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Border Glosario: Frontera Glossary

Quixote Nuevo is a play that welcomes both English and Spanish speakers into its audience. There are phrases in Spanish; however, most are usually translated into English phrases immediately following or before the phrase is spoken in Spanish.

“It was important for me to douse the language of Quixote Nuevo with the idioma of my borderland. The characters glide easily from English to Spanish to colloquial Spanglish because that is how we speak in my house. Additionally, this is how I was interested in wresting Cervantes’ novel from the vise of Spain and making it New World, making it Nuevo. Therefore, the characters express themselves through high-flown lyricism like the original novel, but also in language that’s profane and kooky, codeswitching from English to Spanish and vice versa at will and inventing their own neologisms. But it’s also an expression of how languages can so easily defy borders and nationalities, in art and in life.” —Octavio Solis, playwright

Below are a few words your ear might encounter as you follow Don Quixote on his journey throughout La Plancha, Texas.  

ATORMENTAS: torture  

CABALLERO: a knight or horseman; lately a term meaning “gentleman”  

CALACA: colloquial Mexican Spanish word for skeleton  

CENIZAS: ashes (also a small town in the state of Querétaro Arteaga, Mexico)  

CHANTE: home (corruption of “shanty”)  

CHUCO: filthy  

COLLIGE VIRGO ROSAS: Latin term generally meaning “gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” with similar meaning to “seize the day” or “enjoy yourself while you have the chance”

CUCUY: boogeyman  

DALE GAS: go for it (literally “give it gas!”)  

GÜEY: the Mexican slang equivalent of dude; or sometimes idiot  

INFANTA: a Spanish or Portuguese royal princess  

LOCURA: madness, craziness  

MIGRA: border patrol  

MITOTE: commotion, uproar, ruckus  

MOLE: a slang term for blood (also a type of dark Mexican sauce)  

MUERTE: death  

OLIVIDADO: forgotten 

PALETAS: ice lollies, sometimes sold by a paletero  

YONQUE: junk  

In addition to the words and phrases above (reprinted with permission from Hartford Stage), you may also hear:

ADELANTE: forward; often used as encouragement to keep going

BABOSO: slang for stupid

BRACEROS: temporary laborers from Mexico

CABRÓN/CABRONES: slang for bastard, badass, or dude depending on context

CASTILLO: castle. The last name of the owners of Rosario’s Lounge and Karaoke—which Jose thinks is a castle—is also Castillo. (The Castillos own the “castillo.”)

CHOLA: in this context, slang for a tough Mexican woman


EL RIO BRAVO: a.k.a. the Rio Grande in the U.S. southwest and northern Mexico, the fourth-longest river in the U.S.

FLACO: nickname for a man or boy who is skinny

GUAPO: handsome

IDIOMA: language

ÍNSULA: island kingdom

MIJO/MIJA: “my son” or “my daughter,” a term of endearment  

NOMBRE: name

ÓRALE: an exclamation expressing approval or encouragement, or slang for “hey,” “come on”

PENDEJADAS: bullshit

PEPE: a diminutive of the name José

PURGA: medicine with laxative qualities

SOBRINA: niece

TÍO: uncle

VATO/CHAVO: slang terms for a man or boy; “guy,” “dude”

VIEJO: old, or in context, “old man”

Don't worry, there won't be a quiz! Come join us for a vibrant performance that will bring these words to life. Quixote Nuevo is on stage now through Feb. 11, 2024.

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