Featured Words: April 2018

April 30, 2018 TOTOPO

Totopo is the word used in Mexico to refer to a tortilla chip, as well as other flat, round or triangular corn products that are toasted, fried or baked. It comes from the Nahuatl compound word tlaxcaltotopochtl – from tlaxcalli – tortilla, and totopochtl – a noise like thunder (something crunchy).

EXAMPLE

Los frijoles refritos se pueden servir con totopos.
Refried beans may be served with tortilla chips.

Quote

“In some cases, fried tortilla chips commercially made both in Mexico and the United States are labeled as or referred to as totopos” Wikipedia
“A veces los pedazos de tortilla fritos que se hacen comercialmente en México y los Estados Unidos se marcan como totopos – Wikipedia


April 27, 2018 NEST

As a noun, it is a structure that holds something inside, or as a verb, the act of building one, or placing something inside a protective or bigger place.  From the Indo-European nether – down, sit.  The Latin word nidus is related to the same root, and gives origin to the Spanish word, nido.

EXAMPLE

This time of year, you can see birds everywhere carrying twigs to build their nests.
En esta época del año, se pueden ver pájaros por todos lados, cargando ramitas para construer sus nidos.

Quote

“We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.” – Pope Francis
“Tenemos que evitar reducir el seno de la iglesia universal a un nido protegiendo nuestra mediocridad.” – El Papa Francisco


April 26, 2018 TORTILLA

This is a diminutive form of the Spanish word torta – cake, translated into English it would be a “small cake”.  In Spain, a tortilla is a round and flat omelette, so when the Spaniards saw the round and flat corn cakes made by native groups in the Americas, they called them tortillas, for their resemblance to the Spanish dish.  Nowadays, it is used for the Mexican version, either the original made with corn, and more recently, wheat.  The Nahuatl name is tlaxcalli – something baked.  In English, tortilla usually refers to the Mexican flat and round cakes, and the omelette from Spain is called “Spanish tortilla.”

EXAMPLE

Las tortillas españolas llevan huevo y papa, pero antes del descubrimiento de América no tenían papa, porque las papas son originarias de Sudamérica.

Spanish tortillas are made with eggs and potatoes, but prior to the discovery of America they had no potatoes, since potatoes are originally from South America.

Quote

“A sleeping bag is a tortilla for a human.” – Mitch Hedberg
“Una bolsa de dormir es una tortilla para humanos.” – Mitch Hedberg


April 25, 2018 NACHO

Nickname for Ignacio. The popular dish of fried tortilla triangles, melted cheese and peppers was invented in 1943 by chef Ignacio Anaya, who called it “Nacho’s special”, in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.

EXAMPLE

My primo se llama Ignacio, pero todos le dicen Nacho.
My cousin’s name is Ignacio, but everybody calls him Nacho.

Quote

“Life is a nacho. It can be yummy-crunchy or squishy-yucky. It just depends on how long it takes for you to start eating it.” John Updike.

“La vida es un nacho. Puede ser rica-crujiente o aguada-fea. Todo depende de cuando empieces a comerla.” John Updike.


April 24, 2018 PLANTAIN

Any cooking banana, usually big and starchy.  In Mexico they are called plátano macho (male banana) probably because of their size, although botanically speaking, all bananas are varieties of Musa sp.

EXAMPLE

Me gustan los plátanos machos fritos con poquito aceite.
I like plantain fried with just a hint of oil

Quote:

“Ripe plantains can be eaten raw, since the starches are converted to sugars as they ripen. In some countries, there may be a clear distinction between plantains and bananas, …” Wikipedia
“Los plátanos machos maduros se pueden comer crudos, ya que los almidones se convierten en azúcares cuando se van madurando.  En algunos paises, puede haber una distinción clara entre plátanos machos y plátanos, …” Wikipedia


April 23, 2018 DEMONYM

A demonym or gentilic is a word used to identify people or other characteristics of a place.  The name of a people’s language is usually the same as this word, for example, the “English” (language or people).  The word in Spanish is gentilicio.

EXAMPLE
Pedro has a Spanish accent, and being from Spain, his demonym is “Spaniard.”
Pedro tiene acento español, y siendo de España, su gentilicio es “español.”

Quote:

“Are we Michiganders or Michiganians?  The question has long ignited plenty of fierce debate, and there has never been official consensus on our state’s official demonym.” —Lee DeVito
“¿Somos Michiganderos o michiganianos? La pregunta ha prendido debates furiosos por un tiempo, y nunca ha habido consenso oficial sobre nuestro gentilicio estatal.” – Lee DeVito.


April 20, 2018  RECEIPT

It is defined as a written note, acknowledging the receiving of goods or money. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this form was adopted around the 17th Century, and before then, the word “recipe” was used instead, changing over time probably by the influence of the Latin form receit – he receives.  In Spanish, the word is recibo, literally meaning “receive.”

EXAMPLE

I received the receipt for my purchase.
Recibí el recibo de mi compra.

Quote:

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he said unto him: “Follow me.” And he arose, and followed him.” Matthew 9:9

“Y cuando Jesús pasó enfrente, vio a un hombre llamado Mateo, sentado y cobrando recibos; y le dijo: “sígueme.” Y él se levantó y lo siguió.” Mateo 9:9


April 19, 2018 RICE

This English word describes the starchy grain of the marsh grass, Oryza sativa, cultivated in warm climates and used for food.  The name comes from the Greek word óryza.  In Spanish the word is arroz, which also came from the Greek form, but via the Arabic word ar-ruzz.

EXAMPLE

El arroz se come alrededor de todo el mundo.
Rice is consumed all around the world.

Quote:

“Mexican food is far more varied than people think.  I was brought up in Jalisco by the sea on a basic diet – tomatoes, chillis, peppers of every size, and rice, which is a Mexican staple.” Gael García Bernal.

“La comida mexicana es mucho más variada de lo que la gente piensa. Yo fuí criado en la costa de Jalisco con una dieta simple – tomates, chiles, de todos tamaños, y arroz, que es un producto básico en México.” Gael García Bernal.


April 18, 2018 RECETA

The top definition in Spanish is: “A set of instructions for preparing a dish, or getting a particular outcome.”  The English word is recipe, and it was first used to refer to a medical prescription note; in Spanish, that is still a second definition for receta, sometimes more specifically called receta médica (doctor’s prescription.)

EXAMPLES:

That was the perfect recipe for disaster.
Fue la receta perfecta para un desastre.

El médico me dió una receta de pastillas para dormir.
The physician gave me a prescription for sleeping pills.

Quote:

“In the Middle Ages, a doctor’s instructions for taking a drug would begin with the Latin word recipe, literally, “take!”…” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
“En la Edad Media, las instrucciones de un doctor para tomar una medicina empezaban con la palabra en Latín recipe, literalmente “¡reciba!” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


April 17, 2018 ELOTE

From the Nahuatl word elotl, in Mexico and parts of Central America, this word describes the fresh ear of Zea mays, called “corn on the cob” in English.  In some parts of South America it is called choclo, and in Spain, it is referred as mazorca de maíz.  When the tender kernels are separated from the cob, they are called: granos de elote in Mexico, granos de maíz in Spain, corn kernels in Canada and the US, and sweetcorn in the UK.  Native American peoples also ate fresh corn, and some of their names for this vegetable are: hominy, pone and succotash.

EXAMPLE:

En México, los elotes se cuecen o se asan, y se condimentan con mayonesa, queso rallado, jugo de limón, chile en polvo y sal.
In Mexico, corn on the cob is boiled or roasted, and seasoned with mayonnaise, shredded cheese, lime juice, powdered hot pepper, and salt.

Quote:

“En Valle de Ángeles es típico disfrutar de las famosas pupusas, carne asada y los deliciosos elotes al estilo hondureño (elote con mantequilla y queso).” The Free Dictionary (ES).
“In Valle de Angeles, it is typical to enjoy the famous pupusas, grilled meat and the delicious Honduras style corn on the cob (corn on the cob with butter and cheese).” The Free Dictionary (ES).


April 16, 2018 CORN

From the Proto Indo European gerhnom – grain.  In North America and Australia the word is used for Zea mays, the cereal first domesticated by Mexican and Central American indigenous groups.  In the UK, the grain is referred to as maize, from the Spanish word maíz.

EXAMPLE

Since it is a crop from the New World, in Europe it is called by the name the Spaniards brought from the Caribbean islands: maize.  In the US, it was first referred to as “Indian corn” (Indian grain) by the pilgrims, then it got shortened to simply “corn.”

Como es un cultivo del Nuevo Mundo, en Europa se conoce por el nombre que los españoles trajeron de las islas del Caribe: maíz. En los EUA, los primeros colonizadores lo llamaron “Indian corn” (grano de los indios), que se acortó a simplemente, “corn.”

Quote:

Corn is a greedy crop, as farmers will tell you.” Michael Pollan.
“El maíz es un cultivo codicioso, como los agricultores te dirán.” Michael Pollan.


April 13, 2018 CARNE

From the Latin carnis – flesh, meat.  The English word “meat”, referring to edible flesh, was originated from Old English mete – item of food, used specifically as edible flesh starting around the 14th Century.  Curiously, the Spanish word for beef steak is bistec, directly adopted from English.

EXAMPLE

I prefer my beef steaks cooked medium.
Yo prefiero mis bisteces cocinados término medio.

Quote

“If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did He make them out of meat?” John Cleese.
“Si Dios no quiso que comiéramos animales, entonces ¿Por qué los hizo de carne?” John Cleese


April 12, 2018 PICADILLO

From the Spanish verb picar – to mince, to chop; it is a diminutive of the past participle form picado – minced.  The root is probably from Latin piccāre – to prick.  It is also the name of a popular dish, originally from Spain and now with regional versions in all of Latin America, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

EXAMPLE

En España, se usa el pimentón para el picadillo; en México, los tomates son la base.
In Spain, you use paprika for your picadillo; in Mexico, tomatoes are the base.

Quote:

“ … a sizzling pan of this pork picadillo may resemble Sloppy Joes or even those cafeteria tacos made with ground beef and spice packets. ::Shudders::” From Rick Bayless’ “Frontera” website.

“ … una sartén tronando con este picadillo de puerco puede parecer Sloppy Joes o hasta esos tacos de cafetería hechos con carne molida de res y sazonador en sobre. ::escalofríos::” En “Frontera”, la página de internet de Rick Bayless.


April 11, 2018 ZUCCHINI

This is actually the plural  of zucchino, an Italian word meaning “small squash” (zucca – gourd, squash.)  The French word courguette – small gourd (diminutive of courge) is sometimes used in English, as well.  In Spanish, they are called calabacita or calabacín, also a diminutive, from calabaza – squash.  The origin is probably from the Persian word kharbuz – melon (which is a plant/fruit from the same family).  Another name, used mostly in South America is zapallito, diminutive of the Quechua word for some squash varieties, sapallu.

EXAMPLE

En México, las calabacitas son generalmente color verde claro, y las hay largas o redondas.
In Mexico, zucchini are generally light green in colour, and there are both long or round.

Quote

“El calabacín, zucchini o zapallito es una planta herbácea anual de la familia de las cucurbitáceas, oriunda del Nuevo Mundo, cuyo fruto se emplea como alimento.” Fundación Española de la Nutrición.
“Little squash, zucchini or courguette is a vegetable annual plant of the Cucurbitaceae family, originally from the New World; its fruit is used for nourishment.” Spanish Nutrition Foundation.


April 10, 2018 CHILE

From the Nahuatl chilli, it refers to all the fruits and plants of the species Capsicum annuum.   In English, they are called chili, chilli, chile peppers, bell peppers (the round mild), sweet peppers (mild) or hot peppers (spicy).  There is a country in South America with the name Chile, but it is believed that that word comes from a Native lanuage, either the Mapuche word chilli – where the land ends; or from the Quechua chiri – cold; or also Quechua tchili – the deepest point of the Earth.

EXAMPLE

Although Chile’s shape on the map looks like a long pepper, the etymology of the word comes from one of their native languages.

Aunque la forma de Chile en el mapa asemeja un chile largo, la etimología de la palabra viene de una de sus lenguas nativas.

Quote

“My two secrets to staying healthy: wash your hands all the time. And, if you can’t, use Purell or one of the sanitizers. And the other is hot peppers. I eat a lot of hot peppers.  I for some reason started doing that in 1992, and I swear by it.” Hillary Clinton

“Mis dos secretos para permanecer sana: lavarse las manos todo el tiempo. Y si no es possible, usar Purell o uno de los desinfectantes.  Y el otro es chiles picantes.  Como muchos chiles picantes.  Por alguna razón comencé a hacerlo en 1992, y juro que sirve.” Hillary Clinton


April 9, 2018 LIBRARY

The logical follow-up form yesterday’s word, meaning a collection of written materials, or the place where they are kept.  This word comes from the Latin liber – book, librarius – related to books.  As mentioned yesterday, the word librería in Spanish is not a library, but a bookstore, from the Latin libraria – bookshop.  The Spanish word for library is biblioteca, from the Greek biblion – book and thêke – chest.

EXAMPLE

A library is not a bookstore; you borrow books, not buy them.
Una biblioteca no es una librería; los libros se toman prestados no se compran.

Quote:

“Siempre me he imaginado que el Paraiso sería una especie de biblioteca.” Jorge Luis Borges
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Jorge Luis Borges


April 8, 2018 BOOK

As a noun, it describes a bound set of pages that may be printed or blank; as a verb, it means to reserve (for example, book an appointment) or to register (book a criminal, etc.).  The word in Spanish is libro, from the Latin liber – inner bark of trees, and later, a book.  It is interesting to note that the etymology of “book” is very similar, but comes from the Proto-Germanic word Bokiz – beech, related to the “beech wood tablets on which runes are inscribed; but it may refer to the tree itself (people still carve initials on …).” [1].  A bookstore in Spanish is a librería.

EXAMPLE

I always end up spending a lot of money when I go to a bookstore; I love books!
Siempre termino gastando mucho dinero cuando voy a una librería; ¡amo los libros!

Quote:

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Ernest Hemingway
“No hay amigo tan fiel como un libroErnest Hemingway


April 6, 2018 CREAM

Both this English word, and its Spanish translation crema, come from the Old French cresme – unguent, which originated from Latin chrisma, and earlier Latin cremor – thick juice.  There are many interesting connotations for this root: the name Christ comes from the Greek Khristos – the anointed one; around the 16th Century the expression “the cream of …” started to be used to refer to “the best of …”; and of course, the thick fatty product from skimming the top of a container of milk, which was considered the best part.  In Spanish, another name for just skimmed cream is nata (also interesting, from Latin natus – born.)

EXAMPLE:

The cream of the “cream” Google search is about Eric Clapton’s famous rock band.
El primer resultado de la búsqueda de “crema” en Google es acerca de la famosa banda de rock de Eric Clapton.

Quote:

“Peaches and Cream – Chiefly US, informal : a situation, process, etc., that has no trouble or problems.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary
“Duraznos con Crema – Predominante en los EUA, informal : una situación, proceso, etc., sin dificultad o problemas.” Diccionario Merriam Webster


April 5, 2018 MOLCAJETE and TEJOLOTE

Molcajete is the well-known Mexican mortar, from the Nahuatl molcaxitl, a compound word from mulli – sauce and caxitl – bowl.  The less-known word tejolote refers to the pestle, from the Nahuatl texolotl, also a compound word from teci – to grind (related to tetl – stone) and olotl – a corn cob (shaped like one).

EXAMPLE

There is a photo at the bottom of this page, showing my own Mexican mortar and pestle (for real, take a look.)
Hay una foto al final de esta página, mostrando mi propio molcajete y tejolote (de verdad, vaya a verla.)

Quote:

Tejolote, pronounced [the-hoh-LOH-the] also known as temolote or telmalchin, is the matching hand-held grinding tool also made of the same volcanic rock or basalt material as the Molcajete. Mexgrocer.com
“El tejolote, pronunciado [te-jo-lo-te] también conocido como temolote o telmalchin, es la pieza para moler que se sujeta a mano hecha del mismo material de roca volcánica o basalto y haciendo juego con el molcajete. Mexgrocer.com


April 4, 2018 NAFTA

This is the Spanish word for car fuel in some Latin American countries, although in Mexico it is called gasolina.  I though of it because of my blog post about the North American Free Trade Agreement, with the acronym NAFTA.  Is it not ironic that petroleum is a big issue in NAFTA negotiations?  Even more ironic, in Spanish the trade agreement is called Tratado de Libre Comercio, or TLC (also an acronym for Tender Loving Care, LOL).

Today, the paragraph above is the example itself, and you can quote me on that, as well!


April 3, 2018 ASPARAGUS

This modern English word is directly the Latin form to describe the plant and edible shoots of Asparagus officinalis, although before the 1400s, the English word was “asperages” or “aspergy,” and after the 16th and 17th centuries, it changed to “sparage”, from the Medieval Latin sparagus.  This term itself derives from the Greek asparagos, maybe from the Persian asparag – sprout, or shoot.  In Spanish the word is espárrago, which very likely came directly from the Greek form.  In some places in the US, it was known as “sparrow grass” and “asper grass.”

EXAMPLE

Asparagus are served warm or cold, and often with sauces, such as hollandaise”
“Los espárragos se sirven calientes o fríos, y con frecuencia con salsas, como la holandesa”

Quote:

“In the Netherlands the first cutting coincides with Father’s Day, on which restaurants may feature all-asparagus menus and hand out neckties decorated with asparagus spears.” Barbara Kingsolver
“En los países Bajos, la primera cosecha coincide con el día del padre, en que los restaurantes suelen presentar menús de solo espárragos, y ofrecer corbatas decoradas con puntas de espárrago.” Barbara Kingsolver.


April 2, 2018 GARLIC

Garlic is a plant of the lily family, along with onions, shallots and chives.  The etymology of the word speaks of its relatively young history in Europe, where it was first introduced by crusaders; it comes from Old English gār – spear and lēac – leek.  It is believed the cultivated garlic is originally from Asia and Iran (Persia).  Although it was recognized as an important medicinal herb in Egypt and Greece, it was not used as a condiment until much later.  In Spanish it is called ajo, from the Latin – allium.

EXAMPLE:

In cold climate, plant garlic in the fall; more temperate areas allow garlic to thrive if planted in the spring.
En clima frío, sembrar ajo en el otoño; regiones más templadas permiten que el ajo prospere cuando se siembra en la primavera.

Quote:

“Greeks wishing to enter the temple of Cybele had to pass a garlic breath test.” The History of Garlic @Grey Duck Garlic
“Los griegos que quisieran entrar al templo de la Cibeles tenían que pasar una prueba de aliento a ajo.” Historia del ajo @Grey Duck Garlic


April 1, 2018 VEGETABLE

It was initially introduced to the English language in the early 15th century as an adjective, derived from Latin vegetus – vigorous, enlivened; used to describe something “capable of growing, neither animal or mineral” and not necessarily an edible.  It was in the mid 15th century that it morphed to a noun to describe a “plant cultivated for food, edible herb or root” [1].  In Spanish the word is vegetal, although at least in Mexico a more common word is verdura, directly from the word verde – green; it started as a popular way to refer to green vegetables, but extended to any edible plant products [2].

EXAMPLE

“Las frutas y verduras se venden frescas en el mercado todos los días”
“Fruits and vegetables are sold fresh at the market every day”

Quote:

“We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu” Michelle Obama

“Podemos comprometernos a promover verduras y frutas y granos integrales en cada parte de cada menú” Michelle Obama


 

 

 

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