I was sent this Spanish youtube video the other day. It looks kind of silly, but I don’t speak much Spanish and it’s hard to figure out. I was curious if it’s trying to comment on some certain subculture that exists in Spain?
The short answer is “yes”. I’m not familiar enough with the suburban (?) youth subculture being affectionately mocked by the character to explain the jokes, so I recommend you bring this to Nava’s attention and ask her about it.
FWIW, this article in Spanish has a scholarly(!) examination of the character’s use of language and how that feeds back into the culture the character lampoons: http://www.um.es/tonosdigital/znum14/secciones/estudios-11-Neng.htm.
All I needed to see is the title… “el neng” is a character from a night show (think SNL), and yes, he’s a joke on a type of youth culture. They’re sort of similar to the guys on Jersey Shore only with less gym, or an updated version of greasers. Fast cars (in the end they end up buying a Mazda 3 if that much; most people born in big cities don’t ever bother with a car), lots of time spent looking good, don’t think of the future because anyway it’s depressing. While they exist all over the place (we don’t have suburbia like Americans do, so there’s no such thing as “suburban culture”), they get different names in different places.
The character is from Catalonia but it has never been made clear which definitions of Catalan does he meet and not meet; he mixes Catalan and Spanish all the time, often also with (quite likely misused) English*; he sounds very nasal, to the point where his self-reference of “el nen” (the boy, in a mixture of Spanish and Catalan - nen is Catalan, el can be Spanish or Catalan and he pronounces it like Spanish) becomes “el neng”.
- The guys of that style I’ve run into in Barcelona don’t use anywhere near as much English as el neng does, but the ones in Madrid and the ones in Navarra do (the ones in Navarra are mostly Latin American, too; the ones I’ve seen in BCN were mostly Spaniards, a few from Northern Africa; the ones in Madrid were a mixture of LA and Spaniards - note this is not a census, it’s just the ones I’ve personally seen!)
@Nava: would you explain el neng’s relationship to “dance” subculture? Thanks!
First I’d have to know what the heck that is…
Roughly translated from the link I gave above: “…this character [el neng] who lampoons the ‘dance’, ‘partying’, or ‘maquinera’ subculture in the outskirts of big cities is venerated almost as an idol by young people belonging to that culture of idleness who see him as a spokesman for their lifestyle.”
Ah, ok, I wanted to know whether you referred to the foreign dance culture or just to the local brand. Locally, it’s just what I described, only with loud music added in; thing is, while most neng-style people like to share their music generously with the whole neighborhood (I’ve known guys whose c.1968 car had more horsepower in the stereo system packed in the trunk, than it had under the hood), the music itself can be about anything you care to name. El neng likes chumbachumba, aka máquina, but one of the Mazdas in my home town likes to share boleros and the guys who were in the train the other day were about 3/4 lolailos (flamenco), they were having a bit of a lolailos vs heavies vs makineros ribbing - and they were all the same group of friends.
And as for “the partying subculture”… speaking of that as something which happens “in the outskirts of big cities” ignores the most club-party-selling place in Spain (Ibiza), the place el neng would give an arm and a nut to move to if it didn’t happen to be in the middle of the damn sea (too much water). Yes, the “parties” that get sold to foreigners take place in clubs or in dumps (thanks, foreigners: we’d like Lloret’s beach back - conversely, just rip the damn village off and take it to England with you), but most of the partying in Spain doesn’t. Next weekend is St John’s Eve (midsummer). The following week is St Peter’s. The summer calendar lasts until Pilares (October 12)…
El neng is representative of that fraction of Spanish youth which has not much thought for the future and spends lots of energy, time and money in trying to look good, hook up, and party. The main difference between them and your stereotypical college student or young professional is that this second type spends the majority of his own energy in trying to prepare for that scary, scary future, but… wanting to party? That comes with the passport.
Another reference: el Jonan de Baraka (Jonan from Barakaldo), from the program Vaya Semanita.
Well that explains why I couldn’t understand half of what he said. I was about to get depressed about the deterioration in my ability to understand Spanish from Spain.
If you understood half of what he says, you understood more than most people!
Note for anybody trying to decipher the other videos: the Princesses are from the area near Madrid IIRC; Jokin et co live in a town next door to Bilbao so you get Spanish plus Basque-country-Spanish plus Basque plus English (weeeee!).
Thanks, Nava for all the background detail. It is real interesting. So what does “Castefa” mean?
Short for Castelldefels, a village in Barcelona’s metropolitan area.
Some political background, not directly related to any “party culture” but related to el neng and Jonan:
There is something I mentioned about el neng and which many Spaniards wouldn’t even notice, but which is a difference between el neng (and the people who created him) and Jonan; I was rereading my first post and thinking “now why did I mention that?” Oh, of course, because it’s one of those regional differences which I live with daily.
Both of them are from bilingual regions with strong regionalist / independentist / nationalist movements, whose until-recently-dominant parties were joined at the hip for a long time (CiU and PNV). Those parties, and the whole nationalist movement, had a succesful, decades long campaign to change language, including changing the meanings of “Catalan” or “Basque” so that to be one of them you needed to fulfill three requirements which had previously been unrelated: you needed to be born there, your foreparents needed to be from there, and you had to speak the language; the fourth, unspoken, requirement, was that you had to vote for them or for their more-radical siblings (ERC and HB).
But, while the Catalans have carefully left it unclear where el neng’s ancestors are from, whether he can speak Catalan proper or just barreja, and whether he has any kind of political ideology, the Basques from Vaya Semanita have made it clear that Jokin is the son of “immigrants” (mind you: from Old Castille, not exactly the other end of the world), that he can’t separate his three languages any more than he can take an arm off, and that the word “politics” itself gives him a rash almost as bad as the notion of not seeing his buga* for a month.
This includes their full names (not given for el neng, Jon Ander <-- Basque for John Andrew— García <— as Old Castillian as it gets— for Jonan) and their towns (Castelldefels has a wide mixture ranging from old money families that have been in the area since before Columbus sailed to America to working class “immigrants” from Andalusia; Barakaldo is all “immigration” and has been Bilbao’s “bad side of the tracks” for centuries - my Bilbao greatgrandmother was disowned for insisting in marrying a man from Baracaldo, even though the guy was a doctor).
- car; short for Bugatti, and a word which was already in use when my grandfather was learning to drive.