comedy

17 Latin American Slang Phrases That Will Have You #ROFLing hard!

Language is fluid and constantly changes. Beyond academic rules or what is supposed to be the “right way” to speak and write Spanish (as if…), everyday vernacular is what really defines the paths that language takes. It is not the tired, old and generally white males in the ivory tower of academia that should determine how language evolves, but you and me, people who think outside the box and perpetuate tradition (doesn’t it feel awesome to use that old-fashioned phrase your abuelita loved, even jokingly?).

Latin American Spanish is rich in meaning and creativity. It is the product of processes of colonization that produced hybrids of Castillian Spanish (what the conquistadores spoke) and various indigenous languages. Later, migration processes to the continent brought with them new forms of expression. Argentinian Spanish, for example, is called lunfardo and incorporates words from Italian. Anyway, here’s 17 phrases that make no real sense at first, but are a source of identity and pride.

Latino power, mi gente!

Gringo
Literal translation: Green, go!
What it really means: A (white) man from the United States or a (white) man from Western Europe, Australia or Canada.

Credit: Giphy. @hbopr.


This term is no longer exclusive to describe Americans, but  anyone who looks stereotypically white. The word was coined during the Mexico-US war in the nineteenth century. The US troops wore green uniforms, and so locals would try to get them to go by simply saying: “Green, go!”. So, gringo.  

Cállate los ojos
Literal translation: Shut up your eyes !
What it really means: Oh, really!

Credit: Giphy. @hyperrpg


Used mainly by old ladies (so probably your mamá and tías and abues) when something is hard to believe. As in: “Did you see…? I think Lupe is hiding something from us…”. In unison: “Cállate los ojos”. 

Estoy bien pedo
Literal translation: I am such a fart!
What it really means: I am quite drunk.

Credit: Giphy. @camariggio


This phrase is used mainly in Mexico, where popular phrases often have to do with farting. Being pedo is basically being drunk. A peda is a party where people will likely get wasted. Also, if you wanna just say “How are you doin’?” you can simple say: “Que pedo?”… literally “What fart?”. 

Mala leche
Literal translation: Bad/rotten milk.
What it really means: adjective, describes an ill intention.

Credit: Desperate Housewives. ABC.


When someone is being mean on purpose, you could say that the carnal did such and such in mala leche. Just imagine drinking a carton of bad milk… that is the bitter taste that toxic people leave behind.

READ: 21 Latin American Flags and The Stories Behind Them

Aquí sólo mis chicharrones truenan
Literal translation: Only my pork crackles crack around here.
What it really means: I am the boss (drops mic.).

Credit: Mad Men. AMC.


Mainly used in Mexico, a land that loves chicharrones with lime and tons of salsa. Nothing worse than a soggy pork crackling, so I guess the phrase sort of makes sense…. just sort of. Will there be a vegan version soon? 

 Arrastrar el ala 
Literal translation: Drag your wing.
What it really means: Argentinian for trying to hook up with someone.

Credit: Giphy. @am85

Slang takes mysterious paths and sometimes produces poetic, yet surreal phrases like this one, specially in the land of tango and milonga. Now, if dragging your wing meant being sad because someone is just not into you (cue sad violins) that would make sense, but not this. Cool phrase, though. 

Echar un cloro
Literal translation: Splash some chlorine.
What it really means: To pee.

Credit: Giphy. @PaulLayzell


 Argentinian slang for urinating. Really confusing, as chlorine is what gets rid of that pee smell that can linger like a bad dream!

Dar papaya 
Literal translation: To give someone papaya.
What it really means:  the act of taking an unnecessary risk.

Credit: Giphy. 4GIF.


Colombian for doing stupid things like drink driving or bungee jumping without the right gear. Who knows where the tropical fruit came into play! By the way, papaya is also used to describe female genitalia in some Latin American countries. Really. 

Hacer una vaca /Hacer una vaquita 
Literal translation: To make a cow/To make a little cow.
What it really means: Collecting a pot of cash for a common purpose.

Credit: Giphy.


Say you and your buddies are going to watch a game and need to buy snacks and drinks. Que hueva calculating how much each needs to pitch in exactly, so just get people to put in whatever and make a cow for the common good.

Hablar hasta con los codos
Literal translation: To talk even with your elbows.
What it really means: No one can shut you up.

Credit: Giphy. MakeAGIF.

This phrase is used to describe that person who just talks and talks and talks and talks… Perfect for that person who is a chismoso and just blabbers every time you see him. Not necessarily an insult… more like a subtle burn. 

Esqueleto rumbero
Literal translation: A rumba-dancing skeleton.
What it really means: someone who is super skinny.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.

Cubans love their rumba and their metaphors. If you say that someone is an esqueleto rumbero that means that the person needs to put on a few pounds… like yesterday.

Echarse un taco de ojo 
Literal translation: Eat an eye taco.
What it really means: Looking at someone lasciviously (translation: you are a bit of a creep, dude).

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.

This phrase comes out of Latin America’s everyday macho-talk. This is one of those slang phrases that just needs to go into oblivion. To echarse un taco de ojo means going somewhere to look at beautiful people and basically objectifying them. Stalker, much?

Dar jugo
Literal translation: To give someone juice.
What it really means: To procrastinate… so probably what you are doing right now 🙂

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.


Chilean for wasting your time or postponing the inevitable.  How that can possibly be related to juice is an enigma. 

Liz Taylor
Literal translation: Liz Taylor.
What it really means: Ready!

Credit: A Place in the Sun. Paramount Pictures.


Chilean slang for ready, which is listo in Spanish. Somehow that mutates into listeilor and then Liz Taylor. Go figure. We wonder if the Hollywood diva ever found out about this. 

Al chile 
Literal translation: To the chili pepper.
What it really means: To speak truthfully.

Credit: Giphy. @wizardsmagic


In Mexican slang, penises are often referred to as chiles (chilis). So that might have something to do with this. You would say something like: “Al chile, are you trying to scam me or something?”.

El chivo
Literal translation: The goat.
What it really means: The bicycle.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous.


Cuban Spanish is one of the most complex in Latin America, and often words don’t quite mean what you think they do. If you go to Havana and want to do a bike tour, remember to actually ask for a goat.  

Jamar un cable
Literal translation: To voraciously eat a cable.
What it really means: To struggle financially.

Credit: The Simpsons. FOX.


Another Cuban linguistic gem. How being homeless or out of job relates to eating a cable is not quite clear, but the phrase has a strong, dramatic ring to it. 

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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