What, Exactly, Is Chiflazón?

Because my mind works in strange ways, and because I can’t help myself, I usually pepper my English with Spanish even when I’m hanging out with non-Spanish speaking friends. I have to say I’m lucky to have great friends, because usually they just ask what I mean, or ask me to explain the concepts or words to them, but the one I’ve had the hardest time with — even with my Spanish speaking Latino friends — is chiflazón or chiflado/a.

Apparently, it’s a very malleable concept, which I think is incredible given how vast and rich culture can be. What struck me, though, with this particular word is how much one can invest in a concept and come to believe it to be universal — yet be so mistaken.

To me, growing up, chiflado (or chiflada, in my case) was a way to describe a whole host of sentiments, but the best direct translation I can come up with is “spoiled,” in the sense of “stop acting like a spoiled brat” but with a humorous and silly twist to it. As a kid, my parents, grandparents, tías and tíos would apply the word to me when I was being silly mostly, but also to other peoples’ kids when they were acting like spoiled brats.

The context and the tone of voice all were really important for deciphering the exact meaning.

Enter the rest of the world, and I come to find that even other people with Mexican families, let alone to mention people from Perú or El Salvador, have entirely different understandings of this world all together. I was surprised, when I looked it up, to find that it basically means mad, crazy or nutty, which is what my friend from Perú t0ld me it mean. It can also mean to whistle, as other Mexicans have told me. Or, it can mean nothing at all, which was the case with several Salvadoran friends of mine.

I guess my point is that culture is often something that we carry around wholly and uniquely inside of ourselves. For example, even though to my Salvadoran friends the word meant nothing, it does now, because they met me and understand the way in which I use the word. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Culture can be such a powerful and yet invisible thing, changing from family-to-family, country-to-country, and even from word-to-word.

Follow Sara Inés Calderón on Twitter @SaraChicaD

[Image Courtesy Obama.me]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]