“Señor Bradley’s Guide to Mouthing Off in Mexico” diverges from a work-a-day linguistic handbook in a few ways: it is unclinical and casual in tone, expressions a partisan affection for Mexico and its linguistic idiosyncrasies, and utilizes a discernible voice.
Also, accompanying many of the book’s words and phrases are handy bits of advice for navigating the random byways of the country’s customs.
Last and most important, Kim’s book is concerned almost exclusively with Mexican Spanish’s fecund, pungent subcutaneous layer, rather than the official scholastic version. Beware those who seek within its pages the means by which to engage in a genteel tete-a-tete in King Ferdinand’s court.
While it’s not a traditional how-to language book, Kim does an admirable job of organizing his slim volume into various social and anatomical categories. He starts with an arsenal of phrases and words useful during a night on the town – itself subdivided chronologically from pre-game drinks all the way through to dehydrated self-loathing the next day – and then proceeds to catalogue the epithets and nicknames commonly applied to “loose” men and women, synonyms for various genitalia, and the more base bodily functions.
Following the book’s preliminary assault upon lexicographic decency is the meat of the work, what he terms “The Big Five” – a quintet of ubiquitous and highly flexible words which can be heard tripping off the tongue of many a Mexican citizen as he goes about his day. They are, from mildly abrasive to paint-peeling (in fact, Kim gives each term 1-5 chiles, according to their strength): carajo, madre, chingar, puto and verga.