This article possibly contains original research. (December 2014)
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 rarely 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.
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). "verre" is much more commonly used in Argentina, as in: "Nosotros hablamos al vesre, ¿viste? ("We speak wardbacks, see?")
- café → feca (coffee) e.g., "¿Querés un feca?" (Would you like some coffee?")
- caballo → llobaca (horse)
- botella → llatebo (bottle)
- pelo → lope (hair)
- leche → chele (milk, used primarily to refer to semen)
- 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., "¡Eh!, ¡¿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, not to confuse with "merca")
- pizza → zapi ("Zapi" even became the name of a pizza chain.)
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.
These reversed words are only spoken; rarely found in writing.
In other languages
- Colloquial French has a form of intentional metathesis known as verlan.
- Greek has Podaná with the same morphological construction.
- Serbian has a form of slang called Šatrovački followed in the 1990s with a more ambiguous slang called utrovački.
- Romanian has Totoiana with a similar morphological construction, spoken in the village of Totoi.
- Italian has riocontra featuring inversion of syllables, spoken in Milan and trancorio, spoken in the Mompiano neighborhood of Brescia.