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Towards a more colorful vocabulary in 30 days

17 July 2010

There are plenty of those “word of the day” and “build your vocabulary” sites for non-native Spanish speakers, but most are frankly boring.  And either give you words you already know, or ones you’ll really have to stretch to find any use for in any given day.  Not so with the website posted semi-regularly by Chicago economics consultant Pablo.  Modestly billed as working “towards a manual of communication for the English speaker visiting Mexico City” it is a lot more than that… entertaining and instructing in equal measure … and teaching us the words we really do need, and are are not going to have too much trouble building into a conversation on any given day.

Effective Swearing in D.F.” isn’t so much about learning the swear words — and most entries are not groserías but modismos —  Pablo is careful to give us the proper (and sometimes improper) usages, mostly understood throughout Mexico.

As for example in this post from 28 June on jefe and jefa:

Jefe and jefa are masculine and feminine for chief or boss. They are typically used to refer to parents. This might be a source of confusion. That’s why we suggest the use of patrón in opposition to jefe. Patrón (like the tequila brand) literally means boss in a work related context.


Marlon: ¿Y esa camionetota tan chingona?

Brando: Es de mi jefe.

Marlon: ¿De tu patrón o de tu progenitor?

Brando: No la cagues. Mi patrón tiene un zapatito bien jodido.

Marlon: Where did you get that bad ass SUV?

Brando: It’s my chief’s.

Marlon: Your boss or your father?

Brando: C’mon, my boss drives a beaten up Renault 5.

Zapatito (little shoe) is the affectionate nickname for Renault 5

And, what better way to discuss the differences between “ser” and “estar” than considering pacheco, with its  Cheech and Chong meets Abbot and Costello possibilities?

The term pacheco (pah-CZECH-awe) allows Spanish non-native speakers to grasp the difference between ser and estar. On one hand, estar pacheco means to be stoned. On the other, ser pacheco means to be a stoner, a pothead. Caution: Pacheco is also a common family name.

Also helpful to know:

La pacheca: the act of consuming cannabis.
Pachecada: something a stoner would say or do.

Mensajero: Buenas tardes, ¿es usted Pacheco?
Gutiérrez: No, yo nomás ando pacheco.
Pacheco: Déjate de pachecadas, Gutiérrez. Disculpe joven, yo soy Pacheco. Este cabrón es un pacheco.

Messenger: Good afternoon. Are you Pacheco?
Gutierrez: Nope. I’m just a little stoned.
Pacheco: Stop the stoner non-sense. Sorry, I am Pacheco. This dude is a pothead.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 18 July 2010 6:35 am

    It is always said that Mexicans have a great sense of color. .. including “vocabulario colorido”… great post. Perhaps one dayI’ll do a similar one about Yucatecan inventive verbage. Just maybe they beat out los chilangos…

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