[#022] ¡No a los cohetes al cohete!

We are getting closer to the end of 2014 and things are about to get noisy. I’m talking about fireworks. Today we’ll discuss the word “cohete” and how it can be used in the River Plate area.

I have recently come across a Facebook page called “Elba, la paloma cardíaca“, where we can basically see a pigeon, named Elba, that is against the use of fireworks as they affect animals negatively. The phrase “la paloma cardíaca” actually implies that Elba can suffer from a heart attack, as a result of loud explosions. This is what the cover of the page looks like:

no a los cohetes al cohete

Are you familiar with the word “cohete“? It has two basic and general meanings: “fireworks” and “rocket”. But there is definitely more to it, as we shall see on this entry.

The first interesting thing about this word is that not many people pronounce it like that. In fact, you may easily come across a different spelling for this word: “cuete“. It seems that pronouncing two “open vowels” (vocales abiertas: a, e, o) is more difficult than producing a combination of a “closed vowel” (vocal cerrada: i, u) and an open one. So, many people tend to say “cuete“, as it is easier to glide from a “u” to an “e”, from the point of view of articulation. Likewise, words like “almohada” or “héroe” sometimes come out more like /almuada/ and /erue/, but these have not acquired a new spelling, at least for now!

But let’s go back to the meaning now. The word “cohete” or “cuete” can also have another meaning in the River Plate area. Just like the word “pedo“, “cuete” can mean “fart”, and I’m sure you can imagine why. In this sense, in general, the word “cuete” has an affective component and is normally considered less rude or vulgar: it’s the kind of word you would use while talking to a child, for instance. But of course, it very much depends on the context and how you use it. In a formal situation, you would probably resort to words like “gas” or “flatulencia“… Or you would simply avoid the topic, of course. 😉

Now that you are an expert on the pronunciation, meanings and uses of the word “cohete“, let’s have a look at the title of this entry: ¡No a los cohetes al cohete! (Say NO to pointless fireworks!)

As you can see, the informal expression “al cohete” has a special meaning. “Hacer algo al cuete” or also “hacer algo al pedo” means “to do something pointlessly or in vain”. Something done in this way is surely not worth it, unnecessary or a waste of time. Suppose you decide to surprise one of your friends by showing up at their place without letting them know in advance. So you get there and you find out that they are not at home. In that case, you can say “¡Vine al pedo/cuete!” (I came here in vain).

Let’s now have a look at one of the images posted on the page Elba, la paloma cardíaca:


Let’s look at the bottom line first, where the word “cohete” appears twice. A rough translation would be: “Do not use fireworks, which cause nothing but noise. They are very dangerous, dogs and birds suffer a lot [from them] and you waste money pointlessly.” Yes, the word “plata” does not only mean “silver”, but also “dinero” (“money”) in the River Plate area. This is not slang, though; just a common word to refer to money.

And what about the actual message uttered by Elba? She starts by saying: “Come on, cheapskate!”. Of course, the word “ratón” means “mouse”. But when the words “ratón” or “rata” are used colloquially to refer to a person, they mean “stingy”.

And then, Elba adds: “You buy the cheapest nougat candy at the Chinese market, but you spend your end-of-year bonus on fireworks.” Here, the word “berreta” means “cheapest” or “lowest quality” and it is slang, so it is used only in informal contexts. Then, the word “chino“, apart from referring to a nationality, is used by some people to imply “Chinese market”.

Anyway, I hope the terms discussed here were new for you! Otherwise, this entry would have been “al pedo” or “al cuete“. 🙂

[#021] This is Buenos Aires (II)

This time we will continue analyzing the video from our previous entry. We have already discussed some cultural aspects portrayed in this video, but we didn’t get to analyse all the typical rioplatense expressions that appear in it. So we’ll do that today. Here’s the video again:

So we did actually get to see some linguistic expressions last time, like “jamón del medio” or “la posta“. And we have also briefly discussed the meaning of “choripán“, “asado” and “bache“. But there are some other typical expressions that we can learn from this video as well. Two comments first:

At 1:46, there’s a short scene where Claudio tells Willy and Peter that if they need to wash their clothes, they can do it there at “Matilda wash”. He then tells Matilda, his mum, “Permiso, Matilda, open the way”, as he translates “abra el paso” literally into English. And here Matilda says “Chanta, hijo de puta” after realizing what his son is doing: making the guys from England believe that Matilda’s house is a hostel. Do you remember the meaning of “chanta“? We have already seen it on a previous entry. It means “lier” in castellano rioplatense.

At 2:33 Claudio tries to explain to his guests what a “subte” (subway/underground) is. If you listen to him carefully, you’ll notice how he pronounces the word “escuchá“. Do you remember what we’ve said about the aspiration of letter “s” before another consonant? You can barely listen to his /s/ here. You can find another clear instance of this aspiration of the /s/ sound at 3:13 (“estuve nueve meses estudiando inglés…” and “a mí me chupa un huevo lo que estuviste estudiando“).

Alright, let’s now look more closely at this dialogue between Claudio and his mother and sister (2:50), and concentrate on the new expressions. I’ll add an aproximate translation afterwards.

    —Te tendrías que haber casado con Luis vos, que era un tipo sano, fuerte, trabajador…
    —Era un plomo, mamá, Luis. Era un plomo.
    —¿Qué querés tener al lado? ¿Un payaso que te haga reír todo el tiempo?
    —Sacá de acá- Salí de acá, Claudio.
    —El mate, necesito el mate. Peter quiere tomar mate.
    —Bueno, escuchame una cosa, que mamá está muy enojada, muy enojada, porque no entiende por qué estás haciendo esto.
    —Me sorprende que vos no me estés bancando en esta. Yo me preparé, ¡me preparé! Estuve nueve meses estudiando inglés.
    —A mí me chupa un huevo lo que estuviste estudiando. Me metiste dos ingleses en mi casa. ¡No tenés patria vos, Claudio! No te importa nada. Aparte, yo los escucho a la noche, Claudio. ¡Son homosexuales, Claudio! ¡Son homosexuales!
    —Son avanzados, se visten así. En el primer mundo son así. ¡Abrí la mente, prejuiciosa!
    —¡Yo no tengo ninguna mente que abrir, Claudio, eh!
    —Prometenos que es la última vez que hacés esto y ya está. Y listo, solucionado el problema, ¿o no, ma? ¿O no, ma?
    —Quizás es la última vez que me ven a mí también… Quizás.
    —Dejalo que se vaya… Pero que deje las plantitas.

    —You should have married Luis; he was a sound, strong and hard-working guy…
    —Luis was unbearable, mum. He was a bore.
    —Who do you want by your side? A clown who’ll make you life all the time?
    —Excuse me…
    —Get the- Get out of here, Claudio.
    —The mate, I need the mate. Peter wants to drink mate.
    —Well, listen to me, mum is very angry, very angry, because she doesn’t understand why you’re doing this.
    —I can’t believe that you are not supporting me here. I prepared myself. I prepared myself! I’ve been studying English for nine months.
    —I don’t give a fuck about what you’ve been studying. You brought two Englishmen to my home. You have no love for your country, Claudio! You don’t care at all. Besides, I listen to them at night, Claudio. They are homosexuals, Claudio! They are homosexuals!
    —They are progressive, they dress like that. People are like that in the first world. Open your mind, you prejudiced woman!
    —I don’t have have to open my mind at all, Claudio!
    —Promise us that this is the last time you do this, and that’s it. Problem solved; right, mum? Right, mum?
    —Maybe this is also the last time you see me… Maybe.
    —Let him go… But he should leave the “plants” here.

The first expression from this dialogue that we can comment upon is the word “plomo“, which means literally “lead” (as in the metal). But when rioplatófonos use this word to describe someone, it means that that person is really dull and boring. We can also use the word “pesado” (heavy) or “denso” (dense) to convey the same idea. In addition, “ser un plomo” can also imply being annoying or a pain in the neck.

So in this case, Claudia describes Luis as a really boring person (¡un plomo!) and that is why her mother asks her if she wants to have a clown by her side, i.e. someone who will make her laugh all the time.


The second word we’ll have a look at is the verb “bancar (a alguien)“. This verb can have several different meanings. In this context, Claudio is telling his sister that he is surprised she isn’t supporting him, helping him, backing him up: me sorprende que vos no me estés bancando en esta. In a different context, this verb could mean “to support financially”, and also “to bear, tolerate or stand” (as in “bancar a un plomo” or “to put up with a bore”). What’s more, this expression can be used as a synonym of “wait” or “hang in there” as well (e.g. “bancá un minuto“). And the expression “bancársela” could be translated as “to be brave enough to face/endure a tough situation”. Hmm, I guess we’ll have to devote a special entry to this verb in the future, so you can see more examples of how it can be used!

The last expression we are going to discuss from this dialogue is “me chupa un huevo“. When rioplatófonos say that something “les chupa un huevo“, they mean that they don’t care about that thing at all… but in a very vulgar way. A good translation for this would probably be “I don’t give a fuck/damn about that”. And its literal translation would be “(something) sucks one of my eggs” (“eggs” referring to “testicles” here), so yeah, it’s definitely a vulgar expression and you should be careful with how you use it. And as you can see from this video, women can use it too.

Me chupa un huevo

Here’s the second dialogue in Spanish from the video (4:55):

    —¡Claudio, esta gente está enferma! Está volando de fiebre este tipo… Y vos también. Mirá cómo están. A ver, correte… ¡Claudia, traé un balde que van a vomitar todo! Ahh, pobrecito…
    —Hay que llevarlos a la Embajada, que se mueran ahí, mamá.
    —Vos no tenés corazón. Por eso estás con ese payaso. Pobre gente. Yo los voy a cuidar, se van a quedar una semana acá en casa. Esto es todo mío. ¿Sí? Quédense tranquilos que se van a poner bien. ¿Sí?

    —Yeah, I feel I’m dying over here…
    —No pasa nada, bebé. Va a estar todo bien. A mí me gustaría conocer Inglaterra también.
    —¡Pero mamá, vos odiás a los ingleses!
    —Dejame, que estoy hablando con la gente tranquila… Yo quiero ir allá. A mí no me preocupa que ustedes sean homosexuales. A mí me gustan también las cosas por el culo: es lindo.

    —Claudio, these people are sick! This guys is running a fever… And you too. Look at you. Let’s see, move aside a bit… Claudia, bring a bucket, they are going to throw it all up! Aww, poor boy…
    —We have to take them to the Embassy and let them die there, mum.
    —You have no heart! That’s why you’re dating that “clown”. Poor guys. I’m going to take care of you, you’ll stay here for a week. This house is all mine, ok? Don’t worry, you’ll get better, ok?
    —Yeah, I feel I’m dying over here…
    —There’s nothing to worry about, dear. Everything will be alright. I would like to visit England, too.
    —But you hate people from England, mum!
    —Let me talk with these guys on my own… I want to go there. I don’t mind that you are gay. I also like it form behind: it’s nice.
    —Let me (talk with them).

From this second part, we’ll just look at the verb “correrse“. Of course, the verb “correr” can be used in the sense of “running” or “moving at a high speed”, but it can also be used as a transitive verb (requiring a direct object) in the sense of “moving something from one place to another“. So if you want to say something like “move the chair”, you can then say “corré (vos) la silla“, and nobody will think that they have to go running after it. Now, if what needs to be moved is oneself, then we can use this verb reflexively, which takes us back to “correrse“.

    Dame un segundo y me corro.
    Give me a second and I’ll move.

    Correte, por favor.
    Move aside, please.

I’m pointing this out, because apparently this usage isn’t very common in Spain, where “correrse” means “to ejaculate/cum”. So yeah, you can just reread these previous examples, but with this other meaning in mind now, and see why someone from Spain will surely have a laugh listening to us rioplatófonos. And, by the way, to express this other meaning in the River Plate area, we can use the colloquial expression “acabar“. Yes, “acabar” usually means to “finish” or “complete”, but it can also have this other sexually-related meaning here, i.e. “to cum”.

And that’s all for today! But if there are other expressions from this video that you would like me to explain, feel free to ask in the comments below.


[#020] This is Buenos Aires (I)

Today we’ll keep on learning about the typical culture of rioplatenses, or people from the River Plate area. Well, to be more accurate, we’ll be talking specifically about porteños, i.e. people who live in Buenos Aires.

I’ll share a video that is actually a funny sketch made by a group of young rioplatófonos. The main character here represents a porteño who wants to meet people from other countries and decides to invite foreigners to Buenos Aires, offering them a place to stay and also showing them around the city. Two guys from Great Britain arrive and… Let’s see what happens.

Did you like the video? Did you understand the parts in Spanish? We’ll be working later with some typical expressions of the River Plate area that appear in this video, but for this entry we’ll concentrate on some general cultural aspects first.

The first thing that we should point out is, naturally, the mate. You are already familiar with this typical drink, as we have already talked about it on our previous entry. So I’m sure you knew what Claudio was talking about (and holding in his hand) at the very beginning of the video.

In the second scene, we see Claudio receiving Peter and Willy. Did you notice that he gives them both a kiss on the cheek and also hugs them? Of course you did! Well, he’s overreacting a bit here in a humorous purpose, but that’s just how we roll, haha! In general, rioplatenses (and people from Latin America for that matter) are very warm and affectionate. We show our feelings quite openly. And yes, when rioplatenses greet someone in an everyday situation, we usually kiss that person on the cheek. And it doesn’t matter if the greeting is between a man and a woman, two women or two men. As long as it’s not a formal situation (which usually requires a handshake), we can greet others like this. Even if it’s someone you’ve never met before, like one of your friend’s friends. This may be shocking to some people, but hey, in some other parts of the world, like Québec or France, you normally greet people with two kisses, or sometimes even more! We just give one kiss, so it’s no big deal, right? 😀

Welcome England_

As a result of our open, effusive and friendly nature, we don’t just speak through our mouths, but also through our bodies. You may have already noticed this in Claudio, as he’s moving his hands around virtually all the time as he speaks. We’ve probably inherited this from the big waves of Italian immigrants who came to Buenos Aires during the last century. If you ask rioplatenses about their grandparents, you’ll find out that they were probably from Italy or Spain. But let’s focus on two specific instances of body language right now.

At 1:38, Claudio says “Ustedes tienen lindas mujeres también: Lady Di, las Spice Girls… Jamón del medio“, and then he kisses his fingertips. This expression “jamón del medio” means literally the middle part of the ham, which is regarded as the best/most delicious part. When this expression is applied to people, and women in particular, it means that they are very attractive. And yes, this hand gesture conveys the same idea.

At 4:18, Claudio says “Ok, this is Argentinian… very… food, the posta“, as he tries to explain (to the best of his linguistic skills) that they are about to eat a very traditional Argentinian meal (and the best one, according to him). He doesn’t seem to find a good translation for the word “posta“, though, so he says it in Spanish. In this case, “la posta” means “the absolute best, without question”. What’s more, “posta” can sometimes be translated as “truly” or “really”. For example, when you want to verify if something actually happened or if something is true, you can ask “¿Posta?“, which is equivalent to “¿De verdad?” or “¿En serio?“. And another common expression related to this is “decir la posta“, which means simply “to tell the truth”… Once again, this idea of “the best” or “the truth” can be accompanied by Claudio’s gesture: you make your thumb and index fingertips touch and form a ring, and you move your hand up and down.


Let’s now look at some other cultural points that we can gather from the video. After seeing Claudio, can you think of a common stereotype for porteños? People from Buenos Aires (and all Argentines by extension) are often said to be very arrogant and conceited. This is of course not true for everybody and I’m sure you can find arrogant people everywhere in the world, but I guess that we can see this attitude when Claudio tries to explain to his guests what the subway/underground is, as if they didn’t know already, or when he tells them that “we have the best pretty girls of the world in Argentina”.

Another interesting character in this video is Matilda, Claudio’s mum. She’s characterized as adhering to certain beliefs and values that, in my opinion, are shared by a big group of people of her generation. For example, she tells her daughter that she should have settled down and married a guy described as morally sound, strong and hard-working, regardless of the fact that her daughter thought he was boring and therefore probably wasn’t in love with him. She tells Claudio that he has no love for his country, because he let two Englishmen stay at her place, making a clear reference to the resentment some rioplatenses have towards Great Britain regarding the Malvinas (Falklands) conflict. And she points out the fact that Willy and Peter are gay in a negative manner. Claudio tells her that she should have a more open mind and not be so prejudiced. (Nevertheless, I’d say that in general younger generations don’t share these ideas anymore.)

En mi casa_

Moving on… Did you notice all the references to food on this video? Well, we have already talked about the “la posta” scene. There, these guys are eating choripán (“chorizo” is a kind of sausage, usually made from pork, and “pan” means bread, so “choripán” would be a kind of sausage sandwich), which is part of any genuine asado. In a nutshell, asado consists of different cuts of meat grilled on a parrilla and it serves as an excuse for family or friends to gather, especially during the weekend.

Birra” is a common word that rioplatófonos use to refer to beer in informal contexts, although we can also use the more general word “cerveza“. In this video, Claudio says “birrita” after sharing some choripán with Willy and Peter, and we can see him drink it from a bottle of Quilmes, a very popular beer brand here. And lastly, at 4.00, we can see them buying some garrapiñada, or caramel-coated peanuts.

And the last two points worth-mentioning: tango and baches. Tango is one of the reasons this area is best known for, and in Buenos Aires you can see people dancing tango in San Telmo, a traditional neighbourhood, among other places. At 4:04, you can see someone learning to dance tango in the street. Then, we have the word “bache“, which means “pothole”. You can see one in this video at 3:55. Believe it or not, these “baches” are also part of our culture and you can easily spot one if you walk a lot around Buenos Aires. But don’t worry, when election days are coming closer, our political leaders in power make sure they disappear.


Well, on our next entry we will have a closer look at the Spanish dialogues in this video, as there are some interesting words and expressions that need to be explained. But this is all for now… And probably the longest entry so far!

[#019] Amargo y retruco, carajo

As Halloween is getting closer, some of you may be wondering if rioplatófonos celebrate it too. Well, that’s a tricky question… Today we’ll look at three cultural aspects of the Rive Plate area: a celebration, a traditional beverage and a popular game.

Halloween is not really a traditional celebration around this area. Nevertheless, it has recently become kind of popular and you may spot some children wearing costumes here and there, asking for candy or sweets. Sometimes it’s specially organised by parents in a specific neighbourhood or just along some blocks. Other times it’s a special activity organised by some schools. And then, of course, it also works as an excuse for young people and adults to go out to nightclubs or have parties. But no, it’s not like the whole town gets creepy decorations or anything. Or at least not yet.

Now, as a consequence of this recent “popularization” of Halloween, some people have started to express their discontent saying that we should only stick to our own traditional celebrations, and not adopt others which are not really part of our culture. Have a look at the following picture:


Here we can see two kids celebrating Halloween and saying “¿Dulce o truco?“. Another possible version for “trick or treat” is “truco o trato“, but you will soon see why the words “dulce” and “truco” are specially chosen for this picture. Next to the kids we see a gaucho. For those of you who are not familiar with gauchos, we can briefly say that they are the typical traditional residents of the pampas. You are not likely to come across them in urban areas, but you can see them riding their horses in the countryside. In this picture, this gaucho answers “¡Amargo y retruco, carajo!“, which leads us to the other two things that I want to mention today: the typical drink and game.

First of all, the word “amargo” (“bitter”) refers to what this guy is drinking: mate, a traditional drink in all of the River Plate area, and especially in Uruguay. There’s a whole ritual to it, but in a nutshell, it’s a sort of tea that we have. You can see this gaucho is holding a gourd. That gourd is filled with yerba mate (the actual tea leaves), and then we introduce a “bombilla“, i.e. a straw, which has a special filter on its end. So then we pour hot water into it and take a sip. Voilà! The “real” or true mate is supposed to be bitter, but some people can add sugar to it to make it sweet. A gaucho wouldn’t probably approve of that, though.

Oh, and probably the most important thing: even though you can have it on your own, this is actually a shared drink. Yes, there’s only one straw for it, we know… But no, we don’t care. It’s a group thing and you can always share mate with your family and friends. There’s always a “cebador“, someone in charge of pouring it. This person always tries the first mate. Then he pours a new one and gives it to somebody else. This other person drinks it all up. Then the mate goes back to the cebador, who will pour a new one again, and give it to the next person in the group. The mate is passed on like that until there’s no more water left.


And here’s a good tip: be careful with being polite when having mate. You may feel tempted to say thanks when you receive or have finished a mate, but saying “gracias” when handing it back means that you’ve had enough. So if you say thanks after your first mate, then that’s all you will get!

Then, we have the word “retruco“. This word comes actually from a very popular card game called “Truco“. It’s not exclusive to the River Plate area, but it’s still very common here and everybody knows about it. I will not explain the rules or how to play it here myself, but I will leave a video with information about it anyway for those who want to know more. All I’ll say is that the name of this game comes from a special move that you can make during the game. When a player goes for “truco” (literal translation of “trick”), instead of playing for just 1 point, there are 2 points at stake. If the other player is confident enough and thinks he can win the hand, he can call for “retruco“: 3 points at stake. And if the original player decides to go even further, then there’s “vale cuatro“, which is worth 4 points.

Here’s the video with the guy explaining how to play Truco:

Question: Did you notice whether this guy has a rioplatense accent when he pronounces some Spanish words? There’s one place in particular where you should be able to tell (1:50). When he presents the cards and says their names, he refers to three of them: “sota, caballo y rey“. One of these three words can help you realize if he speaks Spanish like a rioplatófono or not. If you can’t guess what I’m talking about, click here.

Anyway, going back to the original picture of this post… The kids go “¿Dulce o truco?“. They are clearly speaking in the context of Halloween, so “dulce” stands for “sweet treat” and “truco” would refer to a kind of prank or mischief to scare the man if he refuses to give candy. But when the gaucho answers “¡Amargo y retruco, carajo!“, he’s disregarding Halloween and focusing on his traditional culture. When you talk about mate around here, you can say “¿Dulce o amargo?” to ask if the other person likes it bitter or sweet. The gaucho, of course, likes it amargo. And when you spout “truco” here, the first thing that crosses your mind is the card game. That’s why this gaucho answers “retruco“, as if he were raising the bet.

Finally, the gaucho also says “carajo“. We have already talked briefly about this word on our previous entry. So we’ll just say now that it’s an interjection that shows surprise or anger.

Ok, then. You’re now free to go celebrate Halloween and eat candy! Or play Truco online instead, while having some mate amargo. Or maybe both! Why not? 🙂

[#018] ¡La pucha!

A couple of weeks ago, Mafalda turned 50. Yet, she still looks as if she were only 6! Have you ever heard of her?

She’s the main character of a very popular comic strip written and drawn by Quino, a well-known Argentine cartoonist. Mafalda is a girl who always makes interesting observations about complex and mature topics, and is always worried about humanity and where the world is heading to.

As people remembered and celebrated her birthday, some decided to share her strips online, and I came across this one:

Mafalda (2)

Reading “la pucha” made me think that I could explain the meaning of this expression in this blog. Now, I’ve read that “pucha” means “vagina” in Mexico, but it has a totally different meaning in español rioplatense. In the River Plate area this is actually a euphemism, that is to say, a mild word or expression that is used instead of a more harsh or offensive one, as is the case of “heck” used instead of “hell”, or “shoot” instead of “shit”.

So… Any idea of what “la pucha” could stand for here? It stands for “la puta (madre)“; but when this expression is uttered, we are not really talking about a whore (direct translation of “puta“). This is actually an expression of surprise, anger or frustration. A good equivalent in English would probably be “dang”, a euphemism for “damn”.

In this comic strip then, Mafalda seems to be playing with her friend Felipe, and apparently they are both pretending to be in a cowboy film. Felipe shouts “Bang!” — he’s just shot his toy gun. Mafalda then says “¡la pucha!“, as things didn’t go well for her, and falls down and fakes being dead. Felipe doesn’t like the fact that Mafalda uses a typical rioplatense expression, implying that that’s not what a cowboy would normally say, so she’s probably killing the mood. Near the end of the strip Mafalda resorts to another euphemism. Did you also spot it? She says to her friend “¿por qué no te vas un poco al cuerno…?” as she criticises the use of foreign words in our culture. (Oh, shit! I mean… Shoot! I’m writing all of this in English, haha! Sorry, Mafalda!)

Irse al cuerno” does not really mean “to go to the horn”, which would be its literal translation. That makes no sense. Instead, it stands for “irse al carajo“, which in this case could be translated as “to go to hell” or “to fuck off”.

You may be familiar with other words like “caramba” or “caray“, which are also euphemisms for “carajo“, but these are only used as interjections, to show surprise or anger. Anyway, these two words are not frequently used by rioplatófonos, and they just can’t be used as euphemisms in the expression “irse al carajo“.

dia de mierda

Another euphemism commonly used in the River Plate area is “miércoles” (“Wednesday”), when we want to avoid saying “mierda” (“shit”). For example, if we do not want to sound so rude in an informal context, we can ask “¿qué miércoles pasa acá?” (“what the heck is going on here?”), or we can express anger or frustration by saying “¡qué día de miércoles!” (“what a shitty day!”, even if it’s not actually a Wednesday).

There are lots of expressions that work in the same way, but we’ll be seeing them in the future, little by little. For now, you can just concentrate on “pucha“, “irse al cuerno” and “miércoles“.

By the way, going back to Mafalda… Did you know that you can take a picture of you sitting right next to her if you come to Buenos Aires? Yes! You can meet her in San Telmo, a traditional neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. She’s sitting on a bench, waiting for you, right at the corner of Defensa and Chile street. Come on, come and say hi to her! 😉


[#017] Pasame el coso

Which is the Spanish word in the River Plate area that means both nothing and everything at the same time? Any clue? Look at the following picture:


Yes, today’s word is “coso“. Of course, nothing in the room in the previous picture is actually called “coso“, yet everything could be referred to using that word!

This word sure looks like the masculine form of the word “cosa” (“thing”), but it doesn’t work just like that. It is mainly used in the following special situations: when there is something that doesn’t have a clear name, or when you don’t know/remember the name of something in particular. And that is precisely why this word can be very useful to learners of Spanish, too!

A typical example of something that is usually referred to with this word in Spanish is the pizza saver: that thingy that prevents the cheese from sticking to the pizza box.


If you do some research online, you will see that some people say it is (or should be) called “guardapizzas” or “trípode“, but I assure you that calling it just “el cosito de la pizza” is way more common! To us it’s just “that little thingy on the pizza”, you know?

But as I said before, a “coso” doesn’t necessarily have to be something that doesn’t have a clear name. Suppose you see something in the distance and you have no clue what that could be. In that case, you could tell someone: “¡Mirá ese coso! ¿Qué será?” (Look at that! What could it be?)

Or suppose you’re talking about a very common object or simple thing, but you just can’t remember the word for it at the moment: “Pasame el coso… Ese coso. ¿Cómo se llama? No me sale. ¡Ay, el sacacorcho!” (Give me that thingy… That one. What’s it called? I can’t remember. Oh, the corkscrew!)

What’s more, “coso” can even replace the name of a person: “Anoche vi a… Coso. Tu amigo. ¿Cómo se llama? El de rulos.” (Yesterday night I saw… Hmm, your friend. What’s his name? The one with curly hair.)

You may also come across this word if you go to a ferretería or hardware store. Look at the following picture:

Cosito Del Coso

Apparently, when we go to ferreterías to buy something, we don’t always know/remember the right name for that thingy we need (nut? screw? bolt? washer?) that goes attached to the other thingy… And so we resort to our multifaceted friend, “el coso“!

And last, but not least, “coso” may also be used as a muletilla or filler word, very much like “so” or “well”, but only in very informal contexts. In these cases it refers to nothing in particular; it just helps us connect different utterances or start a new one.

Bueno, coso 😉 To bring this entry to an end, let’s now have a look at the following comic strip:


Buenas” is an informal way to greet someone and it can be used at any time of the day, and “botón” doesn’t mean “button” in this context. In Rioplatense Spanish, someone who is referred to as “botón” is actually a tattletale, or just someone who discloses information that should not be revealed.

So, any clue what that thingy on the man’s head is? If you have no idea like me, no worries. You now know it can just be a “coso“!

[#016] ¡Hijo de re mil P*7@!

To many people studying a foreign language, learning typical insults and swear words is one of the first, fun things to do. We’ve already seen some common insults in Rioplatense Spanish, like boludo and pelotudo, but there’s an interesting video which will help us learn lots of other words, too.

In this video you will see a rioplatófona recording a message for her boyfriend. Here it goes:

Did you understand the message? I’ll add a transcription below, but let’s go over it quickly anyway. One thing is obvious: this girl is really mad (or muy caliente) at her boyfriend… Apparently he left her a note on a napkin saying he wants to take some time for himself and put off the wedding. Lovely, right? This is why she loses her temper and shouts several insults at him by the end of the video. Have a look at the transcription and we’ll focus on the swear words afterwards:

    Hola, mi nombre es Rocío Linares, para los que no me conocen. Hoy a la mañana me levanté y encontré esto:

    Buen día, hermosa:
    Para cuando leas esta carta, ya no voy a estar aquí. Sabemos que los últimos días no fueron lo mejor de nuestra relación. Después de lo que pasó el otro día en la quinta llegué a la conclusión que no quiero ser como todos los demás. Aunque sé que faltan 2 meses para el gran evento, le pido disculpas a tu viejo. Sé que está todo pago, pero bueh… Necesito tomarme unos días/semanas. Si realmente creés en el amor que hay entre nosotros, te pido, por favor, que respetes este tiempo. Esta decisión es por el bien de los dos. No me llames, no voy a atender.
    PD: Me dejé unas cosas. ¿Me las guardás? Va a pasar a buscarlas Fito. Te amo, cucaracha.

    ¡Hijo de puta!
    Esto no es una carta, Matías. Esto es una servilleta de papel.
    ¿De qué quinta me estás hablando? Yo no fui a ninguna quinta, Matías. ¿Qué quinta? No te entiendo.
    Vos, para mí, sos exactamente igual al resto de los hombres que conozco. Unos cagones, hijos de puta, abandónicos. Usan, usan y tiran. Eso es lo peor, Matías Galetto.
    El gran evento, te voy avisando una cosa, Mati, es nuestro casamiento.
    Pero bueh, o sea, yo levanto el teléfono, pero bueh, y le digo a la gente, se canceló el casamiento, pero bueh, ahora me meto todo el casamiento en el culo, pero bueh.
    ¿De qué amor me estás hablando, Matías, si lo único que hay es abandono acá? Vos me estás dejando con una servilleta, Matías.
    Matu, Matías Galetto, con doble T de trava hijo de puta, garca de mierda, chanta, mentiroso, forro. Me estás usando con esto. ¿Cómo me vas a dejar una servilleta? Hijo de puta, ¿qué te pasa? ¿No te sube oxígeno a la poronga? ¿No podés pensar? ¿Qué tenés, mierda, en la cabeza? Hijo de re mil puta. Matías, tenés un día para explicarme qué mierda es esta servilleta que me dejaste. Ya, como quieras. Mandame un mensaje, señales de humo, una paloma mensajera, lo que se te cante el ojete, pero me explicás qué es esto. Y al final mi viejo tenía razón: sos un pelotudo.


The first one is easy: “hijo de puta” means simply “son of a bitch”. This is of course a very common insult. The girl in the video also uses a more emphatic version near the end, though. She says “hijo de re mil puta“. We have already talked about the use of “re” as an intensifier, and now you can see that we can also add “mil” (“thousand”) in some cases too. So this wouldn’t be just any son of a bitch, but the worst son of the worst bitch ever.

Cagones” means “cowards”. The word “cagón“/”cagona” comes from the verb “cagar” (“to shit”), so here we’re literally saying “someone who shits (their pants as a result of being scared)”.

Garca de mierda” brings up a new word, “garca“, which in fact isn’t that new. It comes right from the verb “cagar”, but you just swap the syllables. Changing the order of the syllables is a common thing in lunfardo, the typical slang of español rioplatense. Anyway, “cagar a alguien” (“to shit on someone”) means to screw them over, to do something bad to them. So that’s what someone described as “garca” does. In this case, Matías is clearly being a “garca” towards Rocío.

Trava” is a word usually used in a pejorative way to describe a man who dresses as a woman.

Then, Rocío says “chanta, mentiroso, forro“. These three words are somewhat related. In fact, a “chanta” in the River Plate area is someone who lies all the time, i.e. un mentiroso. And someone referred to as “forro” is simply an “asshole” or a “jerk”. The word “forro” actually means “protective cover” in a general sense and, more specifically, “condom”.

No te sube oxígeno a la poronga” would be something like “your poronga is not getting any oxygen” (“poronga” being slang for “penis”). This would be another version of the less vulgar expression “no te sube oxígeno a la cabeza“, meaning you can’t think/you can’t use your brain.

Lo que se te cante el ojete” means “whatever you feel like doing”, but in a more vulgar way. The word “ojete” means “ass”, so this is basically “what your ass decides (sings) to do”.

And finally, “sos un pelotudo“. But you already know that one.

The only thing left to say is that (fortunately?) this video isn’t real. It’s just the first video of a YouTube series, so they are just acting. You can go and check out how the story continues. Just be careful. You are likely to get bombarded with plenty of Rioplatense slang! 🙂