Prentiss Riddle: Language

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Slang: chavistas, escuálidos, chidos, flappers and more

The Washington Times has published a frustrating piece on Venezuelan slang and neologisms originating from the current political crisis. Frustrating because the article lists most of the terms in English translation rather than the original Spanish. "Coupvision" is presumably Golpevisión, or anti-Chávez TV. But what is the Spanish word for "squalid" which Chávez used to disparage his opposition and which they now proudly wear on t-shirts? (It turns out that it is escuálido, which might better be translated as "dirty" or "filthy".) And how precisely are the two sides chanting "he's going, he's going, he's going" and "he's going he's going to stay"? Don't the editors at the Moonietown Washington Times know that the only people who care about this subject are going to want the terms in the original Spanish? (Via New World Disorder.)

(By the way, Golpevisión belongs to a near-universal class of jokes. My first exposure to the Indian national network Doordarshan was during the period when people called it "Rajivdarshan" because of its ubiquitous coverage of Rajiv Gandhi laying wreaths, etc., then a few years later I got to watch Carlos Salinas de Gortari doing the same thing on Mexican "Gortarivisión". But what are the equivalents in the US?)

Meanwhile in Mexico, Hey Chido is the name of a talking doll which speaks Mexican slang and makes wisecracks about Mexico's current president Vicente Fox. I haven't been able to find out what it actually says, nor is the manufacturer's website long on information.

Escualido al ataque Hey Chido

The Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang is a list of ~280 American slang terms from the 20's. "The twenties were the first decade to emphasize youth culture over the older generations, and the flapper sub-culture had a tremendous influence on main stream America; many new words and phrases were coined by these liberated women." Many of the words are still familiar, if only from period movies and books (baloney, beat it, nifty, nookie), but others are less familiar (e.g. big six, a strong man, from the advertising term for a six-cylinder engine; orchid, an expensive item; or petting pantry, a movie theater). (Via

The compiler of the above highly recommends Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang by Tom Dalzell, calling it "the resource for those interested in slang from any decade of the 20th century". Merriam-Webster offers an extended taste of the book on its companion website, including a section on the numerous synonyms for regurgitation and a long discourse on the hip-hop term phat.

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