A couple of weeks ago, a new friend of mine visited Luján (a small city in the province of Buenos Aires) and took a picture of a fast-food restaurant with an interesting name. Have a look at the photo and pay attention to the sign of the shop.
Any idea of what the meaning behind “RE PANCHOS” could be? If you’ve been reading the previous entries of this blog, you’ll probably remember we’ve already discussed the use of “re“. Now, “pancho” might be a new word to you. We’ll start by saying that it means “hot-dog”. You might have guessed that from the picture, though. But what do these two words mean combined?
If you don’t know/remember the meaning of “re“, you can check it out here, but in a nutshell, we can translate this tiny word as “very” or “really”. It is normally used before adjectives and it works as an intensifier. However, it can also modify nouns and in such cases we cannot, of course, translate it simply as “very”. After all, what would a “very hot-dog” mean, right?
When this particle “re” modifies a noun, it turns the noun into a superlative form. It conveys the idea of a highest/lowest degree or the best/worst quality of something.
Una re depresión
The worst depression ever
Una re fiesta
The best party ever
The best hot-dogs ever
The interesting thing about this use of “re + noun” is that the process of construction of meaning can get very creative. These panchos could be re panchos for several different reasons. Maybe they are super tasty, or maybe they are super large, or maybe you can add lots of different toppings to them. Similarly, if you tell someone that you just got a new job, but not just any ordinary job, sino un re trabajo, that could be a very well-paid job, or maybe a job that requires very little effort or time, or maybe a job that implies doing something special to which not many people have access (like interviewing celebrities or something of the sort). The actual specific meaning will always depend on the context.
- “Best hot-dogs ever”, then. Is that all?
I’m afraid not. There is more to discuss here, as the word “pancho” can have other meanings, too. In castellano rioplatense, we can also use this word in informal contexts to describe people or animals. Someone described as “pancho” can be “calm”, “relaxed” or even “lazy”; someone who enjoys lying around and doing nothing.
Estoy re pancho, mirando una peli en la cama.
I’m very relaxed, watching a movie in bed.
¿Tu gato duerme todo el día? ¡Qué pancho!
Your cat sleeps all day? He’s such a lazybones!
It can also be used to describe someone who doesn’t easily get annoyed or bothered, someone who never gets worried or doesn’t care much about things. So if you know people who never lose their temper, they could be good examples of “panchos“.
Juan es un pancho. Aunque lo insultes, no te va a responder.
Juan never loses his temper. Even if you insult him, he won’t answer back.
Another possible use of the word “pancho” is to refer to people who are not very smart or who are so innocent that they can’t read between the lines.
Es re pancho, no se da cuenta de que querés dejarlo.
He’s so dumb, he doesn’t realize you want to break up with him.
And last (I promise!) but not least, “Pancho” is also a very common nickname for the name “Francisco” and, well, for lazy pets, too! I once met a dog named Pancha, who (needless to say) was sleeping all the time!
Anyway, as you can see, there are lots of meanings attached to this word. Can you imagine Pancho re pancho comiendo panchos? But going back to the beginning, what do you think the name of the hot-dog place means then? I guess the most evident meaning in this case would be “best hot-dogs ever”, but at the same time it seems to be a good strategy to add this idea of going to this place to chill out and relax while eating something. Just forget about your problems and enjoy your hot-dogs!
Let’s see if you can now spot all these different meanings we’ve discussed in the following set of pictures. I know you can! 😉