POTOcol?

  18. Hahaha good one Lisa- thanks for the chuckle!

  19. I dont know if you know tha “poto” in Chile means “ass”… that’s why marepoto is so funny for chilean people

  20. Sííí! (“arse” is a just slightly less offensive way of saying “ass.”

  21. Pingback: Estudiantes chilenos no aceptarán mermeleo ni acuerdos traidores con el Piñerismo « malcolmallison

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