Monday, August 13, 2012

Now Serving: Enchilada and Guacamole (Tracing the Spanish Origin of Some English Words)


These are just some Spanish words that English speakers have become familiar with, as these have become part of the language.

The English language is based on a number of other languages in the world. There are many commonly used words in English that have Spanish origin, such as fiesta or party, desperado, meaning desperate or amigo, meaning friend. Around the home, there is the patio or you may even live in a ranch, which is from the Spanish noun rancho. Even the weather patterns are described as El Niño or La Niña. There is also the word hurricane, which stems from the Spanish word huracan.

From romance languages
Many of these words can be traced to the romance languages, but it is widely thought that these words found their way into the vernacular, mainly through the Spanish language, rather than French or Italian. It is this similarity with Spanish that makes it quite easy for English speakers to learn Spanish.

Some of the words have become used too often; it is easy to forget that we have to thank the Spanish language for its contribution to the evolution and development of the English language.

How it came to be
One of the most obvious ways that the English language was influenced by the Spanish language is through the presence of the Mexican and Spanish cowboys. Just as the presence of Spanish speaking communities in the country continue to influence the American culture today, the language has been similarly influenced over the years.

Cowboys and vaqueros
The Spanish word vaquero, meaning cowboy evolved into the English word buckaroo. On the other hand, the English word bronco is from the Spanish word that means rough, often referring to a horse that is untrained. Just be sure to stay away from a stampede or estampida. When that happens, it’s time to vamoose, from the root word vamos.

Macho is another word of Spanish roots, originally used to refer to males, but is now an adjective to describe the overt masculinity or some men.

Another way that English has been influenced has been through the trade history between the British and the Caribbean islands. Not only were items and good exchanged, but words and cultures also were exchanged with the constant interaction of various nations.

The word cargo comes from the Spanish word cargar or load, often handled by the stevedore, from the Spanish word estibador. On the other hand, the English word embargo comes from the Spanish root word embargar, which translates to mean, to seize.

Gold may have been the metal of choice in the earlier years, but today, we trace the word platinum from the Spanish word platina or platino, meaning little silver.

One of the prime commodities during the galleon trade years was tobacco. The cigar is from the Spanish word cigarro, which is made from tobacco or tabaco. Today, one of the items often illegally traded is marijuana, which is spelled marihuana or mariguana in Spanish. Its slang word reefer, is from the Mexican word grifa.

Early traders probably came to know about an alligator, which comes from the word el lagarto, meaning lizard. The word canoe also traces its roots to the word canoa. While in the Caribbean, tourists or turistas find it nice to relax under a cabana, which is from the Spanish word cabaña, which means cabin.

Words of war
The various wars between the Americas and the Spaniards made us familiar with the Spanish navy called armada, as well as the bandolier, which is from the Spanish word bandolera. The word guerilla means little war in Spanish, and has been in use since the 18th century. Junta is another word that has found its way into the English language, just as renegade, which comes from the word renegado. Vigilante is another word, which means watchman in Spanish.

Coyote comes from the Spanish word coyote, which stems from the Nahuatl word coyotl. Llama, ocelot, quetzal, puma, mosquito (little fly) and the mustang horse are also of Spanish origin. The irrepressible cockroach is from the word cucuracha.

Food words
Some of the most familiar words that have Spanish origin are when it comes to food items. Some words in English that traditionally come from Spanish roots are delicious items such as guacamole, which is a combination of the Nuhuatl words ahuacam meaning avocado and moili, which means sauce. The word avocado comes from the Nuhatl word ahuacatl.

A garbanzo is a type of bean and chayote means squash, while flan is a delicious type of custard. With the popularity of Mexican food, English speakers are now familiar with an enchilada (which originated from the word enchilar, meaning to season with chili as well as a fajita (which is from the root word faja), which translates to a belt, similar in appearance to strips of beef or meat served in the dish and nacho.

To add some spice, there is the jalapeno pepper or chipotle. Oregano and cilantro are of Spanish origin. The sweet scented vanilla is from the root word vainilla.

Everyone’s favorite chocolate has its word origins from xocolatl, a Nahuatl word that means hot water. Another favorite beverage is the daiquiri, which is a city in Cuba, and which, coincidentally gave us the refreshing cocktail drink Mojito. Finally, everyone enjoys a shot of Tequila every now and then.

When you’re hungry, you go to the cafeteria, which means the coffee store in Spanish. Of course, nowadays, cafeterias sell more than cups of coffee.

Wonder Woman’s golden lariat comes from the root word, la reata, which means, lasso. The word lasso itself comes from the Spanish word lazo.

The constant intermingling of cultures has surely blurred the lines between languages, which is why today, someone could be described as loco or crazy, savvy (from the root word sabe meaning wise) or you can say nada when you have nothing to say.

These are just a sampling of English words that could be traced to Spanish words. There will surely be more to follow as the different cultures in the world mesh at an incredible pace, making the English language richer and vastly more complex.



Unknown said...

Your article about Spanish language is really informative. Thanks for sharing your idea with us. I have intensive knowledge about Spanish language , culture etc. I have phrasebook about Spanish language. We are making a plan to teach Spanish language for our students so that they will have sufficient knowledge about their native Spanish language.

mohit said...

Good Post! Thank you so much for sharing this pretty website.

Tommy543 said...

Every academic ghost writer you’d be assigned will make your draft available when it is completed for your review. You’d be able to suggest an unlimited number of revisions to the writing from our ghostwriting services to ensure it fully meets your expectations.