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Vesre: back slang in Spanish from Argentina

What is vesre and why do Argentines speak backwards sometimes? Today I’m going to give you the answer!

Let’s get started with the basics: vesre is revés in reverse, which in Spanish means… ‘reverse’!

According to the Diccionario of Americanismos, it’s a mecanism of word formation that consists in an alteration in the order of syllables.

(And since we are here, this is a list of the best online Spanish dictionaries for students!).

More precisely, vesre is informal language in which words are spoken as though they are spelled backwards. It’s the equivalent of back slang in English!

Are you ready to learn how to form Spanish back slang words? Let’s go!

Vesre: back slang in Spanish from Argentina

To be fair, vesre as a linguistic phenomenom doesn’t belong exclusively to Argentina, but it’s also widespread in Uruguay!

This method of word formation originated towards the end of the 19th century in the River Plate area, especially as part of the slang of the slums of Buenos Aires.

These poor areas of the city were inhabited mainly by lower-class immigrants coming from Europe, mostly Spain and Italy.

Then, their particular way of speaking (called lunfardo) was popularized by Argentine tango singers in the first half of the 20th century. From the slums to the whole nation!

I have found a good example of vesre used by a native speaker, none other than the very Diego Maradona! You can watch the video here.

Tocuén es cuento

Tocuén es cuento hahaha, classic Maradona. Oh, wait, you didn’t fully get it? Let me help you!

This is the transcription: Cuando nosotros estábamos de luto, Bilardo trabajaba en las sombras para echarme. La lista que me pidió Grondona, que yo se la di, era tocuén… tocuén es cuento. Porque Bilardo y Humberto ya la habían hecho.

So, a little bit of context! Who is who? Carlos Bilardo is a former football player and manager, who coached the Argentina squad when it won the FIFA World Cup in 1986.

At the time (2010) Bilardo was technical director of national teams, and Julio Grondona was the president of the Argentine Football Association.

Finally, Humberto Grondona was Julio’s son, at the time deputy-director of national teams.

Maradona says they were mourning over the elimination of Argentina from the World Cup 2010, when it lost 4-0 against Germany.

The list he is talking about if the list of players that a coach has to make in order to call up players for the national team.

So basically, Maradona was asked to make a list when actually his dismissal as coach of the national team had already been decided.

In informal language, cuento means ‘lie’. That’s why Maradona says that the list was cuento, or tocuén in vesre!

So how do we form words in vesre? Let’s go there!

a house upside down - vesre in spanish
Una casa al revés en Sudáfrica. – Foto de Magda Ehlers: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/casa-al-reves-3735570/

How to form words in vesre: back slang in Spanish

Technically, you just need to take a word and break it into syllables. Then, you rearrange the order in reverse and that would be it.

For example, café (ca-fé) and peso (pe-so) would be feca and sope in vesre respectively.

But when a word is longer than two syllables this rule doesn’t always apply because it would sound strange or unusual to a native’s ears.

Let’s take boludo. You could break it into syllables bo-lu-do and then change it for dolubo. But usage has established dolobu as the most common vesre form.

And since we are here, if you want to learn more about the meaning of boludo in Spanish you can read my critically-acclaimed (?) right there!

So I’m going to make a list of terms commonly used in vesre, which sometimes might even be chosen over the actual word in an informal conversation!

Don’t trust any other lists circulating on the internet. I have NEVER ever heard anyone saying gomía (?) instead of amigo. Seriously.

Just learn a couple of the following and impress your Argentine friends!

Back slang in Spanish: glosary of most common words in vesre!

arafue = afuera
atroden = adentro

bolonqui = quilombo (colloquial; it means mess, disturbance, ructions, ruckus)

chegusán = sánguche (sándwich)

dogor = gordo
dolape = pelado
dolobu = boludo
doparti = partido (as in match or game)
dope = pedo

feca = café

garcar = cagar (colloquial; in vesre is especially used as in to scam, to cheat)
garpar = pagar

jermu = mujer (in vesre meaning ‘wife’)
jeropa = pajero (colloquial; it means pervert, slacker)
jovie, javie = viejo, vieja (colloquial for a senior adult or your parents)

langa = galán (colloquial; handsome man, gallant, hunk)
lleca = calle
logi = gil (colloquial; fool, idiot)
lompas = pantalones
lorca = calor

nami = mina (colloquial; woman, girl)

ñapi = piña (colloquial; it means punch)
ñoba = baño

ofri = frío (cold as a noun)

rocho = chorro (colloquial; it means thief, burglar)
rope = perro

sope = peso (a unit of peso argentino, the national currency)
sopermi = permiso (vesre version used to colloquially ask somebody to move, so that you can get past them)

toga = gato (colloquial; high-level prostitute, escort / fool, chump)
tomuer = muerto
toor = orto (colloquial and vulgar; ass)

yorugua = uruguayo

zapán = panza

And that’s all for today!

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I hope you have enjoyed this article about vesre in Spanish!

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Thank you very much and until next time,

Kevin.

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