Know The Complete Unknowns, Your USMNT Rosetta Stone

Subjection Dome: Estadio Matteo Flores, Guatemala City

This is Elliot Turner’s first piece for The Shin Guardian. He didn’t hold back.

For TSG’s Official USA vs. Guatemala, click here.

ET: I prepared this for our US national team, but since Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez are now out there every game, their “game” should suffice.

Oh hello there, you sexy cosmopolitan US national team soccer fan, you.

Every World Cup qualifying, you brush up on your Central American geography and then rock the Trivial Pursuit.

Everybody wants you on your team, but there’s a problem: there’s only one you. You watch re-runs of the National Geographic Bee and mouth the answers before the snotty nine year-olds can even think to blink. You basically rule the world, but you suffer from a lingering doubt.

Your Achille’s heel?

Limited language proficiency. You ask yourself: when at an away game in some far away place, like Pasadena’s Estadio Rose Bowl, are all those Spanish-speakers dissing you, your mother, or both?

Luckily, I am here to help.

As everybody’s favorite white chicano–that’s US citizen of Mexican descent for your TP game–whom you used to make highly questionable Mexican jokes in front of, I possess a wealth of knowledge. Callejero Spanish is my native tongue.

I’m also hitched to a Central American gal, and today’s lesson will teach you just how, when, and if those Guatemaltecos are dissing you or just yapping about. I’ll teach you some basic terms that are easily confused. Think of it as soccer Spanish meets a verbal self-defense class and I am your G.I. Jose.

Listen before your speak…

The first common error involves the term puta.

This word basically translates to skank or prostitute. However, in soccer, a common term for a forward is the similar sounding punta.

Notice the “n” all tucked away in there?

When spoken, the two terms are tough to distinguish. Punta literally means point, and it makes sense to describe a forward since they are the focal point of the attack.

For an attacking midfielder, you may say media punta (half point). For a withdrawn striker, some saysegunda punta. Thus, don’t hear “pu” and “ta” and assume some Guatemalan is insulting your female relatives. They may just be valiantly willing on Carlos Ruiz.

The next term is a classic Guatemaltquisimo: hueco.

Hueco literally means “gap” or “hollow space.” In soccer terms, huecocan be literally translated as “split” or “slide rule pass.” It is either the narrow space between defenders or a defense-splitting pass.

When a forward wants a ball passed to space, he’ll often shout “hueco” at his teammates.

Here’s the problem: huecohas a pretty negative and offensive meaning in Guatemala. Do not use that word to anybody ever. That’s the last time I’ll write it and it will be deleted from these archives after game day tomorrow.

It would be roughly translated as a negative English term for a certain sexual personal preference that I don’t care to repeat. Thus, if you hear your Chapin buddies shouting “Hueco” they are either begging for a nice Hollywood pass or using an outdated insult which I identified above and will no longer speak about.

Either way, don’t sweat it. No Guatemalan midfielder has the vision for that nice a pass, and, in the alternative, you could still probably be called worse. Shocking.

Another point of confusion is the word bola.

Normally, bola means “ball.”

After all bola kinda sounds like ball. Makes sense.

Some more common synonyms in chicanolandia include pelota and balon.

Here’s the sticking point: bola does not mean ball in Guatemala. Rather, it means “rumor.” Thus, your Guatemalan acquaintances may be calling you a chatty Kathy and not talking about the soccer game.

Instead of saying bola, they like to say chibola. If your favorite Mexican Univision announcer was Guatemalan, he would shout “la chibola no rueda mas” at the end of games.

Lastly, one term manages to confuse all folks. I speak of huevo. The word literally means eggs, but can also mean “family jewels.” However, it can also mean lazy. The term huevon means giant egg, but is used to call somebody a big lazy oaf. In Guatemala, huevear is the verb for “to be lazy.”

Nevertheless, huevito does not mean “little lazy dude.” Rather, in soccer, it’s a very common term for a nutmeg. Why? Well, if huevo means family jewels….you can figure it out. Thus, at soccer games, you will probably hear both terms. When Gooch starts huffing and puffing after twenty minutes, shouts of huevon will cascade around the stadium. Conversely, when Donovan nutmegs a defender, expect shouts of huevito followed by laughter. Not at your expense, of course.

So there you have it – not everybody who speaks Spanish is secretly insulting you at soccer games or are they?

They have no idea what’s already happening up here in the bleachers…

7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nelson on 2012/06/12 at 5:46 AM

    juevon could also mean dude. just depends upon the accentuation. but I have no idea how to spell the different homonyms which makes for some confusing emails with friends.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/06/12 at 6:55 AM

      A lot of this stuff varies country to country or even region to region. Here in Mexico, “huevón” is virtually equivalent to “lazy ass”. When I was in Chile, guys would use it with each other all the time sort of like “dude” but much less appropriate for polite society. In Mexico, “güey” probably splits the difference between “dude” and the Chilean “huevón”.


  2. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/06/12 at 6:57 AM

    Excellent work my friend, I too am a undercover gringo hispanic by apparent hue. And the different dialects & eufffisms ( I can’t spell it!) vary by counrty or region. Pato in Nuyrorican means gay not “duck”, or the Brazilian if you’re watching a columbia team and the announcer refers to a player as “pato” or referncing the brazilian soccer star, its not appropriate to laugh, well at least not openly. You also did not include my personal favorite “LLORON” which comes from the word “llorar” which means to cry, so if you hears shouts & hisses of “lloron” during the Spain game or when Ronaldo dives it means big crier or “crybaby”. Also the term for field or pitch varies. some use the word “campo” or some use “cancha” but please don’t mix up “cancha” with “concha”, as in “La concha tu madre”, which is a lewd vulgar insult in South America which doesn’t mean your mother’s seashell. Anyway there are many others out there, feel free to add to our list and educate us all.
    Funny also is how ” Balon” gets changed in many Latin siland countries to “balompie” which mean ballfoot or futbol(soccer).
    Great stuff thanks,
    Guatemalan= Chapines
    Honduras =Catrachos
    Costa Rica= Ticos
    El Salavdor= Salvadorenos or Los Guanacos(citizens)
    Panama= marera roja (red tide) or panameno


  3. Posted by nathan on 2012/06/12 at 8:29 AM

    I want the few precious seconds of my life that it took to read this post…


  4. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/12 at 8:38 AM

    Good stuff man. I am now prepared with crib sheets in hand.


  5. Posted by SamT on 2012/06/12 at 12:00 PM

    Bien hecho, amigo!


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