In our semi-regular wordwatch feature, we take a look at a word or phrase that caught our eye, whether it’s because of its history, usage, etymology, or simply because it has an interesting history.
The Miami pitbull rapper has become a forceful presence on social media, with teens and music lovers of various ethnicities imitating and mocking his bilingual style, particularly his frequent use of the Spanish word dale.
Reading: What does dale mean pitbull
It’s unclear if pitbull fans know the origins of his catchphrase, but that hasn’t stopped them from making it a popular hashtag on social media sites like facebook, twitter and instagram. They’ve used it when talking about pitbull music, but they also quote it while joking with friends or in a party setting, almost as punctuation or slang.
olivia coyne, 15, from boston, doesn’t speak spanish, but she speaks pitbull, especially on twitter. Dale is “more than a slogan, it’s inspiring,” she says. “She just keeps working hard and don’t look back, she keeps looking at what’s ahead.”
afshin gholizade, 18, from tehran, said he knows all the pitbull lyrics and likes to dress up as the bald rapper. “It means, ‘Let’s go,'” says Gholizade, who also does not speak Spanish or have ties to Latino culture, but uses #Dale frequently on Twitter. “I learned to live in the pitbull life.”
Of course, not everyone is a fan. confusion over the word has also inspired a handful of “what does ‘dale’ mean?” queries on google, yahoo answers and spanishdict.com.
dale, like so many words and expressions in Spanish, has a fluid definition that varies between countries and cultures. pronounced “dah-lay”, it essentially means “give it” or “go ahead” in English. It can be a gesture of encouragement or a forceful demand. it’s also flirtatious, a warm lullaby of sexual invitation. has always been popular in Latino culture, but pitbull has helped introduce him to a more general audience.
On “The Anthem,” one of his many raunchy tracks, Pitbull and frequent collaborator Lil Jon yell “Hit” more than 25 times between cries of “Get nasty, get weird, you’re sexy, you’re fine.” in “take”, pitbull is even more direct. “Let me see you act like an animal just out of the cage, baby. Give it a go,” he implores him.
The softer side of Pitbull’s Dale repertoire can be found on 2011’s “give me everything,” where Pitbull raps, “I can’t promise tomorrow, but I promise tonight. Dale.” He also gives Dale the pg-13 treatment on “Feel This Moment,” his ubiquitous collaboration with Christina Aguilera. “Hey, mommy, come on, hit it,” Pitbull spits, before noting that his global success has found him “way off the beaten path.”
pitbull has widely adopted #dale on his social media accounts. Most recently, he used the hashtag while posting a photo of his honorary degree from unaccredited Doral College in Florida. he also used #dale on instagram in a series of recent posts summarizing his performance at the opening ceremony of the world cup in brazil.
The catchphrase has helped pitbull stand out in a robust market of pop stars, said jeetendr sehdev, author of the upcoming book superstar: the art & celebrity brand science.
“millennials like popular and uplifting messages that mean ‘yes,'” says sehdev. (he thinks “yolo”). “They may not understand it literally, but they understand it emotionally.”
Dolores Inés Casillas, a Chicano Studies professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said she was thrilled when she first heard Pitbull use Dale in her songs and then when her followers claimed the word on social media. Casillas said the trend reflects demographic changes and the growing influence of Spanish-speakers in the United States. but she also reminds him of her home. Casillas is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and give him desire, or “give it all,” was a frequent encouragement from her father.
“I think of it almost like this immigrant work ethic,” Casillas says. “As soon as I saw dale as a hashtag, I thought, wow, something’s working…they’re getting a feeling that’s not easy to explain.”
With his stylish suits, catchy beats and multicultural appeal, Pitbull has remained a relevant voice in the music industry for nearly a decade with a string of club hits and musical collaborations that have helped broaden his audience base. fans and its appeal. the cuban-american performer has been associated with everyone from jennifer lopez to ke$ha, and while his rhymes don’t garner the same respect as rappers drake, kendrick lamar or kanye west, his songs do very well on pop charts and stations radio.
pitbull first made a musical sensation in 2004 with his catchy hit “ass.” there was no valley to be found in that vulgar ode to gaming, but the rapper made up for the sloppiness by liberally peppering the expression in nearly every subsequent song.
he has a bit of an odd personality in the latin crossover market because he’s not cut from the same heartthrob template as enrique Iglesias or ricky martin, and he doesn’t seem as artsy as top talents like marc anthony and calle 13 is closer to the southern rapper ludacris, the guy who starts the party and gets in on the joke.
After Wal-Mart promised to send Pit Bull to the store that got the most likes during a marketing contest on its Facebook page, the rapper’s enemies staged a viral campaign to send him to Wal-Mart. remote mart possible using the hashtag #exilepitbull. pitbull made the trip and tweeted, “heard there’s bear spray in kodiak, alaska… gooooooooo!”
It’s likely that a foreign word would have taken longer to become part of the general lexicon in the past, but the nature of social media has allowed Dale to make a noticeable impact quickly in part due to Pit Bull’s many bilingual fans, said tomas gomez-arias, an expert in global branding at the university of california saint mary.
“They can take advantage of the best of both languages,” he says. “expression takes on a life of its own.”
gomez-arias, originally from spain, said he grew up with dale as a popular colloquialism. It’s become a symbol of affection, he says, but he’s not sure if Dale will ever experience the same global appeal that Pitbull has enjoyed.
“I’d be surprised to hear celine dion say that,” he says.