[#009] Frutas, turros y verduras

In our previous post, we included a comic strip near the end of the entry. But since it’s a fairly well-known comic strip around here, I felt it deserved a better introduction. So that’s what we’ll be doing today!

The name of that comic strip is Gaturro and it was created by Nik (Cristian Dzwonik). Gaturro is also the name of the main character: the cat. This name comes from the Spanish words “gato” (“cat”) and “turro“, which in this case means something like “mischievous” or “roguish”.

In fact, the word “turro/a” comes from lunfardo, a special kind of slang quite common in the River Plate area. We will probably talk more about lunfardo in a different entry, but let’s just say for now that the word “turro” originally means “a dishonest person”, someone who gets what they want even if that requires cheating others. A kind of trickster. But it also has a lighter or more innocent meaning (like the one mentioned in the previous paragraph) and therefore it can be used in a more playful manner, as in the name of this cartoon character.

Today, I’ll share with you another strip of Gaturro to learn a couple of rioplatense expressions. Here it is:

Gaturro frutas y verduras

So here we have Gaturro, playing with food and using it as a costume or disguise: the Carrot Vampire, Mr. Cucumber, etc.

But then Ágatha comes in saying she is Queen Strawberry and Gaturro doesn’t seem to like that. He uses two similar informal expressions: “mandar fruta” and “cualquier verdura“. These are two idiomatic expressions that can be applied to any situation, so even though Gaturro is covered in food, he isn’t really talking about fruit or vegetables. Or is he? That’s actually the joke, having both the literal and figurative interpretation at the same time.

  • But what do these expressions mean anyway?

The first expression, “mandar fruta” (or “to send fruit”, literally), means to say something that is not actually true, or to talk about something one does not really know much about. Some entries ago, we saw the verb “boludear“, which had two meanings. Do you remember them? One of them was actually very similar to “mandar fruta“. Here you have some other similar ways of expressing what Gaturro is saying.

    No me mandés fruta.
    No me boludees.
    No me mientas.
    No me digas cualquier cosa.
    No seas turra.

A typical example where you can use or hear this expression is after sitting for an exam. Suppose you are talking with a friend about how the exam went and you say the following:

    I hadn’t studied much for the exam and I didn’t know what to write, so in the end… mandé fruta.

This means you wrote anything you could think of, even if you didn’t have a clue, in order to try and get a pass in your exam.

The second expression, “cualquier verdura” (or “any vegetables”, literally), means simply “anything”. So, following the example of the exam, you could tell your friend:

    “I hadn’t studied much for the exam and I didn’t know what to write, so in the end… escribí cualquier verdura“.

Going back to Gaturro now, he could have just said “venía divirtiéndome con cualquier cosa” (“I was having fun with anything/whatever”). But the point here was clearly to play with the words “fruta” and “verdura“, while using these two expressions together. Besides, they also make sense from a literal point of view, as Gaturro was only talking about vegetables until Ágatha came in and mentioned a fruit.

By the way, I hope you noticed Gaturro’s use of tacit “vos” instead of ““, when he says “mandés“, instead of “mandes“.

Alright, that’s all for today! And now that we are at it anyway, don’t forget to eat your fruit and vegetables. 😉

¡Hasta la próxima!

[#008] Requetecontra

Today we’ll focus on a very short word. It has only two letters, but it has a very powerful effect. Without further ado, let me introduce you to our guest today:


Re

Re” is a very commonly used word in Rioplatense Spanish, especially among teenagers and young adults. Some people may say it’s not actually a word on its own, but only a prefix that can be added to other words. We are not going to go into that debate here, and we’ll just treat it as a separate word.

Re” means simply “very” or “really”. It’s basically used in informal contexts as an intensifier. Here are some examples:

    Tu amigo es re gracioso.
    Your friend is very funny.

    Esa peli es re interesante.
    That movie is really interesting.

    El libro que me regalaste está re bueno.
    The book that you gave me is very good.

    Es re común usar “re” acá.
    It’s very common to use “re” here.

At first glance, the structure looks very simple: re + adjective. But that’s not all. The word “re” can also be used to modify adverbs and even some prepositional phrases.

    Vino re re rápido.
    He came really really fast.

    Lo reparó re fácilmente.
    He fixed it very easily.

    Viajo re seguido.
    I travel very often.

    Vino re de lejos.
    He came from really far away.

    Está re de moda.
    It’s really fashionable.

    Estamos re a favor.
    We are totally in favour.

Oh, well. I guess things can always get a bit more complicated, right? Because that’s not all either. It’s also possible to use the word “re” with verbs and nouns.

    Me re gusta esta canción.
    I really like this song.

    Te re esperé, boludo, y nunca apareciste.
    I waited for you a lot, dude, and you never showed up.

    Está re lloviendo.
    It’s raining heavily.

    Ayer dormí una re siesta.
    Yesterday I took a very long nap.

    Tengo unas re ganas de tomar un helado.
    I really want to have an ice-cream.

    Conseguí un re trabajo, por suerte.
    I got a really good job, luckily.

As you can see, in the previous examples the word “re” still works as an intensifier, but in some cases it can also convey some other meaning that we can recover from the context; not just “very”. When we say “una re siesta“, we are probably talking specifically about its length. Or if we say “une re crisis“, we are most likely referring to how bad it was. We can then say the following:

    Una re siesta = una siesta muy larga
    A very long nap

    Una re crisis = una crisis muy profunda
    A very deep crisis

    Un re accidente = un accidente muy trágico
    A very tragic accident

    Un re sueldo = un sueldo muy alto
    A very high salary

Of course we can also say all these sentences in other ways, without using “re“. Naturally, we can also use words such as “muy“, “mucho“, “realmente“, “un montón“, etc., which can all be considered intensifiers. But “re” is definitely heard in informal contexts quite frequently, especially among young people.

Personally, I suggest being careful with the use of “re“. As you can see, it can be used in lots of different situations and structures, but that doesn’t mean that it can be used all the time. In some cases, the structure may look fine, but the meaning conveyed might not make the sentence acceptable, such as “re mañana” (“very tomorrow” [?]), “un satélite re natural” (“a very natural satellite [?]), or “tomó re té” (“he drank very tea” [?]). Explaining the reasons why these specific examples may sound weird (while the previous ones do not) would require getting more technical, which is not the aim of this blog. So we’ll just recommend using “re” in those cases where you’ve heard it or read it before, so you can be sure it’ll sound fine.

And to finish this post, I’ll share with you a comic strip where the author seems to be making fun of the way teenagers speak in the River Plate area (overusing “re“), their apparently contradictory nature and how difficult it seems to be to understand them.


Gaturro Gateen

  • But hey, why is this entry called “Requetecontra“?

Oh, well, that’s just because we Argentines can always… “overexaggerate” things. So we don’t only say “re lindo” for “very nice”, but also “requete lindo” or “recontra lindo“… Or even “requetecontra lindo” (“very very nice”)!

And that’s all, I promise! Hmm… Oh, well, who am I cheating? We could even say something like “requetecontrísimamente lindo” (“really really really nice”).

As you can see, there’s always room for more! 😉