What is Lunfardo?
A debate exists about whether Lunfardo refers to any Argentina slang or if it only applies to the original terms that began Lunfardo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Early Beginnings of Lunfardo
It is generally accepted that Lunfardo began as a unique slang used by criminals. It spread quickly to the lower economic classes in Buenos Aires and then on to other parts of Argentina. As the 20th century continued, it expanded to other social classes and today many of the words you hear in everyday Argentina Spanish trace their roots to the original prison argot.
Tango and Lunfardo
Tango is a sensual dance style where a couple dance slowly and close together developed in Argentina. As Tango and Lunfardo developed during the same time period the lyrics of some Tango songs began to explore the native Argentine slang. The song "Milonga Lunfarda" by Edmundo Rivero (in Spanish only) explains many words from Lunfardo.
Here are two examples of Tango dancing on Youtube:
1. Sample of Tango Dance:
2. Typical Tango Dance and Music
For more information on tango visit Very Tango.
Common Examples of Lunfardo
One of the most common ways these slang words came about was by reversing letter orders in the word. This is known as vesre which comes from the Spanish word for reverse, revés.
So for example the Spanish word for coffee, café, became feca.
• Doctor transforms to tordo.
• Chambomba is the reverse of bombacha, which are women's panties.
• Garpar is a verb meaning to pay and comes from the Spanish word pagar.
• Gomía is amigo, or friend.
Other Lunfardo words that are not vesre include:
• Cana for police
• Afanar means to rob or steal
• Guita is money
• Laburar is to work
Check out these other Argentina Spanish Slang Expressions articles.