19 Nov, 2014 @ 09:00
2 mins read

Mind your Slanguage!

I’VE been dying to call someone a ‘consecrated wafer eater’ ever since I found this delightful phrase in a Spanish slang dictionary. I’ve almost decided on the vicar.

Comerhostia (‘to eat the host’) is something vicars do all the time at Communion, and it only means ‘a goody goody’, which vicars supposedly are, so it could be construed as a complement.

But like the national dish, Spanish slang is a rich paella of saucy words and spicy phrases that should be handled with kid oven-gloves if you don’t want your pals to descojonarse (crack up laughing) – the social equivalent of removing your own testicles, as well as the literal meaning.

It’s unfailingly fruity… A mango is a hunky man but pineapples are trouble, as in darse una piña – to have a prang in the car. Staying with greengrocery, no te importe un pepino means you couldn’t give a cucumber’s toss. Imagine Gone With The Wind’s Rhett Butler saying that to Miss Scarlet, rather than his immortal “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

It’s frequently fishy … A bagre (codfish) is an ugly person, a besugo (red snapper) is an idiot and you go on a hake (merluza) rather than a drinking binge. If you’re off alcohol, never tell the waiter “I’m the café con leche” unless you really mean to tell him you’re gay.

It’s food-focused to the point of obsession. To bear ill will towards someone is tener mala leche (to have bad milk) in which case, you might want to hacer arroz con culo (raise hell or, more literally, ‘make rice with your bottom’). Avoid both in the same sentence or it conjures up a somewhat unsavoury milk pudding.

Unsurprisingly, sausages of all types (butifarra, chorizo) are colloquialisms for the male appendage but so is canario … That’s canary the bird, so presumably the type that lives in ‘budgie smugglers’… Simply cambiar el agua al canario (change its water) to have a pee! If you’re female, and someone admires your ‘escaparate’ (shop window) or ‘anginas’ (‘chest inflammations’!) give them a slap! They’re being lewd about your breasts.

Finally, when it’s not about food, Spanish slang has a tendency towards the scatological, so watch where you’re walking! Andar (to walk) con el cutis flojo – with loose skin – means you’ve a nasty case of ‘the runs’ while andar con mal tapón (‘with a bad plug’ – something you might do if your cutis is flojo) is the medical opposite (though not to be used at the Doctor’s). Inexplicably, andar con pelota (walk with the ball), is to be in love but be careful with this one, too. In the plural (andar con pelotas) you would be walking around b***ock naked!

‘Slang shots’ to try out on your friends:

  • Aplastado como un sapo – squashed as a toad – exhausted
  • Buscar las pulgas a alguien – search someone for fleas – to wind someone up
  • Deberle a las vírgines – to owe the virgins – to be in bad debt
  • Le ronca la madre de los tomates – snore the mother’s tomatoes off – good heavens!
  • Planchar la oreja – to iron your ear – to go to sleep

Belinda Beckett (Columnist)

Belinda Beckett is a qualified journalist and freelance writer based in the Campo de Gibraltar, specialising in travel & lifestyle features and humour columns.

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