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The Breakup of Spanish



     David Crow writes:
     "In my view, there's no need for alarm about Spanish-language regionalisms. I share an office with two Chileans and when there's a conflict between my Mexican Spanish and their Chileanisms, the meaning is either apparent through the context or resolved easily enough through asking. Where a Chilean would say "mina" or "galla" to mean "girl", a Mexican from the D.F. would say "chamaca", while one from Sonora would say "morra". Rather than provoke distress, they propitiate mirth and wonderful exchanges about language and communication.
     Interestingly, Mexico City --through the powerful Televisa media conglomerate, which has been one of the most successful export concerns in Mexico-- seems to be supplanting Madrid as the source for standard Spanish. A thought that would no doubt alarm the prigs at the Real Academia, but not many others.
     Naturally, the same phenomenon is happening in English. I remember seeing a Scottish movie with Spanish subtitles; they proved quite helpful!"


     My comment: Of course, vocabulary can vary from country to country, not only in meaning but in propriety, leasing to embarrassment. Once in Colombia, a woman was addressing her child as "mi pájaro" ( my little bird). Since it also meant the thugs who were killing people, I said she should not use the word. She blushed, and I wondered why. I learned that in Colombia it means the male organ.

Ronald Hilton - 2/25/00


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