Cenas, porfas and findes

Posted on August 17th, 2010 by Theresa

“ ¿A cuanto están?” I ask the younger of the two women standing behind a row of upturned crates piled with higos chumbo (prickly pears).

“MaMAAA,” she asks mama, even though they’ve been selling the things all morning, “¿A cuanto están?”

“Tres euros la cena,” replies mother in her gardening gloves as she expertly slices off the thorny peel and drops the fruit into a plastic bag held open by the next customer.

La cena? The dinner? I look confused.

You know, says the customer, helpfully, enunciating the words as if I’m an idiot: “Tres eu-ros por do-ce.” Three euros for 12, for a dozen, una docena. I geddit.

“¿Y a cuanto el desayuno?” (And how much is the breakfast) I joke. They all look at me as if I’m an idiot.

Bueno, or ‘weno as we’re all saying these days, what I have just heard is an example of linguistic acortamiento, or shortening. There are loads of examples of this in Spanish, and unlike ‘cena’ it’s nearly always the second part of the word that gets lopped off. Some of these are so widely-used they’ve replaced the original word. Think of  bici (bicicleta), moto (motocicleta), cine (cinematógrafo), mili (milicia – military service), boli (bolígrafo – pen). Even the crusty old Real Academia accepts the colloquial use of cole (colegio – school), súper (supermercado), porno (pornográfico, pornografía), anfeta (anfetamína) and progre (progresista – trendy left-wing).

There are plenty more, though, that don’t make it anywhere near a dictionary: depre (depression), profe (professor, insti (instituto – high school), mani (manifestación – demonstration), tranqui (tranquilo – calm down), chuche (chuchería – sweetie), pelu (peluquería – hairdresser’s), compi / compa (compañero – classmate) – and cena (docena – dozen).

The syllable-lopping isn’t restricted to individual words, either. Text messaging has helped to get us all using finde (fin de semana), porfa or porfi (por favor) and weno (bueno – well, as interjection). All of which comes quite naturally in Andalucía, word-shortening centre of the territorio nacional, where I learnt long ago that ‘all for nothing’ can be honed to a natty topaná (todo para nada).

Got any more examples? Please add. Go on, porfa.

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15 Responses to “Cenas, porfas and findes”

  1. Valerie Says:

    la sele / selec = selectividad (university entrance exams)
    dire = director
    perdi = (llamada) perdida (miscall)
    mens = mensaje (text message)
    uni = universidad

    Lots of others on the tip of my tongue.

  2. Tamara Says:

    Our favourite was very early on in our first year in Spain, when we asked how much we owed in the bar, and back came the answer “Dobby”. Or that’s what it sounded like (especially as we’d just seen the Harry Potter film with Dobby the House-Elf!). It turned out we owed two euros and 20 centimos – “do’ -bé”, short for dos euros veinte centimos. Easy once we got used to it!

  3. Valerie Says:

    Nice one, Tamara!
    More keep coming into my head now.
    habita = habitación (room)
    cumple = cumpleaños (birthday)
    mates = matemáticas (maths)
    poli = policía
    peli = película (film)
    prota = protagonista

    I also remember hearing ‘munipa’ on a Catalan soap opera = (policía) municipal. I think this was before the Mossos d’Esquadra took over the munipas.

  4. Theresa Says:

    I love prota – meant to put it, then forgot. Munipa sounds like a tree …. And how about ‘cuen’. ¿Te das cuen? No me di cuen. And ‘ya ‘toy’ – but methinks that’s Andaluz!

  5. Robert Says:

    500 pesetas – “quini” (obviously no longer used but still very funny!)
    l’Hospitalet de Llobregat (city right next to Barcelona) – “Hospi”
    matizado (“cool” – only used among youngsters) – “mati”
    vacaciones – “vacas”
    oposiciones – “opos”

  6. Valerie Says:

    Thanks Robert. Really ‘mati’ 🙂

  7. Valerie Says:

    For the mystified: ‘quini’ is from ‘quinientos’.

  8. Theresa Says:

    Matizado was new to me – with this meaning – so mati … Love it, tho’. Cheers Robert.

  9. Valerie Says:

    ciber = cibercafé (internet cafe and by extension any internet shop)
    telecos = telecomunicaciones

  10. Valerie Says:

    resi = residencia (universitaria)

  11. Theresa Says:

    Ah, and best of all ‘simpa’ or ‘sinpa’. To do a runner: ‘sin pagar’.

  12. Emma Says:

    bachi = bachillerato
    stoy = estoy
    biblio = biblioteca
    mochi = mochila
    compi = compañero
    cumple = cumpleaños
    díver = divertido
    fut = fútbol
    foto = fotografía (but you would do the same in English anyway photo = photograph)
    ilu = ilusión
    jo = jolines
    filo = filosofía
    mates = matemáticas
    trigo = trigonometría
    caste = Lengua Castellana
    cat = Catalán
    bio = biologia
    geo = geografía
    pelu = peluquería
    peque = pequeño
    súper = supermercado
    simpa = sin pagar
    rotu = rotulador

  13. Pelayo Says:

    What about “lipo”. Hacerse una lipo… dunnow how to say it in Eng. but is a surgery to remove fat!

  14. Theresa Says:

    I don’t know if there’s a slang term for liposuction in English, but there is ‘muffin top’ to decsribe the roll – the michelín – that spills over the top of your jeans that makes some people want one! A lipo that is. http://www.gotobeauty.com/glossary-of-slang-terms/

  15. sarah Says:

    We talk about el presi for the president of our community association!

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