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Dolobu: Playing "al vesre"

To introduce this popular song, singer Marciano Cantero of Argentina's Los Enanitos Verdes ("The green dwarfs") shares the story of an encounter in Denver:

Me acerqué, así como haciéndome el dolobu.
I came closer, pretending to be a fool.
[Caption 11, Los Enanitos Verdes > Luz de Día]

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¿Dolobu? Try to find that word in a formal dictionary. You can't. That's because dolobu is an inverted slang form of the slang word boludo -- which we wrote about some weeks back. For Argentines like Marciano and many of his fans, boludo ("jerk" or "fool") is such a popular taunt that they have little trouble recognizing dolobu as a scrambled version of it.

There's a term for this sort of scrambling slang in Spanish: Al vesre--which is al reves ("in reverse") in al vesre. Got that? Think of it as a form of Pig Latin.

As a general rule, scrambling syllables a la al vesre will shade a word with more negative connotations than its original meaning. For example, while boludo may be a friendly greeting between friends (as we noted in this space previously), dolobu is more often a straight-up insult. Here are some more examples:

Hotel ("hotel") becomes telo (with the silent "h" dropped to preserve its pronunciation) when it's a seedy, rent-by-the-hour, love motel.

A sifón ("siphon") becomes a fonsi to describe the sort of hooked nose reminiscent of a siphon

The already vulgar verb cagar ("to shit") becomes garcar (with an "r" added to keep it recognizably a verb in the infinitive), with roughly the same crude meaning.

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There are countless other examples. For further discussions of al vesre slang, see these web pages:

Wikipedia > Vesre (in Spanish)

Wikilibros > Diccionario de Vesre
(in Spanish)

Vocabulary

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