jugando sin chincharse

Los niños han estado jugando toda la mañana sin chincharse.

chinchar [verb] – to annoy, goad or antagonize [someone], to squabble

Winter is my favourite time to go to southern Spain – long walks along deserted beaches and no need to worry about sunburn. We’ve had great weather this year, and the boys have spent most mornings playing on the shore, building sandcastle after sandcastle and laughing every time the waves knock them down.

The other morning as my partner Alejandro and I watched our sons play, I said to him, “Es una maravilla lo bien que juegan juntos en la playa. Esta mañana en el piso se estaban… peleando y discutiendo todo el rato.” (It’s wonderful how well they play together on the beach. This morning in the apartment they were… fighting and arguing all the time.)

Sensing my hesitation, vocabulary-wise, Alejandro replied: “Sí. Se estaban chinchando todo el rato.” (Yes. They were goading each other all the time.) Between you and me, I reckon he’s going for the starring role in my blog. 😉

Variations on this word, such as “chincha berrinche” or “chincha rabias“, can be heard in Spanish parks and playgrounds whenever there’s a squabble, so it’s a word I’m familiar with, but since I wasn’t sure when to use it in the reflexive form, I looked it up and found that it is similar in usage and meaning to fastidiar (to annoy [someone]) and fastidiarse (to put up with something).

Here are some examples of sentences with chinchar (to annoy or goad [someone]):

  • No le hagas caso a tu hermano. ¿No ves que te está intentando chinchar? Don’t pay any attention to your brother. Can’t you see he’s trying to annoy you? 
  • Mi periquito no para de chinchar a su pareja. My budgie doesn’t stop picking fights with its partner.
  • ¡Deja de chincharme! Stop annoying me!

And here are a couple of examples of the less common chincharse (to put up with [something]).

  • Tú te lo has buscado, así que chínchate. You asked for that, so put up with it/lump it!
  • And I found this tantalizing half-sentence on a tennis blog from 2009: “Nadal, cuatro veces campeón del mundo, se tuvo que chinchar ayer…Nadal, four times world champion, had to make do yesterday… Sorry, I couldn’t locate the full sentence, so I don’t know what Nadal had to put up with or make do with. Second place, perhaps?

Anyway, I hope that clears up the difference between chinchar and chincharse. With these “are they/aren’t they” reflexive verbs, it can help to think of them as two completely separate verbs with very different meanings, as in the above examples. The non-reflexive verb can, however, be a reflexive when the action of the verb is reciprocal, as in the main example. Oh geek joy, I feel a new tagging category coming on – because after all practice makes perfect!

no chinchar 08-01-2014 13-29-59 (2)

The (normally) unwritten law of the beach: no chinchar.


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