In every country you will find a wide range of idioms and expressions that are used in everyday situations. Here is a list compiled of the ones you should know while you are in Argentina but watch out, make sure to know how to use them and with who because sometimes they can be offensive. These idioms and expressions, along with lunfardo, will keep your knowledge up to date while you blend in with the locals.
- no le llega agua al tanque
- when someone isn’t thinking straight or is missing the point.
- a las chapas
- to go really fast
- arrastrar el ala
- to hit on someone or advance with romantic intentions
- lo atamos con alambre
- to jerry-rig it
- bajá un cambio
- To relax or chill out
- cara rota
- a shameless person
- caer como peludo de regalo
- a way to say an unwanted guest who shows up unexpectedly
- calavera no chilla
- you get what you deserve
- calienta la pava pero no ceba los mates
- Someone that messes with you or teases you
- faltan cinco pa’l peso
- to come up short
- echar panza
- to let go of yourself, to be lazy and gain weight
- comerse un huesito
- to sleep with a hot babe or when you make out with someone
- echar un polvo
- to have sex
- no dejar titere con cabeza
- to take no prisoners, when someone destroys everything and takes it without leaving anything behind.
- estar en el horno
- to be in a bad situation
- dejate de joder
- get out of town! You gotta be joking! Stop messing around
- echar un cloro
- take a piss
- más loco que una cabra
- Something very crazy
- le faltan algunos jugadores
- Someone who isn’t there or when one he is out of his mind. A stupid person
- medio pelo
- hacer gancho
- to play matchmaker, to be cupid
- meter la mula
- to rip someone off
- hablar hasta por los codos
- to talk a lot without stopping
- la verdad de la milanesa
- the real deal
- hacerse la mosquita muerta
- to act innocently after doing something wrong
- hasta las manos
- to be busy, have your hands full
- ni a ganchos
- no way
- ni a palos!
- no way
- mala leche
- bad luck; also when someone has bad vibes
- no dá
- sorry, unacceptable, doesn’t give
- la noche está en pañales
- the night is young
- ponerse la camiseta
- to be a team player
- parte la tierra
- wow what a beautiful woman!
- me pica el bagre
- I’m hungry
- qué pito toca?
- What is his story? Whats up with him?
- me quema la cabeza
- it blows my mind
- tirame las agujas
- give me the time
- la sacaste barata
- you were lucky
- tener una vena
- to be super pissed off
- saltar la ficha
- to blow a fuse
- screw you, take it!
- tomalo con soda
- calm down, take it easy
- tirar los galgos
- to flirt or hit on someone
- Esta mas bueno que comer pollo con las manos
- Something really good
- mas aburrido que chupar un clavo
- To be extremely bored, so bored that you would suck on a nail.
- mas feo que tropezar descalzo
- Something that is really ugly “Worse than stepping on something without shoes”
- más feo que patada en los huevos
- more ugly than getting hit in the balls
- perdido como turco en la neblina
- When you are super lost and don’t know the way
- desubicado como aceituna en Pan Dulce
- Something out of place “Like putting tunafish on sweet bread”
- desubicado como chorizo en ensalada
- Something said or done that is out of place/rude
- mas buena que Lassie atada
- When someone is courteous or nice
- más pobre que ratón de Iglesia
- Someone who is very poor. “more poor than a church rat”
- más contento que perro con dos colas
- Someone who is very happy. “happier than a dog with two tails”
- más peligroso que mono con navaja
- Something who is very dangerous. “More dangerous than a uncontrollable monkey with a pocketknife.”
- ordinario como canapes de polenta
- Something ordinary
- más al pedo que bocina de avión
- Something very useless
- más duro que perro en bote
- Someone who is very scared
- menos onda que un renglón
- someone or something boring
- mas feo que pisar mierda descalzo
- When something is very ugly or undesired, Ojo!, this is offensive
- mas duro que gato de yeso
- Someone who is scared
- el muerto se rie del degollado
- When one criticizes another person when he/she has the same defects
- Más aburrido que choque de tortugas
- When something is very boring. More boring than a turtle crash
- más falso que billete de tres pesos
- When someone or something is fake or stupid
- más fuerte que trompada de oso
- Strong . “Stronger than a punch of a bear”
- mas inutil que cenicero de moto
- Doesn’t serve any purpose
- pesado como sopa de chancho
- Someone or something that is overbearing
- mas solo que Indio malo
- To be alone without friends
- peor que casarse y vivir con la suegra
- When something is difficult or complicated
- raro como perro verde
- When something is strange
- raro como politico honesto
- A situation or person that you have little confidence in. Seems too good to be true but you give it a chance.
- mas pesado que collar de sandias
- A thick minded person, over bearing or has no manners
- mas nervioso que pescado en Semana Santa
- When you are very nervous for something.
- fuerte como aliento de perro
- Something strong “Like the breath of a dog”
- menos onda que bandera de chapa
- When someone or something isn’t fun, cool or is boring.
- mas solo que Adan en el dia del amigo
- To be alone without friends
- mas cerca del arpa que de la guitarra
- When you are about to die or in a critical situación
- Menos estado que Palestina
- when someone has is not phisical capable of performing something.
- Hacerse la rata
- skipping school.
- Estoy seco
- I have no money.
- No te hagas el vivo
- don’t be a smart ass
- Seguirla remando
- Keep trying.
- Es un bagayo
- She is really ugly.Ojo!, this is offensive
- Pegar un tubazo
- To make a phone call.
If you live in BA and are not lucky enough to have a pool at your apartment, it’s time to make friends with someone who does. The heat is edging into the upper thirties and it’s not getting cooler any time soon. You are not even safe if you have air conditioning due to the all-to-frequent cortes de luz. How do you stay cool when the heat is insoportable? Have a tereré.
Tereré is traditional mate infused with cold water or fruit juices instead of hot water. Originally from Paraguay, the drinking of tereré is wonderfully refreshing and a nice alternative to sugary sodas. Just find yourself a termo and fill it with your favorite iced beverage. Try fresh-squeezed lemonade with mint leaves, mango, peach, or pineapple; don’t be afraid to get creative. Even powdered juice mixes are good if you don’t have time to make it fresh. Add lots of ice, fill up your mate with yerba and a couple of ice cubes, put in your bombilla and find some shade. When the power goes out again use it as an opportunity to get to know your neighbors by sharing a tereré with them.
Knowing how to speak two languages is not the same thing as knowing how to translate. Translation is a special skill that professionals work hard to develop. In their book Found in Translation, professional translators Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche give a spirited tour of the world of translation, full of fascinating stories about everything from volunteer text message translators during the Haitian earthquake rescue effort, to the challenges of translation at the Olympics and the World Cup, to the personal friendships celebrities like Yao Ming and Marlee Matlin have with their translators.
The importance of good translation is most obvious when things go wrong. Here are nine examples from the book that show just how high-stakes the job of translation can be.
1. THE SEVENTY-ONE-MILLION-DOLLAR WORD
In 1980, 18-year-old Willie Ramirez was admitted to a Florida hospital in a comatose state. His friends and family tried to describe his condition to the paramedics and doctors who treated him, but they only spoke Spanish. Translation was provided by a bilingual staff member who translated “intoxicado” as “intoxicated.” A professional interpreter would have known that “intoxicado” is closer to “poisoned” and doesn’t carry the same connotations of drug or alcohol use that “intoxicated” does. Ramirez’s family believed he was suffering from food poisoning. He was actually suffering from an intracerebral hemorrhage, but the doctors proceeded as if he were suffering from an intentional drug overdose, which can lead to some of the symptoms he displayed. Because of the delay in treatment, Ramirez was left quadriplegic. He received a malpractice settlement of $71 million.
2. YOUR LUSTS FOR THE FUTURE
When President Carter traveled to Poland in 1977, the State Department hired a Russian interpreter who knew Polish, but was not used to interpreting professionally in that language. Through the interpreter, Carter ended up saying things in Polish like “when I abandoned the United States” (for “when I left the United States”) and “your lusts for the future” (for “your desires for the future”), mistakes that the media in both countries very much enjoyed.
3. WE WILL BURY YOU
At the height of the cold war, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech in which he uttered a phrase that interpreted from Russian as “we will bury you.” It was taken as chilling threat to bury the U.S. with a nuclear attack and escalated the tension between the U.S. and Russia. However, the translation was a bit too literal. The sense of the Russian phrase was more that “we will live to see you buried” or “we will outlast you.” Still not exactly friendly, but not quite so threatening.
4. DO NOTHING
In 2009, HSBC bank had to launch a $10 million rebranding campaign to repair the damage done when its catchphrase “Assume Nothing” was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in various countries.
5. MARKETS TUMBLE
A panic in the world’s foreign exchange market led the U.S. dollar to plunge in value after a poor English translation of an article by Guan Xiangdong of the China News Service zoomed around the Internet. The original article was a casual, speculative overview of some financial reports, but the English translation sounded much more authoritative and concrete.
6. WHAT’S THAT ON MOSES’S HEAD?
St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, studied Hebrew so he could translate the Old Testament into Latin from the original, instead of from the third century Greek version that everyone else had used. The resulting Latin version, which became the basis for hundreds of subsequent translations, contained a famous mistake. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai his head has “radiance” or, in Hebrew, “karan.” But Hebrew is written without the vowels, and St. Jerome had read “karan” as “keren,” or “horned.” From this error came centuries of paintings and sculptures of Moses with horns and the odd offensive stereotype of the horned Jew.
7. CHOCOLATES FOR HIM
In the 50s, when chocolate companies began encouraging people to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Japan, a mistranslation from one company gave people the idea that it was customary for women to give chocolate to men on the holiday. And that’s what they do to this day. On February 14, the women of Japan shower their men with chocolate hearts and truffles, and on March 14 the men return the favor. An all around win for the chocolate companies!
8. YOU MUST DEFEAT SHENG LONG
In the Japanese video game Street Fighter II a character says, “if you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!” When this was translated from Japanese into English, the characters for “rising dragon” were interpreted as “Sheng Long.” The same characters can have different readings in Japanese, and the translator, working on a list of phrases and unaware of the context, thought a new person was being introduced to the game. Gamers went crazy trying to figure out who this Sheng Long was and how they could defeat him. In 1992, as an April Fools Day joke, Electronic Gaming Monthly published elaborate and difficult to execute instructions for how to find Sheng Long. It wasn’t revealed as a hoax until that December, after countless hours had no doubt been wasted.
9. TROUBLE AT WAITANGI
In 1840, the British government made a deal with the Maori chiefs in New Zealand. The Maori wanted protection from marauding convicts, sailors, and traders running roughshod through their villages, and the British wanted to expand their colonial holdings. The Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and both sides signed it. But they were signing different documents. In the English version, the Maori were to “cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty.” In the Maori translation, composed by a British missionary, they were not to give up sovereignty, but governance. They thought they were getting a legal system, but keeping their right to rule themselves. That’s not how it turned out, and generations later the issues around the meaning of this treaty are still being worked out.
Source: Itchy Feet
Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy
My sister has a rare talent for mishearing lyrics. When we were younger, song meanings would often morph into something quite different from their original intent. In one Wallflowers hit, for instance, she somehow turned “me and Cinderella” into “the incinerator.” My favorite, though, remains that classic of the swing age, “Drunk driving, then you wake up”—a garbling of the Louis Prima hit that saw a brief resurgence in the nineties, “Jump, Jive, an’ Wail.”
My sister’s creation of a night of drunk driving from jumping and jiving is actually a common phenomenon, with the curious name mondegreen. “Mondegreen” means a misheard word or phrase that makes sense in your head, but is, in fact, entirely incorrect. The term mondegreen is itself a mondegreen. In November, 1954, Sylvia Wright, an American writer, published a piece in Harper’s where she admitted to a gross childhood mishearing. When she was young, her mother would read to her from the “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,” a 1765 book of popular poems and ballads. Her favorite verse began with the lines, “Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands / Oh, where hae ye been? / They hae slain the Earl Amurray, / And Lady Mondegreen.” Except they hadn’t. They left the poor Earl and “laid him on the green.” He was, alas, all by himself.
Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain. And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and imbues it with significance. That was a car alarm. That’s a bird. Mondegreens occur when, somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the same way. What’s less immediately clear is why, precisely, that happens.
The simplest cases occur when we just mishear something: it’s noisy, and we lack the visual cues to help us out (this can happen on the phone, on the radio, across cubicles—basically anytime we can’t see the mouth of the speaker). One of the reasons we often mishear song lyrics is that there’s a lot of noise to get through, and we usually can’t see the musicians’ faces. Other times, the misperceptions come from the nature of the speech itself, for example when someone speaks in an unfamiliar accent or when the usual structure of stresses and inflections changes, as it does in a poem or a song. What should be clear becomes ambiguous, and our brain must do its best to resolve the ambiguity.
Human speech occurs without breaks: when one word ends and another begins, we don’t actually pause to signal the transition. When you listen to a recording of a language that you don’t speak, you hear a continuous stream of sounds that is more a warbling than a string of discernable words. We only learn when one word stops and the next one starts over time, by virtue of certain verbal cues—for instance, different languages have different general principles of inflection (the rise and fall of a voice within a word or a sentence) and syllabification (the stress patterns of syllables)—combined with actual semantic knowledge. Very young children can make mistakes that shed light on how the process actually develops. In “The Language Instinct,” Steven Pinker points out a few near-misses: “I am heyv!” as a response to “Behave!”; “I don’t want to go to your ami” in reply to going to Miami. People immersed in an environment with a new language often initially experience the same thing: a lack of clear ability to tell what words, exactly, should properly emerge from the sounds that are being spoken. Most likely, my sister’s unconventional talent stems partly from the fact that English is not our first language. For us, on a basic level, word processing will always be just a bit different from that of native English speakers.
A common cause of mondegreens, in particular, is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise. The string of phonetic sounds can be plausibly broken up in multiple ways—and if you’re not familiar with the requisite proper noun, you may find yourself making an error. In similar fashion, Bohemian Rhapsody becomes Bohemian Rap City. Children might wonder why Olive, the other reindeer, was so mean to Rudolph. And a foreigner might become confused as to why, in this country, we entrust weather reports to meaty urologists or why so many people are black-toast intolerant. Oronyms result in not so much a mangling as an incorrect parsing of sounds when context or prior knowledge is lacking.
Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In their absence, one sound can be mistaken for the other. For instance, in a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. “There’s a bathroom on the right” standing in for “there’s a bad moon on the rise” is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives. (Peter Kay offers an auditory tour of some other misleading gems.)
What usually prevents us from being tripped up by phonetics is the context and our own knowledge. When we hear a word or phrase, our brain’s first cue is the actual sounds, in the order in which they are produced. According to the cohort model—one of the leading theories of auditory word processing—when we hear sounds, a number of related words are activated all at once in our heads, words that either sound the same or have component parts that are the same. Our brain then chooses the one that makes the most sense. For instance, if I’m talking about the role of the syllable in language comprehension, you’re also, on some level, thinking about a silly-looking ball rolling away. You’re also considering the smaller snippets that form each word’s makeup: roe, along with roll; sill, along with silly and syllable. Only after I say the whole phrase do you understand what I’m saying. Songs and poems, in some sense, lie between conversational speech and a foreign language: we hear the sounds but don’t have the normal contextual cues. It’s not as if we were mid-conversation, where the parameters have already been set.
Along with knowledge, we’re governed by familiarity: we are more likely to select a word or phrase that we’re familiar with, a phenomenon known as Zipf’s law, according to which the actual frequency of a word can affect how seamlessly it’s processed. If you’re a member of the crew team, you’re far more likely to select “row” instead of “roe” from an ambiguous sentence. If you’re a chef, the opposite is likely. One of the reasons that “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” substituted for Jimi Hendrix’s “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” remains one of the most widely reported mondegreens of all time can be explained in part by frequency. It’s much more common to hear of people kissing guys than skies. Expectations, too, play a role. You’re much more likely to mishear “Cry Me a River” as “Crimean River” if you’ve recently been discussing the situation in Ukraine.
Mondegreens are funny, of course, but they also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing and how our minds make meaning out of sound. In fractions of seconds, we translate a boundless blur of sound into sense. It comes naturally, easily, effortlessly. We sift through sounds, activate and reject countless alternatives, and select one single meaning out of myriad homonyms, near-matches, and possible parsings—even though speakers may have different accents, pronunciations, intonations, or inflections. And, in the overwhelming majority of instances, we get it right. To gain a better appreciation of how complex that constant instantaneous interpretive dance is, consider the problems of speech-recognition software, which, despite recent improvements, still usually generate a mix and muddle of whatever a user was trying to say.
Our brains are exceptional creators of logical meaning—even when it’s not quite the intended one. Some mondegreens are so plausible that they can become the real thing. “Spitting image” was once a mondegreen, a mishearing and improper syllabic split of “spit and image.” (Spit is another term for likeness.) When you eat an orange, you’re actually consuming “a naranj” (from Persian and Sanskrit). Your nickname is, historically speaking “an ekename,” or an additional name. Who knows. Maybe someday, when you do something for all-intensive purposes, no one will blink an eye. And, maybe in the future, some avant-garde poet will finally pen a verse to that most lovely of women, Lady Mondegreen.
Source: The New Yorker
Verbing weird language.
One of the most inventive aspects of invention-friendly English is verbing, the denominalization of nouns into verbs.
It’s nothing new — verbs have been created from noun forms throughout the life span of Modern English and perhaps even before it evolved from Middle English; what’s been different during our lifetime, perhaps, is the rate at which it occurs.
Denominalizations most of us have grown accustomed to because they’ve been around a while include pencil (“I’ll pencil you in for tomorrow at nine o’clock”), trend (“Stocks continue to trend downward”), and impact (“That’s going to significantly impact our plan”). If those usages aren’t annoying enough, you can make people cringe by using dialogue (“We’ll dialogue about this later”).
Brand names even get denominalized, as was the case with Xerox and, more recently, Google. But verbing isn’t confined to the office. At home, mothers and fathers parent, and people host guests. Active folks ski and skate, while those out on the town get seated, sometimes only after they’re carded.
The primary cause of the recent proliferation of verbing is technology: Before the average person had access to personal computers, programmers were accessing data online. When the Internet went mainstream, we began to bookmark our bookmarks. As many people began to favor text messaging, texting stood alongside phoning or calling. (By extension, overt flirting and text-based phone sex was dubbed sexting.) Social networking gave us the verb form “to friend” (and, inevitably, “to defriend”), as well as a new sense of “to like,” where liking is a deliberate action rather than simply a feeling.
Denominalization is controversial and prompts much antipathy. But why? Some of the most basic words in English — dress, dream, sleep, strike, talk — are verbs identical in form to their parent nouns.
The answer: English encourages neologisms, but many of its users are (often rightfully) averse to upstart words. Many of the denominalizations we take for granted may have struck listeners and readers as awkward and annoying when they first experienced them, but although many others no doubt fell by the wayside for that very reason, numerous ones have long since been granted status as standard English.
There’s only so much you can do to champion denominalization or to choke it, but in the end, it’s a democratic process: If a neologism appeals to you, promote it by using it. If it appalls you, demote it by eschewing it. Not every grating verbification will last, and if one that particularly annoys you goes extinct, you can take partial credit because it has always been absent from your writing.
As with other local Spanish languages, Argentine Spanish includes some deviations from typical Spanish grammar. These rules will help you begin to better understand Argentinians.
In Argentina, the tu form of verbs is not used. Instead, vos is the term that is used to mean “you”. For instance, instead of the typical Spanish phrase Tú tienes que comprar el pan in Argentina the phrase would be Vos tenés que comprar el pan.
Verb conjugations for Tú and Vos
Conjugating verbs using the vos form is actually easy. Regular verbs adhere to the following scheme:
Take a look at this more detailed explanation of the usage of Vos if you would like to understand it better.
Irregular verbs can be a bit different, but since each one is unique you will have to learn them on the fly. A couple of irregular verbs are decir and venir.
2. Acordarse / recordar:
The word acordarse is commonly used instead of the grammatically correct word recordar. An example is the sentence Me acuerdo que hablamos de eso la semana pasada. The correct version would be Recuerdo que hablamos de eso la semana pasada.
The prefix re- for any word demonstrates “extra” of whatever is said. For example, re-canchero would mean extremely cool, nifty or neat. The sentence Martín se vistió re-canchero para salir con María would mean that Martín dressed extremely snazzy (or cool) to go out with María.