The Cuban ‘Pinga’

Image of one of the demonstrations on July 11th in Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Frank Sánchez Madrigal, Sevilla, 15 August 2021 — In these eventful days for the beleaguered Cuban people, I have listened with emotion and pride to the use of the most helpful words in our daily tropical routine: ‘pinga’ and ‘singao’. Although ‘singao‘ takes all the medals, let’s not underestimate the Cuban ‘pinga‘.

When someone asks me what this or that word means, I always answer: put it in context. And that is valid for any language. A word out of context is worth almost nothing and is devoid of meaning.

According to the RAE, ‘pinga‘ means:

1. f. euphem. colloq. Col., C. Rica, Cuba, Ec., Guat., Hond., Nic., Pan., Peru, R. Dom. And Ven. penis.

2. f. Nic. Little quantity of something. A ‘pinga’ of salt.

3. f. Filip. Hanger, usually a meter and a half in length, used to carry any load that can be carried on the two ends of the pole on the shoulder.

For a Cuban, born and raised on the island, ‘pinga‘ means much more than that. We already know that Cubans are very creative, infinitely imaginative, and unbearably insolent. But the Cuban insolence is a rich one.

¡Manda pinga! ¡Qué pinga! ¡Vete pa’ la pinga, repinga!” [Un-F-ing believable! What the F! Go F yourself!] Here there is a marked emphasis, and notice that it is even musical, it has cadence, it has rhythm, it has a lot of grace.

¡Esto está de pinga, asere!” [Awesome, dude!] Here we can have two interpretations: that it is great and we praise it, or it could have the other meaning that it is horrible and we have to “pa’ la pinga.” ¡De pinga!

On July 11 things got pinga and everyone sent pa’ la pinga to Diaz-Canel, the Cuban dictator. As the endless testimonies of the demonstrations throughout the country have shown, ‘singao‘ (motherfucker) won the gold medal continue reading

, and we could even propose this word for the Oscar of our Antillean language, because singao is 100% Cuban. We can share the pinga with our neighbors in Latin America, and also in the Philippines. I do not pretend to be selfish, but singao cannot be taken from the largest of the Antilles, and I am really sorry to say it.
The Cuban pinga has other variations. Let’s look at the term ’pingúo’. A pingúo is a brave and determined type who has no fear. Thus, the young people who go out into the street to offer up a pa’ la pinga to Díaz-Canel are some kind of pingúos, and Díaz-Canel, a singao.

Our Castillian language is rich and prolific, but with the Cuban touch it gets a whole lot better.

When the Cuban satrap invited his hosts to take to the streets to confront the “mercenaries” paid by the empire (in other words, 85% of the island’s population), many people would have said: “¡Y esa piiiingaaaaaa!”

We  do not know how this pinga is going to end, but the singao already knows what’s waiting for him. We Cubans, being the pingúos that we are, are not going to go easy on him.

And for that generation of reckless young Cubans, who told the singao “enough already!”, all my respect and admiration.

We Cubans are, there’s no doubt about it, de pinga.


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