PONS Idiomas. No fotis! Barcelona: Difusión Centro de Investigación y Publicaciones de Idiomas, 2010.

‘It includes words that don’t appear in conventional dictionaries or textbooks, because they’re taboo, politically incorrect or recently invented.’

Catalan and English as spoken in the street
Catalan and English as spoken in the streets

Indeed, No fotis! is a Catalan-English and English-Catalan bilingual dictionary of slang and vulgar speech. It’s good that someone takes their time to collect these words and expressions and share them—although they charge for it, but they need to eat too. This is a dictionary you’d use on an Erasmus or on crazy holidays, as that vocabulary wouldn’t fit anywhere else. Useful for a Saturday night, not so much for Monday morning.

Finding equivalents for slang in two languages is far from easy and sometimes you can only provide a translation in standard register, a definition or a close-enough-but-not-quite term. That’s when I might differ from the choice of the authors, who still deserve a lot of credit for the hard work and the proper equivalents. Therefore, I do recommend this book.

On the other hand and being pernickety, there are some flaws. The currency of slang vocabulary is always tricky since this register evolves rapidly. How can’t you doubt a product that mentions Messenger in its examples? How many people over 18 used it in 2010? It is complicated to publish a dictionary of so changing a part of language on a so steady support as paper.

Originality was prioritized over linguistic or terminological rigour. It being a dictionary, it’s unforgivable to mix genders in a sentence with two he, one him and two her referring to the same person—and repetition smells funny—, or to read ame instead of the obvious anem (Catalan for we go, required in that sentence). Also, both halves are not coherent or parallel or complete. Regarding breasts, there’s only jugs in English with tetes, mamelles and metes as equivalents. However, there’s only tetes in the Catalan half with knockers and jugs. Even so, the book is still enlightening and worth it.

Finally, should you own a phone in more than two colours—unlike me—, it’s available on iTunes.

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