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So that's what that means

Jason Archer and Paul Beck's great video for the Molotov song Frijolero prompted me to revisit some of the lyrics in the song I hadn't quite gotten.

For those of you who didn't catch it when the song came out, Molotov is a leading group in Mexican rock and rap. Their drummer is a norteamericano who grew up in Mexico, permitting them to turn Frijolero into a gem of bilingual maledicta. The premise is that a racist American and an equally blunt Mexican exchange views (ahem) on border policy in various flavors of English and Spanish, with no holds barred in the choice terminology. That's led to lots of amusing instances of different parts of the song being censored on different sides of the border.

Thanks to the detailed explanation and translation of the song by Alan Wall -- whose politics I disagree with but I have to say he's very fair in presenting Molotov's -- I now know what all those words mean! Well, almost. (Does pinche have the literal translation he gives it?)

Molotov: Frijolero video

Even if the song never caught your ear, the video is a must. The appearance of Mexican general Santa Anna in the back of an INS van is particularly inspired. Archer and Beck's other videos are also worth exploring.

P.S. This mysterious mouse appears in the video, too. At least I don't think they have koalas in Mexico.

language 2005.04.27 link


I started to comment, got carried away, and decided it was too long to continue in your comments section. Check this entry for the rest of my Frijolero musings.

michaelm [plantwater cxe gmail punkto com] • 2005.04.28
I wouldn't translate pinche the way he translated it. My mom said that origin of the word was as a cook's helper, but I'm not sure if it's true. I've always thought of it like using "fucking" as an adjective. For instance, Café Tacuba has a song entitled Pinche Juan. I always thought of it as Fucking Juan.

cindylu [citlalli31 cxe diaryland punkto com] • 2005.04.28
Agreed. I think 'cunt' is a long shot for translating 'pinche' and I think michaelm is right in calling it sensationalist. I'd put pinche right between 'damned' and 'fucking' and depending on the context I think it could be translated as either. I also think he's off base in describing 'culero' as 'coward.' 'Asshole' is a much better translation. What's interesting though is the same footnote explanation is all over the web.

I gotta make sure to check out the video one day.

oso [oso cxe el-oso punkto net] • 2005.04.28
Prentiss, nice post. Yeah, Alan Wall is fucking puñetero. I didn't like his translation of the song so I made my own here. I really appreciate the link to Jason Archer and Paul Beck's site.

elenamary [elenamary cxe gmail punkto com] • 2005.04.28
The best translation I have heard to date for pinche is the British bloody. Not horribly offensive, but not terribly polite either.

Talula [talulamacioce cxe gmail punkto com] • 2005.05.01
I agree with oso. It's way milder than "cunt". Right between "dammed, "shitty" or "fucking" in rudeness and dirtiness depending on what word you put with it. "Jerkass" used as an adjective, perhaps, slightly cruder than "dumbass". and yeah -- Wall, what a.... jerkwad.

badgerbag [lizzard cxe bookmaniac punkto net] • 2005.05.02
also in disagreement with the translation of pinche; dictionaries usually list it as bloody but it's definitely got a range of meaning. slightly related: how would you guys translate naco?

la maestra • 2005.05.08
Wow. I just saw that you added a link through my website to my Frijolero commentary thorugh Technorati. Yeah, I can't believe how literally he translated the song...leaving no room for figurative description....I have never heard the word pinche used for cunt...never never...ha. I just have to laugh about this guy.

I can't understand how conservatives want to return to an isolationist homeland ideology when they are so supportive of using over-seas labor and resources. If you want to close our borders then let's bring back all of our own companies, cease international interests, stop fighting wars and use our own natural resources and labor forces. Then we will see how differently they will feel when they have to pay more out of their pockets and live by on the little we have left of our nation's natural resources. If we are to have an open forum with the world in trade and culture then the border will never become closed as they so wish it to be. As far as I can tell, the things they are complaing about (illegal immigration, drug sumggling, reverse racism) are the things they helped developed (it's not just the US's fault, the Mexican government has much fault as well which Molotov attacked in their song "Gimme Tha Power") so I hardly feel that "Frijolero" justifies Molotov as band that is influencing a generation of gringer-haters.

Mayra Cruz [cruz punkto mayra cxe gmail punkto com] • 2005.05.21
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