3 Jul 2011

Mundo de Pedo

Along with the Spanish empire’s long and lofty thrusts across the Americas, came a common language that has permeated areas far and wide.  Learning that language, however, is just a skeleton for then beginning to understand the idiosyncrasies of one region’s use of it. While generally intelligible throughout for all, certain vocabulary and phrases may be household terms in one pocket of Spanish speakers, but hold profane connotations in others. Pendejo in Argentine Spanish describes a rambunctious youngster or punk, but takes its original meaning from the same word in Spain used to mean ‘pubic hair.’ Golosinas which means candies or sweets in Argentina, takes a more sinister spin in Mexican Spanish as it refers to a prostitute. Even Argentina and Chile, two bordering countries, have their linguistic differences. If an Argentine uses the word pico he is referring to a kiss and not, as his Chilean counterpart might misinterpret it, the male reproductive  organ.
While differing translations of the same word reveal one way in which language settles itself down into the nooks and crannies of specific linguistic contexts, we also encounter totally unique vocabularies and word uses in different locations. One of the most intriguing language discoveries I have made in my time here is in an unearthing of the meaning of the mystical word pedo. Unglamorously translated pedo is the literal equivalent  to our fart. Within the Argentine case, however,  pedo is implicated in all kinds of strange contexts and has a complex layering of meanings that goes far beyond simple bathroom humor.

  1. Al pedo- [Literal: To the fart Metaphorical: condition of having no plans or obligations] One of the most common appearances of pedo is used to express boredom or having an excess free time. Come on over, I’m al pedo. What did you do yesterday, nothing I was al pedo the whole day. Pinpointing an English translation for this use of pedo proves rather complicated. While al pedo can sometimes evoke a sense of boredom, it more often designates the nebulous and structureless nature of a particular span of time.

  1. Al pedo- [Literal: To the fart (#2) Metaphorical: in vain, futile, useless, worthless]. While you may notice this is the exact same orthography as example #1, in certain contexts the same words can give you a radically different meaning.
    1. Ex. I went all the way to the mall, but it was al pedo because the store I wanted to go to was closed.
    2. Ex. Al pedo I fixed my bike, because it was stolen a day later.

3.      En pedo- [Literal: In fart Metaphorical: f****d up, crazy]. En pedo refers to a mental state achieved  after the consumption of drugs or alcohol and most likely a potent cocktail of both. Examples: Esa noche estaba re en pedo. [That night I was really f****d up]. Equally en pedo can be used to describe someone who’s not thinking clearly with or without the influence of outside substances. ie What a terrible outfit!? Are you en pedo???

a.       Ni en pedo[nor in fart]—Common phrase using the third definition of pedo describing something you would never do. If some young Argentine,[who you have no interest in] is romancing you in a club and invites you back to his/her car/place, your response Ni en pedo!, Meaning—not even if I were totally f****d up would I do something like that!

  1. Un pedo- [Literal: a fart Metaphorical: a hangover] Directly linked to the third definition of pedo above, this fourth meaning is the belated result of being en pedo for any amount of time—having a pedo. What a pedo I had this morning!

  1. Me mandé un pedo-[Literal: I sent myself a fart Metaphorical: I made a mistake, I really messed up]. In this case pedo’s meaning leans towards something like mistake or error. Sending yourself a fart can cover all kinds off errors from the most trivial occurrences to much more grave situations. With a cursory glance this fourth meaning of pedo seems rather confounding, however, further investigation  reveals some striking similarities between  the ideas of a fart and a mistake. They both can be embarrassing and unexpected and both are rather difficult to recover from if committed in public.  (A little extra trivia: Along similar lines a parallel phrase is used to express the same sentiment interchanging the word pedo with moco- buger. Me mande un mocoI sent myself a buger.)

  1. De pedo [Literal: By fart Metaphorical: By a hair, by luck] ex. De pedo we didn’t crash the car just then. This use of pedo expresses something that just barely happened but then didn’t thanks to the grace of god, or pure luck or in this case a fart. A pedo is not something in which one should put a lot of faith; it is after all gas, microscopic particles of fecal matter, and odor, not a terribly trustworthy combination.

  1. Una nube de pedos [Literal: cloud of farts Metaphorical: in a daze, in the clouds] El vive en una nube de pedos He lives in a cloud of farts, meaning that cede person is spacey, unfocused, in lala land, got his head in the clouds etc. This Argentine cloud, however, is distinctively more repulsive than the harmless water based clouds we English speakers let our heads float into.

Believe it or not, one could probably squeeze a couple more meanings out of this complex vocabulary word not to mention a slur of related words in which pedo is the root. While the meanings listed above are each distinct, they all seem to lead to one single metaphorical character that is the Argentine pedo. Within this conceptual pedo, we encounter a cloudy, unclear type of no-mans land in which the rules and regulations of daily life dissolve. A pedo’s repercussions are unknown and unpredictable and can disrupt the continuity of regular life. Beware of these Argentine pedos, but at the time one might learn to appreciate them for the vibrant and imaginative metaphors they add to colloquial Argentine speech.