Found this last night while Christmas shopping, courtesy of the ladies’ room at Sears in Plaza Las Americas, Cancun.
In yet another one of the fascinating mysteries of Mexican slang, I bring you… the -azo.
This phenomenon is quite possibly my favorite part of learning Mexican Spanish. It’s not something they’ll teach you in school, even though it’s part of everyday language. I think the reason I love the -azo so much is because it’s so incredibly convenient, yet we have nothing like it in English.
Here’s the gist of it: Add the ending -azo onto any tangible noun, and it will translate to something like “a punch/hit/slap with a …”
I’ll give you some examples.
Mi hermano me dio un codazo = “My brother hit me with his elbow.”
Le dio un cabezazo al balón. = “He gave the ball a hit with his head.” (Often used in soccer, it’s the equivalent to the English term for heading the ball.)
My favorite is chancletazo, from the Mexican slang word chancleta, meaning “flip flop”. Jorge uses this one A LOT when killing cockroaches. Le voy a dar un chancletazo! = “I’m going to smash him with my flip-flop.”
A few other examples:
sartenazo = a blow with a frying pan
rodillazo = a hit from the knee
toallazo = a towel snap
puñetazo = a punch (from the word puño, meaning “fist”)
avionazo = an airplane crash
There are other more specific uses for this ending, but I won’t confuse you with the subleties quite yet. 🙂
Bottom Line: Add the -azo ending onto ANY TANGIBLE THING and it will make sense. Anything that could possibly come into physical contact with you. Seriously.
When I moved to Mexico 6 years ago, I had a pretty good grasp on the language after 7 years of Spanish classes. I would soon find out that in Mexico, there were thousands of local words and phrases that I had yet to learn.
One word that perplexes me to this day is ahorita. Most of you have probably heard the Spanish word ahora, meaning “now”. In Spanish, there are also diminutive words ending in -ito, -ita, -itos and -itas (depending on plurality and word gender). When adding these endings onto a word, it implies that something is small. So the word “ahorita” would directly translate to something along the lines of “little now”.
I first learned that ahorita means “right now”. Ahorita lo hago would translate to “I’ll do it right now.” Easy, right? It’s just a matter of quick memorization of one commonly-used phrase!
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
For months, a Mexican might tell me “ahorita lo hago” and I would be confident it was being done right away. Sometimes, however, nothing happened for hours or even days, causing this gringa to get pretty encabronada. Eventually I was told that ahorita actually has two meanings… it can mean “right now”, but it can also mean “in a little while”. WHAT?
Six years later, I’m still bothering Jorge every time he says “ahorita lo hago“. My response is always, “ahorita, ahorita? O ahorita al rato?” (Ahorita right now? Or ahorita later?) Luckily Jorge’s ahorita usually means “within the next half hour”. I guess I still haven’t figured out the subtle nuances of the Mexican people.
I’m not sure how to go about this post because it’s a topic that I still don’t understand after six years in Mexico.
During my time in this fascinating yet incredibly frustrating country, I’ve noticed that Mexicans have their own subtle ways of communicating that straight-shooting Americans like myself will never comprehend.
On Monday I woke up not feeling well, so I sent my boss a text message asking for the day off. He answered me with the following message: “Don’t you have your interview today?” (some survey thingy our department is doing)
I texted back “No, not until tomorrow.”
I then sat around for a few minutes waiting for my boss to text me back with an answer. “Why doesn’t he say anything?” I said to Jorge.
Jorge responded with a casual, “He already gave you permission not to go in today.”
Me: “No he didn’t. He asked about my interview, and I said I didn’t have one until tomorrow.”
Jorge: “That means yes.”
Me: WHAT?!?! How does a question mean “yes”??? In the US, it doesn’t mean “yes” until someone says “yes”.
My boss never texted back and asked me how I was doing at work the next day, so I guess it did mean “yes”.
When I was in college here, this happened to me a lot with my classmates. There were several occasions when I might make a comment to a teacher, only to have my classmates later tell me, “Don’t you remember we agreed not to say that to the teacher?” Turns out there had been insinuations and clever nuances in previous conversations that I wasn’t even aware existed. I appeared to have broken some sort of code.
On weekends we go out a lot with my in-laws. Frequently we’ll get into the car to go somewhere, like Jorge’s aunt’s house, for example. We’ll then head in the direction of a supermarket. Conversations go like this:
Me: Where are we going?
Me: I thought we were going to your aunt’s house?
Jorge: Yeah, but my dad said we have to stop by Walmart first to pick up some snacks.
Me: When did he say that?
Jorge: Right before we left.
Me: But WHEN did he say that? I was with you both the whole time!
I used to think it was a language barrier. Maybe my limited Spanish was preventing me from picking up certain sentences. Now that I speak fluent Spanish, I see that’s not the case. Mexicans have a way of saying something without directly saying it. I wish I could go into further detail, but I still have NO IDEA how it works.
Ok fellow expat bloggers in Mexico, tell me you know what I’m talking about!! What is this secret language and how does it work?
For those of you who don’t already know, my job is to write, edit and translate web content for a travel agency here in Cancun. I’m proud to say our content is original and well-written.
However, a coworker recently came across our website’s original frontpage text in our archives… from the year 2000. Enjoy!
Cancun is an island.
A very unusual island, with a whimsical silhouette that conforms perfectly to the classical geographic definition or what an island should be: solid land surrounded by water.
This is the case of Cancun, a section of solid land, firmly anchored to the earth’s crust and forever surrounded by salty seas. That’s exactly where all similarities among Cancun and all the other islands of the world end.
So Cancun is, in fact, an island… just in case you didn’t catch that.
When I first came to Mexico, I had a hard time expressing myself 100%. I always wished I could speak English, which gave me more opportunities to use more colorful expressions.
After a few years in Mexico, however, I’ve become familiar with using many of the local idioms and expressions used here, which allows me to express myself sometimes even better than an English!
One of my favorites is “engentarse”. (You probably won’t find this in a dictionary.)
When conjugated to “Me engento”, it roughly translates to “being in a crowd of people really puts me in a bad mood”.
It comes from the word “gente”, which means “people”.
I use this one a lot. It’s the main reason I avoid concerts and why I always want to leave nightclubs early.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s going grocery shopping. I don’t mind making my list, picking things out, pushing the cart around, or waiting in line. What really bothers me is the massive amount of people, and weaving my way through masses of shopping carts. I will do everything I can to get out of Walmart as quickly as possible.
I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to Jorge for being mean at Walmart last night… and pretty much every time we go grocery shopping. Jorge, you should be able to buy oranges, a chocolate bar and even hot dogs without me rolling my eyes. Thanks for loving me anyway.
Saw this at Malecon Americas mall yesterday…
If you’re not sure about the English usage here, check out my previous post from a few months ago:
This is a perfect example of the popularity of the English word “shopping” here in Mexico. Unfortunately, they decided to be creative and throw in the word “eating” as well.
It’s so bad, it’s almost physically painful.
I love you Shakey’s, but I just might have to boycott you after this.
Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve done a “How to Speak like a Mexicano” post!!
A pretty well-known local gym uses this to advertise its classes:
In case you couldn’t figure it out, this gym offers stripping classes.
Here in Mexico, the word for stripper is “stripper”. (I love how they choose English to describe the more vulgar and shallow things in life. Very smart on their part.)
However, with Spanish pronunciation, the word is pronounced more like “eh-STREE-per”. Since they use the long “ee” sound to pronounce it here in Mexico, I guess the owners of this gym assumed strip was spelled with a “ee”. Good intentions. Bad follow-through.
Once in Acapulco, I saw it advertised as “strep dancing”. Kudos on getting closer to the correct pronunciation… but naming a dance after an illness is definitely not sexy.
Can you spot the other mistake on this ad?
Also… can anyone tell me what “gap” is?