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National Insults

Lluis Bosch of Catalonia writes: "Gabacho is still widely used in Spain and Catalonia-and not always despectively- to describe the French. The Catalan version is 'gavatx' ".. Dictionaries refer to the word as "despectivo", and that is confirmed by my reading. I have read all of the magnificent "Episodios Nacionales" of Galdós, dealing largely with the French invasin of Spain, but I was not looking for the word "gabacho". This week, Spain celebrated May 2, the anniversary of the uprising against the French. Little attention seems to have been given to it this year. Presumably France is no longer viewed as the heriditary enemy.

Alejo Orvañanos of Mexico recalls a poem, presumably written by a Spaniard, which he learned as a child. It says that a Portuguese spent a lifetime trying to learn "gabacho" and never spoke it well. He was suprised to find that in France even children spoke it.

There are innumerable national insults: greaser, froggie, Jap, chink. etc.etc. In an earier posting, we referred to o study on thesubject, which shows not only popular feeling of one people toward another, but the changes in that attitude. But be careful. It is all right to say Chinaman in English, except in the US. There is quite a history behind that.

Ronald Hilton - 5/4/01