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Mexican Spanish has Many Nuances.

Updated on January 24, 2012

It's a brave or foolish man who uses this curse in Mexico

credit cartoon lost fm and speed wheels.
credit cartoon lost fm and speed wheels.

Don't joust with language in Mexico

This contributor lived for some years in Mexico and Spain. Therefore I can communicate in Spanish. I want a beer, a meal a woman, I know the right words…I can even write a letter in the lingo (lingo - lengua, language).

But am I bilingual? Not on you Nelly, as my Cockney friends might say. No one becomes bilingual in Mexico - or anywhere - unless they move to the new land at a very young age. I began to speak Spanish when I was about 35 and only became proficient from my fifties on working as a journalist and columnist in Mexico.

Some have more ability than others to learn a foreign language…I suppose I was about average. You don’t really become proficient until you enjoy speaking in another tongue than the one you were born with. Some say you need to find yourself dreaming in the language. That hasn’t happened to me but I do find myself eating a lot of tacos in my dreams!

Take the word “chingar,” for example. On the surface of it the meaning is “f--k, or “to rape“” (I am sick of having hypocritical Mother Google refuse ads on my stories while they run all sorts of pornography as it suits them so I abbreviate the magic word, etc., these days).

Yet chingar has so many other uses and connotations in Mexican Spanish, far more than in English and more than in Spain.

The word “chingar” is a mainstay among the Mexican blue- collar class and, in one form or another, may form about a third of the conversation. It’s original usage is mired in the Colonial times when the Spanish Conquerors often raped Indian women; their men folk forced to stand and watch covered by hostile muskets. (No wonder many emerging nations hate cruel Europe).

The raped women became the “chingada.” In Mexico, it is common to alter the Spanish curse, “Hijo de puta,” (son of a whore) to “Hijo de la chingada,” (son of a raped woman). Much of machismo also stems from these days where men were forced to witness their wives forced by soldiers to submit, yet were unable to act. Machismo today has many males acting violently towards spouses thought to be sexually unfaithful. To allows this to go on dubs the male a coward.

The worst insult a male can deliver to another in Mexico is “chinga tu madre,” “Rape your mother.”

“Vete a la chingada” means “go to hell.”

A “chingadazo” is a heavy blow or punch.

“No me chingues” means “Don’t annoy me.”

If someone gets one up on him, a Mexican may say, “Me chingaron.”

To call someone a “Chingon,” is actually to praise them…because they have been clever enough to “chingar” others. Less used, an irritating person may be called a chingaquedito.”

The most common usage is the shortened version “ching…” with a long pause after it while the deliverer sorts out whatever has inspired the swear word.

Also to do with the machos propensity to treat the female as a lesser being is that everything bad is called “madre,” (mother).

“Nuestra Madre,” of course, or “Our Mother” is the Virgin Mary.

Yet “me vale madre” means I could care less.

“Desmadre” indicates a situation of chaos.

“Una Madre” is something not to be considered.

“…tu madre” is just “chinga tu madre abbreviated.

A “madrazo” is a heavy blow.

A “Madreador” is hired muscle.

To have “poco madre” is to be without shame.

These are several more, yet the “Padre” or father, receives much less linguistic attention.

“Muy padre” is something very good but the padre is generally kept out of illusory language.

Mexicans are so adept at the double entendre and verbally jousting with one another is a great pastime in Mexico. The Gringo soon gets lost in the labyrinthine twists and changes of this language, a combination of Spanish, Indian dialects, French and even English. To have the last word is considered de rigueur and it will never be you, you will end up with “huevos“ in your face!

This isn’t much of a hub, just to keep my hand in. I find it hard to sustain interest in writing on hub pages and see many others also dropping out. A workman may be worth his hire, but not here.



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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      All languages have many nuances don't they? People in different regions of the U.S. have differences in their English language. Just little things. Like the difference in England between a woman asking for a lift as opposed to asking for a ride. Here it's the same thing with 'ride' being more common, but I understand they're very different over there.

      Glad all is well there, Bobby. xx

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      This is a great hub, Bob. I had to chuckle because the first time I tried out my Spanish was in Puerto Rico, not realizing that there are many idioms, plus different kinds of Spanish spoken around the world; there is Castilian, and Latin, and then you have local.

      A friend of mine once when to Chile, and had intended to say, “I can’t wait to get on a horse (caballo).” Instead, she said, I can’t wait to get on a gentleman (caballero).” Her host and hostess began to laugh, and told her that men take what women say very seriously in Chile. :-)

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Every time I read one of your Hubs, Bob, I think of Ian Dury and The Blockheads. (Not everyone would do that, I realise. But I do.)

      Mostly, I think of Dury's immortal song, "There Ain't 'arf Been Some Clever Bastards".

      And today, reading this, I did again.

      But the content and sexual under / over tones of this piece also brought to mind one of his other greats, "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick".

      To me, it supports what you so eloquently demonstrate here. If you want to confuse Google into running ads alongside 'questionable' (to them) content, just sophisticated, clever(er) with words.

      Know what you mean about not worth the effort, Bob. But it does keep the mind active. Dunnit?. I for one, hope you keep it up.

      PS: I know you know how to manage on SFA (how's that for 'paraphrasing', lol), but if you feel like some light relief, you might get a smile out of my attempt to pass on some good old-fashioned common sense in a hub about high cost of living..


    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      Wow - the things we never knew! Good article, and well done! Voted up and useful.

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Chicanos are much ruder and less mannerly than pure Mexicicans. Yes, "Buey" means Ox (say it "Way"). Yes, you called them "Goats," luckily you didn't say "Cabrones," also goats but used as "bastards!"

      I speak good Spanish, but have learned the hard way to stay away from cursing and slang. Once you start, you can't stop and they always have the last word on the dumb Gringo.

      Nic to see you, 'Star...Bob

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Tex-mex uses a lot of these same idiomas. Another very popular one is 'buey' which I think means an ox or bull. They tend to call close friends this name along with 'carnal' 'carnalito' or 'cabron'.

      I slip up sometimes and try to use these words too and I get really strange and unusual looks, usually followed by laughter.

      Once I called a group of teens playing soccer a group of 'chivos' when the word I really meant was 'chavos'. What a difference a letter makes!

      Spanish is a fun language is it not? LOL