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Vesre (reversing the order of syllables within a word) is one of the features of Rioplatense Spanish slang. Natives of Argentina and Uruguay use vesre sparingly in colloquial speaking, and never in formal circumstances. Tango lyrics make widespread use of lunfardo and vesre to highlight the intended underworld atmosphere, or for comic relief.
Vesre is mostly from Buenos Aires, and other cities in Argentina have their own customs. Rosario has its "Rosarigasino" method for obfuscating words, and Córdoba has an entirely different set of colloquial conventions. Yet, most Argentines and Uruguayans have been exposed to vesre through tango lyrics or the media.
Even though vesre has spread to other countries, and can be heard in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, Spanish speakers outside the Río de la Plata area are usually less inclined to use it. Popular speech has created some instances; for example, natives of Barranquilla, Colombia often call their city Curramba, in a stylized form of vesre.
NOTE: When the syllables of the noun are switched, the original gender - masculine or feminine - is kept; e.g., "un café = un feca"
- revés → vesre (reverse; backwards)
- café → feca (coffee) e.g., "Querés un feca?" (Would you like some coffee?")
- caballo → llobaca (horse)
- libro → broli (book) e.g., (usually plural) "Che, agarrá los brolis más seguido!" (Dude, get the books and learn something!)
- amigo → gomía (friend) e.g., "Ehh, qué hacés gomía?!" (Hey! How goes it, my friend?!)
- doctor → tordo (doctor, usually meaning physician but also used for lawyers. "Tordo" is also the name in Argentina of the opportunistic shiny cowbird).
- carne → nerca (meat)
- pizza → zapi ("Zapi" even became the name of a pizza chain)
- baño → ñoba (bathroom) e.g., "Ahora vengo, voy al ñoba un toque" (BRB, gotta go to the john real quick)
- boludo → dolobu or dobolu (dumb, moron, silly, fool), e.g., "Dale, no te hagás el dolobu" (Yeah right! Don't play the fool here – like you don’t know that)
- mujer → jermu (woman; the vesre version mostly means "wife") e.g., "Guarda que ahí viene tu jermu!" (Watch out, here comes your woman)
- pelado → dolape (bald person)
- calle → lleca (street)
- perro → rope (dog)
- gato → toga (cat) "Toga" most likely refers to a female prostitute
- piña → ñapi (a blow with a fist - usually aimed at the face or stomach)
- panza → zapán (a pot/beer belly; protruding stomach - said of a male)
- japonés → ponja (Japanese person)
- patrón → trompa (male boss or supervisor)
- pedo → dope (literally "fart", but used in the expression "estar al dope" = to be sitting around, wasting time)
- barrio → rioba (neighborhood; the "hood")
- pelotas → talopes (literally "balls" meaning "testicles"; used in the expression "Las talopes!" = No way; it ain't gonna happen!), though "tarlipes" (vesre for perlitas, literally little pearls) is used more often
- cabeza → zabeca (someone's head)
Occasionally, vesre is a stepping-stone towards further obfuscation, achieved by evolving into a longer word. For example:
- coche (car) → checo → checonato (after a once-famous sportsman named Cecconatto)
- cinco (the number five) → cocín → cocinero (literally cook; used mostly on the racetrack to mean "the five horse")
The original and vesre versions of a word are not always synonyms; sometimes the reversal adds some extra nuance to the meaning. For instance, the word hotel bears the same meaning as in English (i.e. a normal tourist hotel), whereas telo implies that the establishment is actually a love hotel. Listen to examples
These reversed words are only spoken; rarely found in writing.
In other languages
In English - Pig Latin; (Not exactly with the same morphological construction but similar in purpose and tone)