Cuban expressions are, well…expressive. I recently overheard a conversation in Spanish between a man and a woman on a Havana street. A “dictionary” translation would sound something like this:
Man: “You know, Jose has no delayed steaks because he is lined. He even moved to a new house where the devil gave the three voices. Didn’t you know? You are not in anything, my partner.”
Woman: “Oh, don’t eat feces, young man! I heard on Radio Big Lip that he was finishing but he is also a big packager so you never know. I think he is eating a tremendous cable.”
What could they possibly be talking about? Translated from Cuban slang the conversation is:
Man: “You know Jose looks great because he is doing well financially. He even moved to a new house very far away. Didn’t you know? You don’t seem to be aware.”
Woman: “Oh, don’t be a fool. The gossip is he’s doing well but he is such a liar that you never know. I think he is having a hard time.
Things are frequently not what they seem when “speaking in Cuban” and using Cuban expressions.
Want the best price? Make sure you “put yourself in something” (get your act together) “tear his arm off” (negotiate well) and “don’t let them grab your ass” (take you for a fool).
Cuban expressions are rich, descriptive and fun. They can also be very confusing… unless you’re Cuban.
I would like to share some of my favorite Cuban expressions and help you understand how to use them so that next time you’re in Havana “you will be finishing” (everyone will be very impressed with you).
Expression: No comas mierda
Translation: Do not eat feces
Meaning: Don’t be a fool
Expression: Va a la Habana y apaga fuego
Translation: He goes to Havana and puts out fires
Meaning: He is very talented, does many things well.
Expression: Radio Bemba
Translation: Radio Big Lip
Meaning: Gossip, as in, I heard it on radio big lip
Expression: Comiendo un cable
Translation: Eating a cable
Meaning: Having a real hard time.
Expression: Eramos pocos y pario Catana
Translation: There were few of us then Catana gave birth
Meaning: As if things weren’t bad enough, they got even worse
Expression: Tremendo arroz con mango
Translation: A huge mango with rice
Meaning: A big confusion
Expression: Eso va a terminar como la fiesta del Guatao
Translation: That will end like the Guatao party
Meaning: That’s not a good idea or that will not end well
Expression: Que bola, acere!
Translation: What ball, homey!
Meaning: What’s up, dude!
Expression: Canto “El Manicero”
Translation: He sang “The Peanut Vendor”
Meaning: He died
Expression: Eso dura lo que dura un merengue en la puerta de una escuela
Translation: That will last about as long as a sugary pastry at the door of a school
Meaning: That’s not going to last too long
Expression: No tiene bistec atrasado
Translation: He has no delayed steak
Meaning: He looks healthy and in good shape
I hope you enjoyed these Cuban expressions. What are some unusual expressions from YOUR background?
If you’re interested in Cuba, you might enjoy these posts.
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