i think it's mostly common knowledge now that in mexico, the word "bimbo" conjures up images of bread, twinkie-like cakes, and a little white bear, rather than a vacuous, blond, and morally pliable woman. it's the name of an enormous baking industry with more than 100 food brands under its umbrella. still, i doubt any american can suppress an inner bubble of laughter every time they see a bimbo product on a trip to the grocery store. i don't think i've ever sat in traffic without seeing a bimbo delivery truck drive by, and my juvenile instincts take over every time. it's just, plain funny.
bimbo, a shortened rendering of the italian bambino, is one of the most delicious linguistic coincidences, one of many in a world where at least 6,500 different tongues are spoken. people making forays into other languages are always bound to discover treats like this, where the words sound much the same, with hilariously different meanings. and in the range of latin alphabet languages, as is the case with bimbo, homographs between the two languages can end up in the same marvelously droll situation. here are five that make me smile the most:
1. pie: unlike american apple, pronounced "pee-eh" (all in one syllable) in spanish, it means "foot."
2. mole: much tastier than eating a small burrowing animal, pronounced "mo-leh," it's that delicious sauce that often includes chocolate.
3. pez: pronounced "pes," it's far from being a sweet, nostalgia inducing candy. it's simply a fish.
4. Papa: with the same pronunciation, in spanish it refers to the pope.
5. mojo: not what jim morrison may have imagined, pronounced "mo-ho," it's a spicy or garlicky cooking sauce. then again, mr. mojo rising might not have objected to that connotation, either.
the fun works both ways, too. every time i drive past the asco machinery store in amarillo, texas, i feel that same tickle of delight. in spanish, the word asco is used to describe something disgusting or revolting. i suppose any good luddite would agree with both definitions at once.
but somehow, bimbo and it's omnipresence here manages to increase the humor a hundred fold. and the kicker for me is this: under the brand ricolino, bimbo sells a chocolate-coated corn flake candy called "kranky."
when i find myself in need of a quick cheer fix, i think to myself, "bimbo's kranky." it works every time.