Hipsters, hipsters everywhere

depepi, depepi.com, anthropology, comics, graphic novel, cooltureta, hipster, cool, fake geek

Two days ago I went to the local comic book store to simply hang out. Since they never have what I want, and I end up buying everything online, I had very low expectations. However, I found a local comic book about hipsters in Barcelona. The comic book caught my eye because of its incredible cover:

  • First, the title cooltureta, a hybrid word composed by “cool” (from English) and “cultura” (culture in Spanish and in Catalan). The Spanish word “cultureta” refers to hipsters (literally translated as “tiny culture”), specially those localized in specific districts in Barcelona. Hipsters are young people who want to become “cool,” as geeks are, but who fail to do so: it’s all about appearances.
  • The second thing that got my attention was the second part of the title: el cómic la novela gráfica, which means the comic the graphic novel. Since the comic is all about hipsters, using the word “comic” wouldn’t be that cool, thus we find it rectified and underneath we find the cool word “graphic novel.”
  • And lastly, the pseudonym of the author “Moderna de Pueblo”, which means, literally, “the modern country bumpkin.” It refers to the classical stereotype of the country bumpkin but with some modern fashionable twist around her. Thus, the author presents herself as a “hipster”, or at least, she does it in an ironical way.

The cover is a masterpiece. Not only it portrays a stereotype graphically, but it also conveys information about its contents through the chosen wording. Even the name of the author give us hints on what she is planning to tell us in her story. We know it’s all about a hipster guy who lives in Barcelona. And we also know that the author has some things to tell us about this guy (and these might not be pleasant).

Though the word hipster is known by some in Barcelona, the words that refer to hipsters are “modernet” (in Catalan) and “cooltureta” (in Spanish and also Catalan). The funny thing about cooltureta is the mix of English and Spanish/Catalan used. Though the pronunciation of “cooltureta” and “cultureta” is the same, the way in which you write it makes all the difference: you are distinguished from the masses, you are way “cooler” than the rest.

depepi, depepi.com, anthropology, comics, graphic novel, cooltureta, hipster, cool, geek, focal vocabulary, anthropology
Pijipster, Chonindie, by Moderna de Pueblo.

These are not the only hybrid words that we can find. Another example in Moderna de Pueblo‘s work are pijipsters and chonindies, two local species that are existent within the “hipsters” group, but that are different from those who might be found in NY, for example.

  • Pijipster: a word composed by pijo in Spanish, and hipster in English. A “pijo” (peeho) is someone who buys brand clothing, and brand anything. Usually, but not always, a “pijo” is someone who has no money problems, thus, alluding to someone from a rich family origin. An international example would be “Paris Hilton.” When you mix the word “pijo” and “hipster,” you find out that there is a common sound the “hi” of “hipster” which is written with an “j” in Spanish. Thus, someone who is only focussed on brands, speaks with a certain accent, and thinks that knows a lot without knowing anything, and also shares traits with hipsters, is a “pijipster.”
  • Chonindie: a word composed by choni in Spanish, and indie in English. A “choni” is a girl who has a low cultural level, mixes all types of clothing (with and without brands), and has close to no manners. She uses too much makeup, and dies heavily her hair. If you mix her with an “indie” you have a “chonindie,” a kind of hybrid which might resemble an indie girl, but with “choni” manners and ways of mixing fashions.

Focal local vocabulary is being mixed with English words from the internet, while new English words are entering without being modified (like cool, detected, nerd, freak and alarm). This means that the influence of the internet is, finally, letting more vocabulary in than it might be thought at first sight.

depepi, depepi.com, anthropology, comics, graphic novel, cooltureta, hipster, cool, geek, focal vocabulary, anthropology
Nerd girl vs hipster girl, by Moderna de Pueblo.

Another example of importing focal vocabulary is the word “nerd,” in the American sense of it. In the image above we can see a real nerd girl and a hipster girl (“modernilla”, a negative word in Spanish for “fake nerds”). We can see the use of “nerd” as equivalent of “nerd,” and “freak” as equivalent of “geek.” In Spanish, geeks are “frikis” (a word that comes from the word “freak”). We can see the use of “freak,” in English, without any modifications, to refer to geeks. Though the author is mixing geeks and nerds, the contents explains the differences between a real nerd girl and a hipster girl.

This new focal vocabulary did not exist some years ago. In fact, the type of comics and books related to hipsters and geeks/nerds and their differences are a very new thing. In fact, the books and comics that I’ve found have been published in 2014, and are reflecting a new group in society which wants distinction from existing groups (like the geeks and the nerds). Hipsters want to be different, and do it through certain behaviors. Local hipsters in Barcelona share certain behaviors with their American counterparts, while also having very local behaviors just found in the area of Barcelona. Books and comics that are being published are just a reflection of their appearance during recent years, years in which smart phones have been a total boom in Spain. The way in which focal vocabulary is born, and its use is also very peculiar. Mixing words like this was an “aberration” some years ago, almost unthinkable. Now it seems that the fashion of mixing English and Spanish, specially in the way focal vocabulary around hipsters, is here to stay.

Note: till 2004, year I left Spain, mixing English words with Spanish ones was weird, and in some cases you were seen as a freak (in the sense of weirdo, “geek,” at the time). Now, however, with hipsters, it seems natural. While in other countries like Italy, adopting words from English was and is, not only a reality, but a natural thing (the tendency started around the 70s); in Spain it is odd. Importing words from English is not a desirable thing. The normal tendency is to translate the word or use one that already exists in the vocabulary. Despite this, hipsters seem to challenge this traditional tendency in using English words and mixing them with Spanish. To be cool is to be so using English words within the Spanish speech. This tendency is a new one. Using English words within the speech before 2004 was fatal: you were seen as a snob.

Recommended readings:

  • Cooltureta, el cómic, la novela gráfica, by Moderna de Pueblo. You can find it in Spanish and Catalan. Focal vocabulary is the same, it just changes a little bit in its pronunciation from Spanish to Catalan. There is no English version.
  • Modernet de merda, el manual, by fanbooks. You can find this book in Catalan. There is no English version.

Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com (C) Moderna de Pueblo

About pepi

A Geek Girl interested in Geek Anthropology, comic books, books, Superheroes and discovering all about pop culture.

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