Senior Member
USA English / Peru Spanish
Hi All,

There is a song by the Chilean 80's/90's band Los Prisioneros where they seem to say:
Gamulán que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente... tangente de 45...
I remember a similar saying from my childhood in Peru, which I believe is common in the rest of Latin América: "Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente." Is gamulán another word for camarón in Chilean Spanish? Experience has shown me that shellfish nomenclature is tricky in Latin America. Any native speakers of Chilean Spanish out there, would you kindly help me understand the lyrics more clearly?

Thank you! :)
  • It'd be interesting to see what logo they use to represent their line of products. I wouldn't be surprised if they use a shrimp :)
    I live in Chile for two years and I remember that gamulán was a kind of coat, it's thick, maybe sheep-skin made of, not wool but skin. But in the song its a metaphor, but it has nothing to do with shrimp.

    This is all very interesting. And you are all indeed correct, as the following definition I ran into says:
    gamulán (m)
    n. sheepskin, skin of a sheep (especially with the wool left on)​
    Silvia, I think you are right, it seems to be a metaphor or a colloquial usage of the word.

    The question remains, though: What exactly does it mean in the song? :(
    Spanish dicho: Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.

    If you snooze, you lose.

    Gamba is another Spanish word for shrimp, Could it be a variation of this word?

    Exactly lforestier. And I, too, originally thought the lyrics said "gavilán"—which would make sense since a spaced out sparrowhawk can, theoretically, be carried away by an air current. That is not the case, though, as closer listening shows the word to be gamulán.

    Extrapolating "gambulán" from gamba seems like a stretch to me, to be honest. Not sure, though.

    Anyone know Jorge González personally? LOL

    For those of you who are clueless, Jorge Humberto González is the lead singer of the band responsible for the lyrics in question.
    This verse is a play on words, whose meaning is closely related to the Chilean context of the early 80s.

    In the early 80s Chile was under a dictatorship and in lousy economic condition, consequently the country lived in cultural and economic isolation from most of the world. Second hand clothing were some of the few things that got imported at the time, and 70s-styled gamulanes –sheepskin coats– were very common in these affordable stores and very popular to spend the cold winters in Santiago and the south of Chile. These were particularly popular among the by then rancid, folk-singing hippies, who were still the only cultural alternative to the fascist establishment –also because of the cultural isolation of the country since 1973.

    So the verse of the song, is mixing up the well-known saying (Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente: you snooze, you lose) replacing the prawn subject with a gamulán –which is also kinda funny, because the word in Spanish sounds like it is some sort of animal– meaning that the 70s and the hippies are snoozing and shall be taken away by the current –the current, of course, is the new wave of punk rock, kinda edgy and clashy, rebellious and not for peace as the hippies were.
    My undestanding is that gamulán (probably from gamuza + lana) was the name given here and some nearby countries to a sort of leather short coat that was had the looks of suede on the outside, and was furry on the inside. This agrees with what the dictionary of the house says

    gamulán® sustantivo masculino (CS) (prenda) sheepskin coat/jacket
    and with what the photos in the link given by borgonyon's message #5 show.
    K, you are right, those were Narea's words. And unfortunately I have been unable to find the lyrics of the original song by Narea from where those verses were taken...
    Your etymology of "gamuza + lana" seems good. The giant bird thing is kind of WTF (even though Narea said "we," making it sound as if the band members had discussed it). And why isn't "gamulán" in the RAE? It's been around forever, and not just in Chile either. I never knew it was a trademark.