Queen Sofía Spanish Institute: The ‘mustang’ are Mesteños and ‘alligator’, the lizard: the words that American English took from Spanish | Culture



The Spanish explorers of the sixteenth century came across the dense mangroves of Florida (USA) with menacing and gigantic reptiles never seen before by them. So due to similarity with the peninsular ones they called them lizards, a word that was introduced in English as alligator, deriving directly from “the lizard”, as it was shouted when a specimen appeared on the unstable and dangerous path of recognition. This is one of the examples that the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute ―A non-profit organization that promotes the interest of the United States in its Hispanic cultural heritage― has made public in the study How American English Has Been Shaped by Spanish (Lthe influence of Spanish in the language of the United States), taking advantage of the upcoming celebration on July 4 of Independence Day. “Gastronomy, history or architecture are great examples of the great importance of the Hispanic world in the US A tool that also reveals, and with great clarity, that Hispanic legacy that is the language. Not only because the Spanish language has been present in what is now the United States since the beginning of its history, but also because of the mark it has left on the country’s own language ”, they affirm.

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The word barbecue (barbecue) came to the homes of Americans from the Caribbean, a noun with which the indigenous Taínos of the current Dominican Republic called the wooden structure with which they cooked food. The Spanish were unaware of the device, so they adopted its name and in 1518 it already appears in documents that relate the first trips to America. Castilian speakers modified its meaning and began to use it to refer to the cooking process of food and the food itself cooked. The first English record of the word is dated 1697, although it was surprisingly referred to as “place to sleep,” no one knows why. In 1773, it began to approach in English the meaning that the Spanish had given it, and it was already referred to in their dictionaries as “social gathering in which meat was roasted.” Then the Americans changed their spelling and it began to appear as barbeque, BBQ O, Bar-B-Que, as well as other variations on the billboards of fast food restaurant chains around the world.

Like the word barbecue, the Spanish absorbed the noun hurricane (whirl, in its original), which the natives used to “refer to the great storms and meteorological phenomena”, as reflected by the chroniclers of America. With this meaning it was adopted by the Spanish in the 16th century and popularized by the English as hurricane. Tornadoes, on the other hand, were called by the Spanish in the 16th century thunderstorms or storms. As the United States is the country with the most tornadoes in the world, he adapted this word of Latin origin, return O Tronitorum; which means to twist or turn. In the 17th century, a tornado began to be identified in English with an “extremely violent whirlwind.” Finally, in the middle of the 19th century, the Americans stuck with the word, but they already defined it as “destructive rotating funnel clouds of the great plains.”

On the contrary, if Spanish explorers called the great storms hurricanes or tornadoes, they called the mild northeast winds breezes or breezes. In the 16th century, the word reached North America and became its English version as breeze.

In Spanish, bronco means rough or coarse, a perfect adjective to define wild horses “untrained that behave in an unpredictable way, usually kicking or bucking.” In English, it appeared around 1850, and in 1900 it was used to describe an event called bronc riding, in which horses (usually mares) try to knock down their rider. In the United States, those who ride or herd wild cattle are called cowboy O buckaroo. The latter term originates in the 19th century when English speakers began to venture into Hispanic Texas and California. From the point of view of etymology, buckaroo and cowboy are the same word. In Spanish, vaquero simply means “a man who deals with cows.” Craig M. Carver, author of American Regional Dialects, notes that the two words also reflect the cultural differences between Texas (cowboy) and California (buckaroo).

Lasso is the verb that defines in English throwing a rope tied to catch an animal. The tools used to achieve this are lassoes, a word that began to be used in the early nineteenth century in the United States. It comes directly from the Castilian word lasso, which was used by cattle ranchers in America to retain cattle. In Spanish-speaking America, rodeo was the process used by cowboys to herd cattle for various purposes, such as moving them to new pastures. The term was also used to refer to the displays of skills used in these jobs. This last use was precisely the one that was adopted in the cowboy tradition of the United States and Canada, giving name to the iconic shows. About 1830, the word rodeo was first used in English.

Even if mustang It sounds like an indigenous word, the truth is that it has a fully Castilian origin. Mesteños were denominated to the horses that came from Spain and that arrived at America. Equidae had become extinct in North America in the late Pleistocene and were reintroduced by the Spanish in the 16th century. The vast plains of the continent and the absence of natural predators contributed to its rapid expansion. In Spanish, since the 13th century, animals that had no known owner were called mesteños. That word was later adopted also in America and gave rise to mestengo Y mustang. The latter term is often used to refer to wild horses in general, but this is not correct, because mustang they have specific physical characteristics.

English dictionaries define stampede as “a general rout of animals in the western prairies, usually caused by fright”, as if other parts of the world did not occur. The word is a direct adaptation of the Spanish stampede, and entered English through the Mexican Spanish speakers of the 18th century. However, the Spanish noun has an earlier Germanic origin (stamp).

There are 3,700 species of cockroaches, which “disgust most people,” the report says. Since the 16th century, in Spanish this insect has been recorded as cuca, the caterpillar from which some butterflies are born. This term passed into English in the seventeenth century, and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary ―One of the most famous in the United States― places in 1616 the first known use of cockroach with its current definition. However, the report does not indicate what English speakers used to call them. Because there are, there are them before the arrival of the Spanish to America.


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