When learning to speak Latin , you not only want to be able to say “hola” and “por favor”, but in what is a curious phenomenon, one of the fastest things we learn in another language are its swear words. Maybe it’s because a curse has such a forceful meaning and application in a sentence that it’s not as easy to banish from your memory as something more quotidian. Taking Spanish as an example, just compare joder (to fuck) and pescar (to fish), which one do you think you’ll actually remember? But quite aside from the giggles you might get from this, our facility for naughty words in other languages serves a rather more practical purpose. After all, is there a quicker way to someone’s heart than to talk dirty in a language they understand?
Swearing is much more prevalent in Spain than in Latin America, where Catholicism and conservatism ensure that a sort of genteel prudishness prevails. So try not to be too out there with your curse words, especially around old tias at church. But if you’re on a night out and you want to impress, be sure to pepper your banter with some choice regional profanities and you never know, you may be downing free cervezas in no time. Or at the very least, you’d be giving anyone who wants to play Let’s Pick on the Gringo some serious second thoughts.
Here We Go!
Warning of explicit content below! (Just in case you haven’t yet figured out that there are some very offensive words and expressions in this artcle).
So where do we get started? Mexico, apparently. Mexicans love adding a touch of vulgarity to everyday conversation and we thought we’d give you a few useful phrases to give back as good as you get just south of the border.
Chinga tu madre: “Go fuck your mother.” Yup, we’re jumping right into the deep end.
Coger: Literally, to take. But in Mexico, to fuck.
No mames: Don’t suck, or colloquially, “stop fucking around.”
Un putero: “A fucking lot of”. “Tengo un putero de problemas” translates to “I have a fucking lot of problems.” It’s how Jay-Z might have phrased it, had he been Latin American.
Madrear: Sounds like to mother, what it really means is to beat the ever living shit out of.
Vale madre/vale verga: Worth a mother or worth a dick. Usually used to denote that something ain’t worth a damn.
Of course, people do let their hair down in other parts of Latin America as well. Here are some widely-used phrases that should hold you in good stead throughout the region.
Puta/puto: Very common. Means whore, for both genders.
Coño: The C word. But if it’s any reassurance, it sounds much milder and is much more commonly thrown around in Spanish. If you’d like a parallel, it sounds a lot more like “Damn!” to Latin American ears.
Huevo: You’ll see this on breakfast menus everywhere, as it’s only the Spanish word for the innocuous egg. But we’re sure you can make a connection between this humble culinary staple and something rather less appetizing on the human body. Yup, would you like a side of testicles with your frijoles?
Piruja: An even more vulgar iteration of puta. Tread with caution.
Cagar: To shit
Cabron: A multipurpose word that covers a wide range of insults. Jerk, wanker, bastard, son of a bitch, you name it. Just add an A to the end to deliver the same verbal smackdown to the next woman who pisses you off.
Your Turn Now
Now that you have the basics, it’s time to get creative and use them to devastating effect in a sentence or a phrase.
Come mierda y muere!: “Eat shit and die!” Pretty self-explanatory
Cara de culo: Face of an ass. Ouch.
Cago en la leche de tu puta madre: “I shit in your whore mother’s milk.” A mouthful guaranteed to hit where it hurts.
Mira que cabron!: “Don’t be a dumbass!”
Me cago en lo se menea!: “I shit on all that moves!” When you’re in a damning sort of mood.
Latin America is so much more than sombreros, piñatas and other such clichéd archetypes.
Learning how to swear like the locals will give you an invaluable in to a culture that so many gringos dismiss at face value. You’ll also understand from the list that we’ve compiled for you, you can learn a few things about what’s important in the hearts and minds of people in this part of the world.
One of the worst things you can be in this conservative culture is unchaste and one of the worst people to insult is someone else’s mother. Moral of the story? Keep a seemly profile when you’re out in public and always respect that family will be everything to anyone you meet. Who knew slurs that would make your abuela (that’s grandma) turn in her grave would be so educational?
Now Do Something To Help Yourself
Swearing or not, learning Spanish will enrich your life as the locals in Latin American countries will, assuming you’re not deliberately insulting them, open their lives to you and, more importantly, become lifelong friends.
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