November 2023 Newsletter
Are you sure you don’t speak Spanish at all?
If your first response is affirmative, think again. Even if you don’t have any Hispanic ancestors or don’t live in former Spanish or Mexican territories, you speak at least some words in Spanish (perhaps unknowingly so).
Try reading this:
- El paso del aficionado al rodeo, con su poncho colorado, es familiar en la plaza.
- La cabaña de adobe de la sierra es ideal en una nevada.
- El patio tiene buena vista y un palo alto para la bandera.
- En el corral amarillo del patio hay una iguana.
- El puma de la montaña es un animal particular.
- La plaza florida es linda.
- Mi cargo actual es vigilante de embarcadero.
Granted, you may not know the full meaning of these expressions, (see the meaning below) but you can pronounce these words fairly accurately.
In addition to the vocabulary used above, we have more than a hundred words that name places, food, celebrations, animals, etc.
Some examples are: sierra (mountain range), cabana (for cabaña: cabin), pueblo (village), patio (yard), plaza (square), embarcadero (pier, dock), cafetería (coffee place). Also: cilantro (coriander) piña colada (strained pineapple), salsa (sauce), chorizo (pork sausage), tortilla, taco, queso (cheese), etc. We also have: fiesta (party), siesta (nap), tornado, rodeo (round up), as well as puma, mosquito, iguana, armadillo, and many more.
This lexical influence is more notorious in places once colonized by Spain, some of which became part of Mexico later and are now part of our Union: California, Florida, and Texas (besides Puerto Rico, where Spanish is an official language).
In several states, many cities and landmarks keep their original names without much variation: Nevada (snow storm or snowfall), Colorado (red colored), Florida (flowered or flowery), Arizona (arid zone), Los Angeles (The Angels), El Paso (the pass), Conejo (rabbit), etc.
To a far lesser extent, Alaska and Hawaii also have Spanish influence. Alaskans have several places, originally named by Spanish explorers in the 1700s as El Capitán (the Captain), Culebras (snakes), Hermanos Islands (brothers), Sombrero Island (hat), and Port Estrella (star).
Hawaii also has been influenced by Hispanic culture, specifically from Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) who arrived in the early 1800s to help manage cattle previously brought to Hawaii from California. These highly skilled vaqueros came with their horses to teach Hawaiians their art, bringing along the use of wide hats, colorful ponchos, and accessories. Hawaiians called them Paniolos, in reference to the word español or españoles, a denomination that currently identifies the Hawaiian cowboy, very respected in rodeo arenas.
Even though we don’t pay attention, all across our nation, in our daily lives, we speak Spanish more than we even realize.
Now, let’s see the meaning of what you so easily read earlier:
- El paso del aficionado al rodeo, con su poncho colorado, es familiar en la plaza. (The rodeo’s fan, wearing a red poncho, usually walks through the square)
- La cabaña de adobe de la sierra es ideal en una nevada. (The adobe cabin in the mountains is ideal when it snows)
- El patio tiene buena vista y un palo alto para la bandera. (The patio has a good view and a high flag pole)
- En el corral amarillo del patio hay una iguana.(There is an iguana in the yard’s yellow pen)
- El puma de la montaña es un animal particular. (The mountain puma is a particular animal)
- La plaza florida es linda. (The flowery square is beautiful)
- Mi cargo actual es vigilante de embarcadero. (My current job is pier’s watchman)
Did you guess the meaning well? It is a great excuse to go deeper into it and learn that precious language properly. Don’t you think?