Vesre: The Crazy Reverse-Talk of Buenos Aires

“Revés” is Spanish for reverse and, if you say its syllables in reverse, you get vesre: a strange little word game that has worked its way into the normal speech of Buenos Aires.

Pizza becomes zapi. Café is feca. Baño is ñoba. Theoretically, you could do this with any word, but a lot of the combinations have become so widely-used, that porteños often don’t even know they’re doing it. And the “vesred” words can take on a slightly different connotation: Hotel = a hotel, but telo = a hotel for sex. Mujer = woman, while jermu = wife. You don’t take your jermu to a telo.

As might be expected, vesre isn’t considered proper Spanish, and not used in formal settings at all. It’s street language, and popular in tango lyrics. In the 1926 tango ¿Qué querés con eses loro? (What Do You Want from That Hag?), the singer tells her ex-boyfriend that his new girlfriend has the profile of a “llobaca”. Llobaca = caballo = horse.

Fun! But I think I’d better concentrate on my regular Spanish, before attempting to say anything in vesre.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Invader Gabe

    I’m afraid you are right, since in the examples you give you already make a mistake: it should be “jermu”. Also, usually when telo is written like that, losing the h.

    But I don’t come only to criticize, I wanted to recommend a landmark for you to visit: the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires. It’s a high school with hundreds of years of history, now belonging to the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and widely regarded as the best and most prestigious in the country. It’s just a couple of blocks from Plaza de Mayo, on Bolívar Street, and I think there are guided tours.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Jime

    LOL! So fun, we used a lot reverse words XD
    Others like

    this one is fun monja=jamon cause monja=nun/sister and jamon=ham
    ah! the vesre of mujer is jermu! not Jurme :O
    Nice post! ^^

    1. Mike

      Thanks for that list! I love the “ham nun” pun. And also thanks to you and Invader Gabe for catching my misspellings!! The post has been updated, so I don’t look so “pidstu”.

      1. nacho

        there’s a misspell up there, it’s «jermu».

        1. nacho

          sorry, i didn’t read the comment from above, you can delete these two 🙂

          1. Juergen

            Silly Autosave .. we fixed but for some reason WordPress published the old version.

      2. Jime

        “pidstu” Love it ♥

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