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13 Things Your Mexican Grandma Says and What She Really Means

by Rulo Luna Ramos Feb 9, 2015
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1. Your grandma says “¡Ave María Purísima!”
Literal translation: “Hail purest Mary!”

To express surprise or shock about something. She’ll pick a main character for this expression from the whole Catholic saint dynasty, according to her personal preferences and the intensity of the surprise. She’ll usually cross herself during the exclamation to add a touch of drama. Youngsters have substituted this expression with the more profane “Ay güey!”…and they no longer cross themselves.

2. Your grandma says “Viejas argüenderas”
Literal translation: “Those old gossipers”

To refer to that group of friends with whom she gathers for gossiping purposes. Of course, her participation in such necessities is merely circumstantial…she is just a victim among those evil doers.

3. Your grandma says “Condenados marihuanos”
Literal translation: “Damned potheads”

To inform you about a group of youngsters who spend their time loitering around her place and whose sense of fashion clearly disturbs her. Slackers with inappropriate garments, like trousers that seem too tight or too loose, piercings or any visible tattoos, can’t be anything but marihuanos. You might think that your abue doesn’t have a clue about drugs or anything of the sort; however, those strange herbs she keeps in alcohol to cure herself from rheumatic pains are not exactly coriander. Where does she actually get that stuff?

4. Your grandma says “Si dios nos da licencia”
Literal translation: “If God gives us the opportunity”

She loves to use this ominous sentence whenever she talks about future plans. Notice that the phrase is cleverly expressed in plural. Just a reminder that you’re not getting any younger either.

5. Your grandma says “El chiflón”
Literal translation: “The one who whistles”

To refer to any wind current that could cause you some nuisance. For example, leaving the house immediately after having a big meal can crook your mouth if you encounter el chiflón in your way. Sometimes, these evil winds stay inside someone’s body and the only logical solution is to make a cone out of today’s newspaper, put it in the patient’s ear and — of course — set it on fire. Alternative medicine at its best!

6. Your grandma says “¿Ya andas tomando vino?”
Literal translation: “Drinking wine already?”

This is the usual question your abue will use to find out if you’re developing a habit for alcoholic beverages. She doesn’t give a damn about the different types of alcohol. From beer to absynth…everything is the same and will be referred to as wine.

7. Your grandma says “Debe ser por la Canícula”
Literal translation: “Blame it on the dog days”

To explain any kind of disgrace or misfortune that occurs during the hot months of the year. Of course, excessive heat can cause a lot of trouble, but blaming everything on a heat wave is just too much. The pain on her knees, blame it on la Canícula!, and that ugly spider that walked into her house the other day, yep, La Canícula’s fault as well.

8. Your grandma says “Jaletina”
No literal translation for this one…sorry.

Whenever she refers to gelatina (jello). And according to the Royal Spanish Academy…she’s not mistaken!

9. Your grandma says “Ya es la hora de mi comedia”
Literal translation: “Time to watch my comedy”

To inform you her favorite telenovela is about to start and that she doesn’t want to be bothered. If you decide to stay and share the moment with her, she’ll give you a quick briefing of every character and plot twist you need to be aware of in order to understand the current chapter. She’ll also start complaining about how illogical these stories are getting nowadays and she’ll swear that this is the last telenovela she follows in her life. A word of caution: watching the telenovela with your abue once can easily turn into watching the telenovela with your abue forever…and no, this is not the last one she’s gonna follow.

10. Your grandma says “Se te va a derramar la bilis”
Literal translation: “Your bile is gonna spill”

Meaning you should stop your tantrum right away. Calm down hombre!

11. Your grandma says “Ese niño está espantado”
Literal translation: “That boy is frightened”

A scared or frightened child is not the one who just saw a marathon of japanese horror movies on the TV. Being scared means being ill, and grandmas love to cure children from espanto. For such occasions, they keep a drawer full of strange ointments that must be applied in the correct parts of the body while repeating some prayers. The details of the ritual can vary, but children normally go from frightened to full panic due to the process. Wanna convince your abue that there’s no such thing as being scared? Good luck with that!

12. Your grandma says “Ponte unos chiqueadores”
Literal translation: “Put on some chiqueadores

To put on what?!? Chiqueadores are the perfect solution for your bad mood, stress or to get rid of that recurring headache. This strangely named cure consists of pieces of plants — commonly sabila or tobacco — which you must put on your temples. They’re commonly fixed by a bandanna or paliacate, and they really work!

13. Your grandma says “Ya se soltó la tromba”
Literal translation: “The deluge has been unleashed”

So you better stop wasting your time on the internet and go grab the laundry before the rain gets it all soaking wet.

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