Sunday, June 03, 2007

porteno for beginners...

mina is, actually, the spanish word for "mine" (or a hole in the earth from wence precious minerals are produced), so it could be possible, i guess, to take it very derrogatorily (and some may), but in proper porteno (literally, "of the port", but most often used, in argentina at least, to refer to people from buenos aires, and the peculiar dialect they speak), it refers to young (young, of course, being subjective. i have seen the word mina applied to women in their 30's and 40's who were young-looking/acting), beautiful (again, subjective), hip women. i never encountered any minas in argentina who took offense to this slang term.

the male equivalent is pibe. this really has no other translation. sometimes piba is used instead of mina, piba being what would naturally follow as the female of pibe.

los pibes piropear a las minas. that is, hip young good-looking men will piropear the hip young good-looking women as they walk past. in my experience with the two languages, there is no direct translation in english for piropear. i guess "to flirt" would be a close approximation. but flirting, as we think of it, is so far removed from what piropear really is.

imagine, if you will, a warm, sunny, humid day in the city. los pibes son chetos (cool) in their nicest white t-shirts and pressed jeans and their soccer hair (moptops seemed to be quite popular when i was there. grunge before grunge was cool, i guess. we called it soccer hair. it was also bien cheto (really cool) to hold it back whilst playing soccer with a woman's black headband, or whatever they call those things that are hard, covered in cloth, and shaped like a horseshoe).

a pair of lovely minas walk by in short summer dresses, sun-kissed skin, long, flowing straight hair, long legs descending into leather sandals, flounce past, pert smiles on their lips, eyes carrying just the slightest hint of naughty things going on in their heads, as los pibes wash the sidewalk outside their shop.

los pibes stop scrubbing the sidewalk, lean on their brooms, smile, and, so low as to almost not be audible at all, begin complimenting las minas. "beautiful ladies, lovely smiles, gorgeous legs, your eyes are heaven, etc etc." often, it is hard to make out what is being said exactly, as, again, these compliments are almost whispered.

i should note here that, a) piropeas are never shouted. they are never even said at normal conversational level. b) they are never crude. while a pibe might compliment a mina's breasts (using only the nicest and cleanest of phrases), he would never refer to her buttocks or crotch. he is more likely to stick to safer zones (i.e. hair, eyes, smile, neck, shoulders, and legs) and he would never dream of saying something along the lines of what she would look like naked or what he would love to do to her should he find her in his bed in that state. this is just simply not done. piropear, it could be said, is the antithesis of the yank version of the business lady and the construction workers.

it is the duty of las minas to completely ignore los pibes. they don't look in los pibes' direction, they don't smile, they don't nod, they don't in any way acknowledge that they are being piropeadas by los pibes bien chetos. however, i think were you to follow them, they would be talking about little else another block down the road.

and that is it. no numbers are exchanged. no one says, "want to get a drink?" no one asks what the other is doing later. los pibes feel good because two minas hermosas (lovely, or beautiful) walked by and they were able to be present, and be ignored, and las minas feel good because they were basically just told, in the nicest way possible, how hot they look.

yank, in porteno, is yanqui. in most of argentina, the y is pronounced as sh. so this word would actually be pronounced SHON-kee.

so there i was, a pibe yanqui amongst the portenos. i loved it. my accent got so good they used to ask me which province i was from.

i would reply, "oh, a little province from the north called los estados unidos."

"sos yanqui!?!"

and i would always reply, to smiles, laughs, and sometimes the hearty clap on the shoulder:

"soy yanquiporteno."

darth sardonic



Blogger Krissie said...

I enjoyed this story very much.
That is all.

10:12 AM  
Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Thanks for clearing up what a mina is. Next question: What were you doing in Argentina?

12:29 PM  

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