Rioplatófonos often say that they carry one another, yet they don’t actually do that. What do they mean by this then? Today we will talk about the expression “cargar a alguien” (to carry someone, literally speaking).
The first thing we have to say is that the verb “cargar” has several meanings in Spanish. I’ve just done a quick search in the DRAE (Diccionario de la Real Academia Española), and I’ve found (to my surprise) no less than 46 definitions! But don’t freak out, most of those meanings are either very closely related or very specific to a given domain. To keep it simple, we are going to say that one of the most common meanings of this verb is to carry or hold something or someone. So for example, we can carry a box or a baby: “cargar una caja“, “cargar un bebé“.
But this verb has another meaning, too. Look at this image from the website we talked about last time: Grandes Frases Ilustradas.
As you can probably guess from this picture, the second most common meaning for this verb is “to charge”, when talking about devices or their batteries, for instance. That is why in this picture you can see a mobile phone that, while being charged, says: “You’re charging me!”.
However, when a rioplatófono says “¡me estás cargando!” or asks “¿me estás cargando?“, they are neither being carried nor being charged… Ok, so much for suspense: let’s now solve this mystery. The expression “cargar a alguien” means to tease someone by jokingly lying. So when someone tries to fool somebody else or make them believe something untrue, this expression comes in handy. Look at this example from an Argentinian soap opera:
In this short dialogue, two people are talking on the phone about the police finding out about something apparently secret, and the guy doesn’t understand how that was possible. The woman says that there was someone who betrayed them and, after spying on them, gave them away. The guy can’t believe it, so he says the following at the end:
–Pero ¿qué decís, Marga? ¿Cómo que Mía policía? ¿Me estás cargando?
– But what are you saying, Marga? How come? Mía, a policewoman? Are you kidding me?
So whenever you think someone is lying to you for whatever reason, you can now say “¡Me estás cargando!” (You gotta be kidding me!).
And here’s a bonus! In English there’s an idiomatic expression with a similar meaning: “to pull someone’s leg”. In Spanish, we also have our own idiomatic expression to convey this meaning, but instead or pulling legs, we take people’s hair: “tomar el pelo“. So apart from saying “¿me estás cargando?“, you can also say “¿me estás tomando el pelo?“.