Trinidad Martinez, mentioned in this space a while back, took on ethnographic research for a linguistics class he took a few years ago when Prof. Carol Scates chaired the Highlands University English Department.
A native of nearby Peñasco, Martinez came up with an impressive list of words which we Spanish speakers in northern New Mexico have adopted. Surely, anyone familiar with the Spanish language has come across any number of words that we’ve somehow made fit.
For the most part, Martinez, a retired elementary school teacher, chose verbs; accordingly, for many it became a simple matter to add an -r-type ending to English verbs and thus adopt. Spanish verbs are easy to identify: the telltale “ar,” “er” or “ir” at the end helps, as in words like “pagar” (to pay), “comer” (to eat) “vivir” (to live). Is there anything in the English language that comes even close to providing the identities of verbs? “Eat,” “live” and “pay,” except for being short, common verbs, provide no clue that they’re even verbs.
So listen, my children, and you shall hear hordes of words spoken in this area that we’ve made our own. Martinez cites verbs like “roast,” “flip” and “type” to make his point. And what do many people in El Norte use to describe these actions in Spanish? “Rostiar,” “flipiar” and “taipiar.”
Martinez’s research points out that some actions don’t readily lend themselves to the Spanish adoption. And that’s where the handy word “hacer” (to make or to do) helps. An example Martinez uses is a turn-of-the-century phenomenon called vacuum cleaning. There were precious few of these Hoovers or Orecks at that time, and as the concept of sucking dirt into a canister was virtually unknown in this area, users needed to call in “hacer.” So we get “hacer vacuum,” which is a lot more plausible than “vacuumiar.”
The research Martinez delved into is too voluminous to cover here in detail, but I will cite a few of other expressions he culled out, many of which even non-Spanish speakers ought to be familiar with:
• Hacer el trai; give it a whirl.
• Dar le gas; step on it, hurry.
• Ya estufas; it’s done, it’s over.
• Tener fonazo; have fun.
• Hay te wacho; see you later.
• A toda maquina; full speed ahead.
• Dar un cruise; go for a spin.
And one of my favorites,
• Dar en la madre; to beat someone severely.
• • •
To get into the spirit of what Trinidad and I were about to present to the public via this column, I sent him an e-mail in which I said we could discuss the linguistic project at the rec center, where we both work out. Accordingly, I wrote this: “Ese Bro, hay te wacho en el gym.”
Well, his reply really outdid me, set me back, as he wrote in part, “Nos juquiamos cuando nos damos un raite a toda maquina por el treadmill.” The only troublesome word for me in Trinidad’s invitation to ride the treadmill is “juquiamos,” his word for “meet up” or “hook up.” I would have misspelled it “hookiamos.”
Maybe I’d better go back to school, attend every day and never play hookey.
• • •
Many people — with my late father leading the trumpet section — would think it abhorrent to crib freely from another language, add our own inflectional endings, and claim those words. Yes, my dad would wince once hearing “carrito” or “troquita” for car and truck.
Well, times change, and even that august Royal Spanish Academy, in Madrid, organized to regulate the language, is now considering easing the rules a bit, especially when it comes to accent marks and tildes in some of the common words in Spanish. I believe adopting these words is merely an evolutionary step, not a caste mark, even if some of the translations seem comical and possibly substandard.
• • •
What were they thinking? How does it happen that four boys, in their late teens and early 20s, congregate outside the home of two of them, and suddenly one teen gets a bullet in the face and the same bullet enters the shoulder of his brother?
That happened last Friday in Santa Fe. The shooter swears it was an accident and — as they all often say — “the gun just went off.” Fortunately, the injuries are non-life-threatening, and, even more fortunately for the 22-year-old who pulled the trigger, an official investigating the case has called the shooting accidental.
How many times have people gone to the well with the excuse that “it just went off — honest”? Only a few people were around the Santa Fe Hopewell-and-Fifth-Street neighborhood to see what happened, and my best guess it that it’ll remain classified as an accidental shooting.
Accidental, even though one of the victims may need to have part of his face replaced.
People have been saying it for years: Treat every weapon as if it’s loaded; never aim the weapon unless you intend to kill something or someone; and please don’t play with weapons. That kind of activity ought to be reserved for cowboy westerns.
Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.