7 Mexican Words with No Translations – MOTW4
This episode is all about words you might come across in Mexico that have no translations into English. The language spoken in Mexico is Spanish, NOT Mexican. As a translator, it’s my job to find a way around these linguistic obstacles, but language is often so tightly connected to culture that you often end up having to explain the culture in order to translate the word.
The idea for this episode came from a couple of sources. One was a conversation I had with my business partner, Ian Gardner, who one day asked me out of the blue if there were any ideas from Spanish I couldn’t express in English. I think the two I suggested were “tocayo” and “estrenar”. The other source was a video from BuzzFeed on typical Mexican complaints, of which “patatús” is a good example.
Someone who happens to have the same name as you. Tocaitl in Nahuatl, meaning “the other me”.
Common to any Spanish-speaking country. Can mean “to debut” or “to premiere”, but is most often used to talk about using or wearing something new for the first time.
The brother or sister of one’s brother-in-law or sister-in-law or the spouse of one’s brother-in-law or sister-in-law. To describe men: a wife’s brother-in-law or a sister-in-law’s husband. To describe women: a brother-in-law’s wife or a husband’s sister-in-law.
To either have a fit or to faint from shock.
Petition for constitutional relief against legislative and executive acts or court decisions.
Someone from Mexico City. Xilaan in Maya, meaning someone with tousled hair and used to describe someone from the interior.
To be under the weather or down in the dumps.
- Chilanga Banda – a song from Café Tacuba filled with words used by Chilangos.
- Diccionario de Mejicanismos – for those hardcore fans of Mexican words, this amazing dictionary by Francisco J. Santamaria gives you their translations into Castilian Spanish.
- Arrival – a film about how language can change who we are. It’s based on a tale by Ted Chiang called “Story of Your Life”, which is available in his short story collection, “Stories of Your Life and Others”.
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