Babelmania: A Corktowner’s Glossary for the 2015 Toronto PanAm/Parapan Games




CARRYING A TORCH FOR CORKTOWN: The Pan Am Torch is passed on Sumach Street in Corktown last week. Photo by Matt Elliott

By Dennis Kucherawy, Corktown Correspondent 

With French translator Asher McKenzie and Spanish translator Stephan Dyer


Last Sunday, my wife and I were driving on Front St. E. to do some grocery shopping in our trusty 1998 Honda Civic with its roaring engine:  “A-ringy-dingy-dingy!”

On the way, I lost count of the number of pot-holes we hit, rattling our bones.  It made me think how many gold medals would it take to fill them up?

Then, yesterday, I waited forever at the corner of Queen and Bay for a Neville Park streetcar.  After 20 minutes, it arrived and my wife and I gingerly stepped through the people riding in this can of sardines they call the Red Rocket.

Well, after 30 years of riding the 501 Queen (Humber) from my Corktown home, I’ve learned a few tricks.  One was courtesy of a beleaguered TTC driver who, exasperated, once again called out “Please move to the back, folks.”

“Yeah, c’mon people,” said a shaggy, bearded street person who had last bathed to celebrate the 1976 Montreal Olympics.  “That’s it, no cooperation,” he said, “that’s all you can expect in this life,” as riders uncomfortably shifted in the heat.

“There is one person, though, one person!”

“Uh oh, here comes the Jesus pitch,” I’m sure we partners in misery thought as we braced ourselves.

“Doug Henning!”


“I’m just an average guy,” he says, “and poof!  Hey, where’d the elephant go?”

We all looked at each other, some stunned, some laughing.  Hey, this guy could play Vegas. “We’re here all week.  Try the veal!”

Today, it’s gotten worse as people struggle to make their way to the back of a streetcar crowed with SUV-sized baby carriages, buggies overflowing with bags of purchases made at cheap seniors’ day at Shoppers Drug Mart and all sorts of characters.  Many of them haven’t bathed since the Blue Jays last won the World Series.

And now we have everyone in town for the PanAm/Parapan Games to add to the congestion.

Here’s a way to survive:

In the spirit of the game’s bonhomie, smile, nod friendly-like and sweetly sing “Getting to know you / Getting to know all about you…”  You’ll be surprised how fast it clears out…and you’ll get a seat!

For our PanAm guests, sing it in Spanish:

Empezando a conocerte / empezando a conocer todo sobre ti”

As well, here’s a handy glossary of phrases in the three official languages of the Games:  English, French and Spanish.

Shake hands, kids.  Make friends.  And make sure our Guests will always remember Toronto.

Be good.  If you can’t be good, be memorable!

Glossary – PanAm Games


“Welcome to Toronto.”

Spanish translation: Bienvenido a Toronto.

French translation:  Bienvenue à Toronto!

“We hope you have a good time and win lots of medals.”

Spanish translation: Esperamos que la pasen bien y ganen muchas medallas.

French translation:  Nous espérons que vous aurez les bons temps et de gagnerez beaucoup de médailles.

“What do you think about Toronto? Please tell us we’re world class and that we’re more than just clean.”

Spanish translation: Qué piensan de Toronto? Por favor dígannos que somos más que sólo una ciudad limpia.

French translation: Que pensez-vous de Toronto? Dites-nous, s’il vous plait, que nous sommes de class mondiale et sommes plus que propre.

“How are the people of Toronto?”

Spanish translation:  Cómo es la gente de Toronto?

French translation: Comment sont les gens de Toronto?

“Sorry about the…” Maple Leafs / Raptors / Argos / Blue Jays

Spanish translation: Disculpas por los: Maple Leafs / Raptors / Argos / Blue Jays

French translation: Désolé pour les: Maple Leafs / Raptors / Argos / Blue Jays

“You say you’re from Aruba. May I have your e-mail? I’d love to have a place to crash when I visit there.”

Spanish translation: Eres de Aruba? Me das tu email?Me encantaría tener un lugar para quedarme allá cuando visite.

French translation: Tu dites que tu es d’Aruba. Puis-je avoir ton e-mail? J’aimerais bien un endroit où dormir quand je visite là-bas.

“Sorry about:” Justin Bieber / Céline Dion / Michel Buble / Phil Kessel

Spanish translation: Disculpas por: Justin Bieber / Céline Dion / Michel Buble / Phil Kessel

French translation: Désolé  pour: Justin Bieber / Céline Dion / Michel Buble / Phil Kessel

“So you’re from Mexico City. Don’t you think Toronto is too crowded?”

Spanish translation: Eres de la Ciudad de México? No te parece que Toronto está sobrepoblado?

French translation: Vous etes de Mexico? Penses-tu que Toronto est trop bondé?

“What was your winning time?”

Spanish translation: Cuál fue tu tiempo ganador?

French translation: Qu’est-ce que c’est votre temps gagnant?

Us and Them

“Hey, girly mon! Costa Rica rocks and will win the gold medal in soccer!”

Spanish translation: Hola Chiquita! Costa Rica es Pura Vida y ganará una medalla de oro en fútbol.

French translation: Tais-toi! Costa Rica es super, et va gagner la medaille d’or!


“Hello, Canoe? Please cancel our reservation.  We’re stuck on the QEW.  We haven’t moved for half-an-hour and will be late.  So, we are about to pull over and will grill our steaks on our Hibachi!”

Spanish translation: Hola Canoe? Por favor cancelen nuestra Reservación.Estamos trabados en la QEW. No nos hemos movido en media hora. Entonces, vamos a parar y cocinar los bistecs sobre nuestra Hibachi!

French translation: Bonjour, Canoe ? S’il vous plaît, annuler notre réservation . Nous sommes coincés sur l’autoroute QEW et nous allons être en retard. Donc, nous avons arrêter sur le côté de la route , et nous griller des steaks sur notre hibachi !

 Us and Them

“Is that a medal in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”

Spanish translation: Es eso una medalla en tu bolsillo…o es que estás mega feliz de verme?

French translation: Est-ce que une médaille dans votre poche, ou vous êtes simplement heureux a me voir ?

“Have you loaded up on carbs at Fusilli’s yet?”

Spanish translation: Ya fuiste a probar la pasta de Fusillis?

French translation: Avez-vous mangé des glucides à Fusilli encore?

“If I told you you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

Spanish translation: Si te dijera que tienes un cuerpo brutal, te enojarías?

French translation: Si je vous dit que vous aviez un beau corps , tiendriez-vous contre moi ?

“I hear the beaches of Brazil are teeming with some of the most beautiful men and women in the world.  Aye, carumba!  Mucho calor!  But they are not as hot as Corktown’s men and women!”

Spanish translation: Dicen que las playas de Brazil están llenas de papacitos y mamacitas. Pero no son tan sensuales como los chicos y chicas de Corktown!

French translation: J’entends les plages du Bresil regorgent des quelques-uns des plus beaux homes et les femmes dans le monde.  Aye carumba!  Mucho calor! Je parie qu’ils ne sont pas plus beaux que celui de Corktown.


“You aren’t going to play that song from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver again, are you?  You know, the one where Nikki Yanofsky  sang ‘I Believe.’  CTV played it so often it was like water torture!”

Spanish translation: No van a tocar esa canción de las Olimpiadas de Invierno del 2010 en Vancouver, no? Saben, la que Nikki Yanofsky canta “I Believe”! CTV la ponía tanto que era peor que la tortura de la gotita!

French translation: Tu ne vas pas à jouer cette chanson des Jeux Olympiques d’hiver 2010 ? Vous savez celui, où Nikki Yanofsky chantant ” I Believe “. CTV l’a joué si souvent c’était comme la torture de l’eau!

“Please tell me how to find the men’s clothing store where Don Cherry shops. I need to upholster my couch in my room in the Athletes’ Village.”

Spanish translation: Dime donde compra su ropa Don Cherry. Para llevar a tapizar mi sofá.

French translation: S’il vous plaît, me dire comment trouver un magasin où Don Cherry acheter ses vêtements. Je dois tapisser mon canapé dans ma chambre dans le Village des Athlètes .

“Try the Mexican chilaquiles at Flame Shack. The Toronto Star liked them… They’ll make you eat and feel like a champion.”

Spanish translation: Prueba los chilaquiles de Flame Shack. Al Toronto Star le gustaron. Te harán comer y sentirte como un campeón.

French translation:  Essayez les chilaquiles mexicains à Flame Shack . Le Toronto Star les aimait … Ils vont vous faire sentir comme un champion .

“I’ve heard of Mayor Rob Ford, but who is John Tory? Is Pierre Trudeau still your prime minister?”

Spanish translation: He escuchado de Rob Ford, pero quién es John Tory? Pierre Trudeau todavía es su Primer Ministro?

French translation: Je l’ai entendu parler du maire Rob Ford , mais qui est John   Tory? Est Pierre Trudeau encore votre premier ministre ?

“How many pesos for that Toronto Maple Leaf sweater? Is that 50 percent off?”

Spanish translation:  Cuantos pesos por ese suéter de los Maple Leafs? Está a 50% de descuento?

French translation: Combien de pesos pour que Maple Leaf chandail ? Est-ce que puis-je obtenir une réduction de 50 pour cent?

Us and Them

“I love Corktown!”

Spanish translation: Me encanta Corktown!

French translation: Je l’aime Corktown !

“I’ve been stuck on the QEW for five hours. Why didn’t they place porta-potties on the side of the road?”

Spanish translation: He estado trabado en la QEW por 5 horas.Por qué no pusieron baños a la orilla de la calle?

French translation: Je suis coincé dans le trafic sur l’autoroute QEW cinq heures. Pourquoi ne pas placer des toilettes portatives sur le côté de la route ?

“What does HOV stand for? High on Valium?”

Spanish translation: Qué significa HOV? High on Valium?

French translation: Que signifie pour HOV? Haute sur Valium?

“Toronto men and women are so hip!”

Spanish translation: La gente de Toronto es demasiado cool!

French translation: Les gens de Toronto sont tellement hip !


“Have the Toronto Maple Leafs ever won a championship?”

Spanish translation: Los Maple Leafs…alguna vez han sido campeones?

French translation: Avez Maple Leafs de Toronto jamais gagné un championnat ?

“Why is St. Jude the Toronto Maple Leaf’s patron saint? I don’t understand. St. Jude is the patron of hopeless cases.

Spanish translation: Por qué dicen que San Jude es el santo de los Maple Leafs?No entiendo. Es el santo de la desgracia! No ganan hace miles de años!

French translation: Pourquoi est- St. Jude le saint patron de les Maple Leafs de Toronto ? Je ne comprends pas… St. Jude est le patron des cas désespérés.


“Cool uniform. What designer are you wearing?”

Spanish translation: Bonito uniforme. Quién es tu diseñador?

French translation: Uniforme genial! Quel styliste portez-vous?

“Good luck and we hope you win, but only in the sports where Canada is not competing.”

Spanish translation: Buena suerte y esperamos que ganen! Pero solo en los deportes en los cuáles Canadá no esté compitiendo!

French translation: Bonne chance et nous espérons que vous gagnez, mais seulement dans les sports où le Canada ne fait pas concurrence.

With many thanks to my French translator Asher McKenzie and Spanish translator Stephan Dyer … two honorary Corktown folk! – Dennis Kucherawy

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