Monday, 9 March 2009

Learn to swear like a local in Argentina

You're never truly down with the local lingo, unless you pick up the slang. This is probably never truer than in Argentina, where they speak Spanish like no other. I'm considering buying this Argentine phrase book, Che Boludo, just so I can try to fit in.

The title, "Che boludo", is the most Argentine of phrases. If you can say it naturally, and don't sound like a try-hard tourist, it's the ultimate linguistic success.

Literally, it's a hard one to translate. "Che" is used to mean "mate" or simply "oi!". Boludo, meanwhile, means "big balls". Together, I've heard the phrase translated as "oi, big balls", or "mate, you're a big-balled fool". But generally it's used as a very informal way of catching someone's attention and, although not one for polite company, it's not considered offensive.

As soon as you become aware of this phrase, you hear "boludo" everywhere you go.

It was while on my quest to learn more Argentine slang words that I came across an interesting podcast teaching Spanish swearwords. Sorry to lower the tone, but it did make me laugh aloud - less for the words themselves, more for the American guy's translations.
Even if you don't speak Spanish, it's worth a listen. Note how the Spanish speakers remain "tranquilo", while the American translator starts off calmly and then gets a little too into it. Is he a frustrated actor or just plain angry? You'll soon see what I mean.

To hear it, click on the audio player on this page of LearningSpanishBlog, under subheading of "Learning Spanish like crazy".

After that, if you want to practice what you've learned, there's no better place than an Argentinean football match. The above video contains no swearing, but the Argentine commentator will give you a taste of the local enthusiasm. It's an old YouTube classic, where Juan Manuel Pons of Fox Sports is so moved by a goal from Thierry Henry he sings a rather spectacular song.

Bambino Pons, as he's nicknamed, is famous for his singalong commentaries, which often include background music. Here's an internet "best of", where highlights include singing Dennis Bergkamp to the tune of We Will Rock You. Note the slang in the YouTube viewers' comments: "Es una boludez que me mata de risa!!" - "It's boludo (here meaning 'silliness') that makes me die laughing."