As I add new definitions of terms, I will be going back through the already published translations and hyperlinking them back to this page.
Many of the words that appear again and again in Golden Age tango lyrics have no adequate one or two word translations in English. These terms are tied historically and culturally to late 19th and early 20th century Buenos Aires, and I have made the editorial decision to leave them untranslated in italics in the texts, and refer you, my readers, back to this glossary.
(el) arrabal noun
A low-income, working class neighborhood on the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires. Some choose to translate it as “slum,” but the English connotations of that word don’t have quite the right flavor. Most of the tangos have a fond attitude toward the neighborhoods they call arrabales.
Related forms are arrabalero/a noun, a person from the arrabal, also adjective of/from/pertaining to the arrabal.
criollo/a adjective, noun
This very old word originally referred to people of (purportedly) 100% Spanish blood who were born in the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire (as opposed to peninsulares, born on the Iberian peninsula). In post-independence Argentina, over the course of the 19th century, it came to refer to those people, places, and things that were thought to have a more “authentic,” “native,” or ” old Argentine” quality, untainted by the influence of subsequent immigrants from other European nations.
Literally meaning “of the port” or “of the harbor,” the word porteño has come to specifically refer to a native of the port city of Buenos Aires (people from the province of the same name are called bonaerenses). Outside of Argentina and tango, it can also refer to natives of the port cities of Cádiz in Spain and Valparaíso in Chile.
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