See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

It's National Day in Chile, Which Means Chileans’ Ingenious Naming Games Are Back

Imagen en Flickr del usaurio  Gonzalo Baeza H (CC BY 2.0)..

The Chilean flag made of Converse brand shoes. Image from Flickr user Gonzalo Baeza H (CC BY 2.0).

The Chilean National Holidays, popularly known as “el Dieciocho” (The Eighteenth), take place every year on September 18 and 19. In this land of poets, one of the most amusing and deeply rooted traditions is the use of double entendre when naming diners known as fondas, improvised eateries, and dance halls that pop up during the “fiestas patrias” (national holidays).

Loaded phrases that allude to political contingencies, local humor, celebrity names, or sexual innuendo are all part of the mix. These names are widely discussed and shared on the Internet much to the delight of everyone. Each year there is a healthy competition to see who can come up with the most innovative and creative name. Some even become so famous that they stand the test of time. One example is the dance hall “Yein Fonda” (the hispanicized pronunciation of the actress Jane Fonda's name), which the renowned music group Los Tres founded in 1996.

Below are some of the most popular names for the this year's el Dieciocho:

“El terremoto” (The earthquake) is a traditional Chilean cocktail that was invented after the earthquake of 1985 (hence the name) and is made up primarily of Chilean table wine, pineapple ice cream, and splashes of Fernet, Grenadine, or bitter liquor. The “michelada”—another cocktail made up of beer and lemon—combines Chilean President Michelle Bachelet's name with the word “hada,” which means “fairy” in Spanish, thus becoming Michel-hada.

[In the photo: Lavin's diner: Where the poor eat like a pig… without eating pig. Well-known, tasty options: Kebabs made from the cat from that place next store (or alternatively, dog); fried rats from the Zanjón de la Aguada channel; toasted bread turnovers, with margarine; “pig” roast (made of Viennese sausages); option for the destitute: roast “beef” (literal). Drinks: wine (grape-flavored powdered drink + denatured alcohol); delicious tap water.]

“Lavin's diner”, anything for 2 bucks!

The name “Lavín's diner” plays on the name of a well known political figure. In 2013, former Minister of Social Development Joaquín Lavín launched a cookbook to help poor families prepare meals for $2,000 Chilean pesos (approximately $4 USD). A 1,000 pesos note is colloquially called “luca,” hence the name lucrecia.

“El Palo de Pinilla” (Pinilla's Post) references the Chilean national footballer Mauricio Pinilla. During a World Cup match against Brazil he missed a goal that bounced off the post, leaving Chile eliminated from the tournament.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

Learn more about Global Voices »

Donate now

Close