Language

Multiple languages are spoken in México, but Spanish is the lingua franca. Indigenous languages as well as others impacted not only Mexican Spanish but introduced new words to the rest of the world…

Word of the Week

Quarantine

Based in Italian, and with the same latin roots as the spanish word “cuarentena,” this word has an interesting history. It stems from “quaranta” meaning forty. In the middle ages, ships arriving at italian ports from areas known to have outbreaks of the black plague were required to keep passengers and crew on board in port for forty days. This was done to determine if anyone on board had the disease because the disease incubation period was often just under forty days.

Vocabulary

Adobe

Adobe is a type of clay which was shaped into bricks and baked in the sun. Abode bricks were a common building material in México and the southwestern United States. The word adobe originates from the Arabian word al-tuba, meaning “the brick.” In Arabic script, it is الطوبة. It entered the English language in the United States via México in the 18th century.

Ahuacatl

Without this indigenous plant, Mexican food would not be what millions, if not billions of people know and love today. The word avocado is derived from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl (ah-wah-catl). Not only does it mean the tasty, creamy fruit, but it also means testicle!

Alligator

The name of this reptile starts from the Latin word lacertus meaning “lizard.” In Spanish, it became el lagarto, also meaning lizard. It eventually morphed into the English word, alligator. Now that’s a king-sized lizard!

Bonanza

The word bonanza originates from the Latin word bonus meaning “good.” From that basis, the Spanish word bonanza was developed to mean “fair weather or calm seas” (a very good thing for merchant marines and sailors, a very significant part of the Spanish economy) as well as “prosperity.” English speakers adopted bonanza to mean something of good fortune, especially a source of new wealth, such as a recently found source of oil or gold.

Buckaroo

A buckaroo is a wrangler of the western United States. It is the anglicized form of the Spanish word vaquero, or “cowboy.” Vaquero, in turn stems from the Spanish word vaca, meaning “cow.” A fun word to say, buckaroo is a popular sports mascot along the American west coast and Canada.  

Florida

The name of this American state actually means “flowery.” When Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon arrived in present day Florida in March, 1513, he named it in honor of Pascua Florida, the Spanish Feast of the Flowers, also known as Easter!

Suave

This word is sometimes used in English to describe a person who is “smoothly agreeable or polite”. It is a direct translation from the Spanish word suave (pronounced swa-vay) meaning “smooth”.

Tequila

The word tequila is believed to come from a Nahuatl word meaning “the stone that cuts”.

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