‘Narco-cultura’: Mexico’s drug slang enters dictionary

Cocaine is known as 'cremita' (little cream) or 'talco' (talc) and a gram of the drug is a 'grapa' while a smaller dose is a 'puntita'. — AFP pic
Cocaine is known as 'cremita' (little cream) or 'talco' (talc) and a gram of the drug is a 'grapa' while a smaller dose is a 'puntita'. — AFP pic

MEXICO CITY, Aug 8 — Pot smokers in Mexico inhale “mota.” A flamboyant drug cartel member bedecked in gold chains is dubbed a “buchon.” A corpse wrapped in sheets is “encobijado.”

Mexico’s underworld has its own lexicon, which has been used for years by drug traffickers and addicts but also the police and the media.

Now it’s fully going mainstream.

Narco slang has become so widespread that the prestigious College of Mexico will include dozens of these words in the second edition of the Spanish Dictionary of Mexico.

“This grave increase in drug addiction in Mexico has produced a new vocabulary and it is our obligation to include it,” Luis Fernando Lara, a linguist at the College and author of the dictionary, told AFP.

Mexico’s “narco-cultura,” a term that refers to the music, films and fashion inspired by drug cartels, has been a controversial part of life in the country.

But Lara shrugs off the risk of being criticized for bringing the gangland vocabulary into Mexico’s own Spanish dictionary, which first appeared in 2010 to highlight the country’s linguistic variations from its former colonial ruler.

“We have to think about what will happen to readers of our dictionary in 100 years, when they open a Mexican newspaper in which this vocabulary appears,” he said. “If we don’t record it, who will understand it?”

Lara has researched newspapers, police reports and medical documents going back decades to find words that could make their way into the dictionary, which will be published in 2017.

The 2010 edition has 25,000 words. Some 7,000 new words will go into the next tome, including some 50 linked to the drug world, though Lara could still find more.

Smoking a ‘churro’

One of the words is “mota,” which is commonly used among pot smokers to refer to marijuana.

He found that the word was being used by Spaniards in the 18th century to refer to the fuzz left behind when making linen.

“I don’t know how it arrived in Mexico, but from the end of the 19th century, it meant ‘marijuana’ and it is still in use. You say, ‘I smoke mota,’” Lara said.

The marijuana cigarette is a “churro,” like the fried dough delicacy popular in Spain and Latin America.

A mota smoker is called “moto” or “motorolo” or “pacheco.” To take a drag is to give yourself a “toque,” or a blast. And to be high is to be “grifo,” or tapped.

A compact brick of marijuana is a “tabique.”

There are more modern terms, such as “bazuko,” which is used for a joint that has both marijuana and cocaine.

Other drugs include “special k,” for a type of hallucinogenic, “chochos” for pills and “chemo” for a cheap glue that some addicts inhale.

Cocaine is known as “cremita” (little cream) or “talco” (talc) and a gram of the drug is a “grapa” while a smaller dose is a “puntita.” Someone who sniffs the drug is a “perico” and getting high off of cocaine is to take a “pericazo.”

Then there’s the drug dealer, known by the English word “pusher,” who is known as “efectivo” (cash) if he is good at this job. A dealer’s boss is a “cacique,” or chief.

Buchon: Chest or whisky?

The drug violence that has killed tens of thousands of people in the past decade has also left its mark.

An abduction is known as a “levanton,” which is an augmentative for the word “levantar” (to raise). No ransom is asked after a “levanton.”

When a person is found wrapped in a sheet after a killing, the body is said to be “encobijado,” a word stemming from the Spanish word for blanket.

The northwestern state of Sinaloa — the cradle of numerous drug lords such as the now imprisoned capo of capos Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — is the root of some of these words.

A drug cartel honcho who wears high-fashion clothes and jewelry is a “buchon” and a similarly extravagant woman is a “buchona.”

“I found two explanations for buchon. One refers to the chest, especially the chest of women, which they call ‘buche,’” Lara said.

“But it is also said that drug traffickers are fans of Buchanan’s whisky and that ‘buchon’ comes from that.” — AFP