Friday, April 9, 2010

Monkey Painter! A trip through the Chilean slangtionary, again.

Quick quiz:

Does the above expression refer to

a) a person who paints monkeys
b) a person who paints sloppily and with both hands and feet
c) a person who insists on being the center of attention
d) a person who likes to paint, and uses monkeys as the subject

C, my friends, C.

Today's bit of wonderment is brought to you by the uniquely Chilean expression "pintamonos."

These days there's not too much Chilean slang that comes my way that surprises me or leaves me scratching my head. I've been here for long enough and talked to enough people and paid close enough attention and am pretty good getting the idea from context, that well, I start to feel pretty cocky about the thing. In fact, every time I hear an expression that someone expects me not to understand that I get, I feel a secret tiny gram or two (much less than an ounce, certainly) of pride that by jove, I've got it.

The pintamonos in question is a personaje (character) in the cast of characters that are people that go to my gym. He's a bit excessive, from his shortie shorts (which no one wears) to his weight-flinging and high jumping and lopey body language. The guinda en la torta (gravy, if you will) was his use of a weighted vest during a combat aerobics class the other day. Chileans in general aren't too fond of stand-outers, which is why this monkey-painting expression exists to begin with. You could also say he's a florerito, or centro de mesa or that "se cree la muerte" (he thinks he's the sh!t).

The interesting thing about this guy, in addition to the fact that he's all muscles and spring in a place where we tend to slightly less superherolike, is that it shows once and again how much Chileans enjoy el chaqueteo, or the devaluing of someone who has achieved success or the prevention of said success. It's the whole "crabs in a bucket" thing you may know from English, about how people will try to impede another's escape from the mundane.

Though I can think of few things less mundane than trying to paint a monkey, and I do wonder if you paint them before or after you fry them (vete a freir monos (go fry up some monkeys) means basically, go to hell). Which is probably what the pintamonos would tell us all to do if badmouthing people in Chile wasn't mostly done in whispers and behind people's weight-vested backs.

We talk about slang all the time here. Blogueras, and others, link to your favorite slang post and we'll go group posty on this one, or write a new one and I'll link you up.

10 comments:

Michelle said...

Hmmm... I'll have to think about this one. My Hebrew confusion tended to be more about me saying the wrong thing ("Day of the Beans" rather than "Holocaust Rememberence Day" or "Engage in foreplay" rather than "tend to a sick person."

I do like the idea of a monkey painter, but I do still wonder whether it refers to a monkey who draws attention by painting, or a person who paints monkeys, thus drawing attention.

Sort of like "More X than you can shake a stick at." Does it mean there are so many that one stick won't do it, or so many that you'd have to shake the stick for hours...

Abby said...

Is another synonym "se cree el hoyo del queque?" Or maybe it's more like, he think's he's "all that and a bag of potato chips" which may imply in this situation as well...

Also what does "pintar el mono" mean? I hope it's not vulgar...I've definitely heard it before but I forget the context. Apologies if I've just said something crude...

Margaret said...

How weird is that? I just sent you an email about a completely related topic (not the gym guy though cuz, well, you know I have a distinct gym aversion!) I SWEAR I did not read your mail until just now... talk about being on the same track!

And I'm sure I can come up with some pretty good slang for you!

Eileen said...

michelle, get out of my brain! (on the stick thing)

Abby, yes, also se cree la Ășltima coca en el desierto (though I actually heard that one in Mexico). Pintar el mono is the same as echar la foca, if that helps! And come on, you must have a good slang post to link to, you're full of them.

Margaret, yes, funny coincidence about the email, I see what you mean! And I would love to link to one of your fabulous posts on slang. You've got lots! (I was thinking of one that just talks about one or two slang expressions, of which I'm sure you also have many).

Bystander said...

Don't forget that 'mono' doesn't just mean monkey. It also means a sketch or cartoon. So it could mean a sketch artist, ie piss artist. But I think that 'pintamono' is just 'con pinta de mono' shortened; dressed up or looking like a monkey. I think it comes from the organ grinders' monkeys here which always sport brightly coloured hats and jackets.

Sara said...

Dang... I think I'm just going to read these posts because my slang in ANY language is sadly lacking :(

Catherine said...

love all that Chilean slang - none of which is known here at all...

Andrea said...

Hmm, I'd say that "pintar el mono" and "echar la foca" are two different things.

"Pintar el mono" is doing things to be the center of attention, while "echar la foca" is basically giving someone a tongue-lashing.

Greetings!

Sandra said...

Greetings from La Serena!
Am so happy to find your blog, the slag entry is especially timely as I've been here in Chile only 3 months and am confundo half the time. Your DR entry was a hoot, I have a friend who had already told me the "pee in the cut" procedure. My Dr is from South Africa, we'll see how that goes if that subject comes up.
Do you know if the English Reader is still open in Santiago?
Sandra in La Serena

Eileen said...

Hey in La Serena. I guess you're no thaving today's intermittent rainshowers up there. Thanks for the comment and for visiting.

The English Reader has been closed for a few years. There is a used book store in Manuel Montt in the galerĂ­a that has the Phone Box pub in it way at the back. There are also periodic booksales at the Anglican church on Los Leones, and sometimes people sell books on allchile.net. I assume you're looking for books? I keep on thinking of hosting a trade thing, but I haven't gotten it together yet. What's the expat thing like in La Serena?

Let me know if you're going to be in Santiago!