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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Castizo 

Here’s a word that’s hard to translate but usually describes something or someone that’s authentically Spanish. 

bullfighting madrid castizo
castizo spanish word

Castizo is an adjective you’ll often hear in conversation with Spaniards when they’re referring to a person, a place or an object that conjures up images of traditional Spain. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to refer only to what’s authentically Spanish – you could refer to a place or person from the UK, the US or Russia as being castizo too – but more often than not it’s used to speak about Spain and its regions.

Even though the image abroad of what constitutes something ‘authentically’ Spanish is usually that of Andalusia, among Spaniards the most pure-blooded region in the country is Castilla-La Mancha, quite possibly because modern Spain has its origins in the Kingdom of Castile. 

Think Don Quijote, Toledo, manchego cheese and jamón serrano rather than bullfighting, sherry and flamenco.

Despite being a cosmopolitan and international city, Madrid is still generally considered Spain’s most castizo city. 

READ ALSO: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain?

windmills castilla la mancha

Windmills dotted across the landscape of Castilla-La Mancha conjure up feelings of ‘castizo’ Spain for Spaniards. Photo: Wikiimages/Pixabay
 

In fact, casticismo was a literary and cultural movement that emerged in Spain in the 18th century to promote the national character and Spanish race in opposition to the influence France and the Age of Enlightenment were having on Spanish society at the time.

It’s worth noting that castizo derives from the word casta (cast, lineage, quality of something). 

So if you’re referring to a person as castizo/a, it’s like saying they’re pure-blooded, of unmixed ancestry or descent, but it can be used to refer to someone who’s from a wealthy and powerful family. 

There was once more of a racial association to its usage, as colonial Spain used the term castizo to define the purity of blood (and skin) of mixed-race people in Latin America, but nowadays castizo is more about origin and tradition than it is about race, although it can sometimes be linked to high class.  

Examples:

Jose María no podría ser un andaluz más castizo; le gustan los toros, el flamenco y la fiesta.

José María couldn’t be a more authentic Andalusian; he likes bullfighting, flamenco and partying.

Mercedes es de una familia castiza con muchos terrenos.

Mercedes’s family is of good lineage and owns lots of land. 

Castizo can also be used to describe a place, custom, language, object that is authentic and true to its roots, unchanged and unadultered.

Examples:

Las Letras es el barrio más castizo de Madrid.

Las Letras is the most authentic Madrid neighbourhood.

Habla un catalán castizo, sin usar una sola palabra en castellano.

She speaks undiluted Catalan, without using a single Spanish word. 

 

¿Hay algo más castizo que comer rabo de toro en Madrid el Día de San Isidro?

Is there anything more authentic than eating oxtail in Madrid on San Isidro Day?

READ ALSO:

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

This adjective is essential slang talk in Spain, a word with lots of meanings, all of them fairly negative.

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

Chungo is a colloquial way of saying that something is difficult, dodgy or bad. 

It can be used to describe a variety of scenarios and it’s a great way of talking like a native Spanish speaker. 

You can talk about the weather being chungo if there are ominous black clouds up ahead.

If you’re stepping into a dodgy neighbourhood, then watch out because it’s un barrio chungo

If you bought a hairdryer at the rastro (flea market) and it doesn’t work properly, then it’s clearly chungo, and the seller is just as chungo.

Maybe you’ve just sat an exam with complicated questions, you’d call it un examen chungo.

Or if you don’t feel very well, then you’re the one that is chungo

There’s even an expression to say that things aren’t looking good – la cosa está chunga.

All in all, chungo is a very versatile adjective that you can incorporate into most daily speech even though it’s colloquial. 

Here are some examples to help you get used to using chungo.

Example:

Está el tiempo un poco chungo, mejor no vamos a la playa.

The weather isn’t very good today, it’s best if we don’t go to the beach. 

Example:

¡Ojo! Es un tío bastante chungo así que no te fíes de él.

Be careful! He’s a pretty dodgy guy so don’t trust him. 

Example:

Le has comprado un perfume muy chungo a mamá por el Día de la Madre.

You’ve bought Mum a really crappy perfume for Mother’s Day.

Example:

El barrio de El Príncipe en Ceuta es muy chungo, ¡ten cuidado!

El Príncipe neighbourhood in Ceuta is very dodgy, be careful!

 

Example:

Me encuentro un poco chungo, con mareos y nauseas. 

I’m feeling a bit bad, I’m dizzy and nauseous. 

Example:

¿Dama de honor cuando el novio es tu ex? ¡Qué situación más chunga!

Maid of honour when the groom is your ex? ¡That’s an uncomfortable situation!

Example:

¡La cosa está chunga! El Barça tiene que marcar cinco goles para clasificarse.

Things aren’t looking good. Barça have to score five goals to qualify.

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