6.11.2006

French in Spanish

I was reading an article about producing in a language you don't understand, and learned about why there are French words in Spanish:

Mexican Spanish is peppered with bits of French due to France's occupation of Mexico in the mid 1800's when Napoleon III tried to establish a French Empire of Mexico after the Mexican American war of 1846-48.

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico's defeat of the French in 1865. But that was plenty of time for numerous French words, especially French words related to food (no surprise there) to be absorbed into the Mexican language. Yet you'll find virtually none in any of the other versions of Spanish.

I didn't know that! That is really cool, though not surprising, since language has been influenced by colonialism, occupation and other cultural/political blendings for, well, as long as perhaps humans have existed.

4 comments:

Arrogant Polyglot said...

But... but... you have no examples? I'd like to hear them!

A similar case is also true in Vietnamese. Due to the French occupation, there are, I've heard, a number of gallicismes in Vitenamese, notably with respect to food (confiture, pain).

It does makes sense that the first borrowed words would be lexical designations for food. It is, after all, harder to implant a word that already exists in the native (substrated) language.

See what you can find me, MJ.

mj said...

The article had no examples--it was about producing radio spots, not about language. But if I should have some downtime, I'm going to look into it. Too bad Languagehat's not weighing in on this.

Mad Minerva said...

There are also some bits of Spanish (and I mean especially the continental kind) which have remnants of the Moors. The expression "Ojala que" (which usually translates as "I hope that...") actually comes from the name Allah and means originally something like "May Allah grant that..." Or so my Spanish instructors told me long ago! The aural echo is clear enough, as Spanish "ojala" is pronounced "Oh-ha-la." ;-)

mj said...

Yeah, I've also heard that about the Moorish influence. Which reminds me that I should do a post about the word "farang" in Thai--it comes from Europe via traveling and trading with non-Europeans.