Saturday, February 05, 2005

the world of the words

Here’s an interesting word fact that I learned recently: the word ‘avocado’ has its origins in the Nahuatl Indian language, which is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Mexico. I found it especially interesting that while we use the word in English, it never made its way into Mexican Spanish. Instead, they call the fruit (or is it a vegetable?) an aguacate, which itself sounds kind of like a word that comes from an indigenous language.

On the subject of words, one that I always get a kick out of is the word used here for ‘leather.’ They call it piel, which in Spanish means ‘skin.’ Might as well call it what it is, right? Still, I find it amusing every time I run across an ad for “100% skin jackets.”Up in the city of León, the skin capital of Mexico, they have entire shopping centers dedicated to the sale of skin products. So if you’re looking for some good buys on skin, you can go places called the “Skin Center” or the “Mall of Skin,” which you can find easily enough if you jump on the city metro line 1 and get off at the stop labeled “Skin District.” Here, you’ll be able to buy every skin product imaginable: skin shoes, skin hats, skin pants, skin jockstraps… You get the idea.

The 5th grader in me was very excited recently to come across another stimulating new vocabulary word when I was reading the paper and saw that someone had been hospitalized after suffering from infarto. My mind raced with images of all kinds of bizarre, inverted gas attacks, but as it turns out, infarto is just another word for heart attack. Still, I think I’ve decided that when I one day get around to writing my will, I’m going to stipulate that regardless of whether it’s a heart attack that eventually does me in, my gravestone is going to read: “Here lies Chad Brown. Cause of death: infarto.”

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