A new bar set to open next month downtown is stirring some discussions because of the many slang connotations of the word its name evokes — some of which are negative and even profane.
La Ch.ngada is going in the former Side Bar space in the 400 block of West Fourth Street.
The bar is a project of Rigo Hernandez, a co-owner of Xcaret Mexican Grill & Cantina, down the street at 202 W. Fourth, and Juan Quinceno, a manager at Xcaret.
The bar’s name, which refers to “La Chingada,” has generated some discussion on social media. The word has many meanings in Mexico. It is the name of at least one town, in the state of Veracruz. The word also is used in multiple phrases, some of which are negative and profane.
Some of the common expressions are: “estar dado a la chingada” or to be ruined; “vamos a la chingada,” or “let’s get ... out of here.”
“Vete a la chingada” can be translated as “go to hell” or something more explicit, and not printable in a family newspaper.
Hernandez said he is well aware of the negative connotations of some of these phrases, but he did not intend any of those interpretations, and doesn’t think his clientele will, either. “With the name, it’s when you get in an argument with your wife, sibling or whoever, and they tell you to go to hell,” he said. “It’s not meant to be serious or anything.”
Claudia Valdez, a native of Sonora, Mexico and a teaching professor of Spanish at Wake Forest University, said that though expressions containing “chingada” can have negative connotations, the typical reaction from a Mexican or Spanish-speaking person will not be negative. “My husband and I are both linguists, and when he told me about it, we both thought how interesting and smart a title. My attitude was totally positive,” Valdez said.
An internet search revealed that other businesses, primarily restaurants, have used La Chingada as a name in such cities as London; Paris, Toronto; San Jose, Ca.; and Scranton, Pa.
Many sources attribute the origin of the negative, vulgar connotations to a historical reference to La Malinche, the Indian mistress of Spanish conquistador Herman Cortez.
Valdez said that the word “chingada” and its root “chingar” have generated so many slang words that they have their own dictionary called “El Chingonario.”
“The meanings change with the context, different syntax, even the intonation,” she said.
Hernandez did agree to use “chi.ngada” instead of “chingada” to comply with sign ordinances, said Chris Murphy, the deputy director of city planning/development services, which deals with enforcing zoning regulations, including signage.
“We had discussions with the owner, along with the city attorney’s office, prior to permitting,” Murphy said. “It was agreed upon that eliminating the letter and replacing it with a period would not constitute a violation of the cited provisions it doesn’t violate any of the provisions cited in the ordinance.”
The space is still undergoing renovation. Hernandez said that the bar will offer beer, wine and cocktails, but that he preferred to keep the specifics under wraps until he is ready to open.
He did say that La Ch.ngada will offer some bar food. “It will be small plates,” he said. The food will be prepared in Xcaret’s kitchen, but won’t necessarily be Mexican food.
Hernandez said he is confident that people will interpret the bar’s name in the fun spirit in which it is intended.
“At the end of the day, we’re just serving drinks to the public. We’re getting positive feedback from the Hispanic community so far,” he said.
“When we tell the whole story, people laugh — they understand how we meant it.”