I wonder where the word "salao" comes from. It seems to mean "very unlucky" and appears right at the beginning of Ernest Hemingway's "The old man and the sea" :
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy's parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, [...]
In Portugese "salão" means "saloon" but that can't be the origine, can it ?
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It seems to be very much a slang term in Spanish.
Have a look at the discussion at http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=416012
It seems to be a bit of a puzzle, even for Spanish speakers, as they offer different comments.
There is a suggestion that it is derived from the word 'salado', but even that doesn't really answer the question.
I've been googling the text in other languages and in Spanish and Basque, that world still remains as "salao".
..I've just looked for "salado" in my dictionary and it says:
5 MÉX [persona] Que es víctima de un maleficio - In Mexican, someone who is victim of a curse.
salao is a tiny fishing island that rarely has good news to speak of. therefore, going/being salao is to be unlucky in fishing in this context.
PuccaI've just looked for "salado" in my dictionary and it says:From wordreference.com