Madrid castizo

Writing today in my common place book (that’s a notebook, a journal for quotes, etc.), I looked at the past pages and found out that, exactly a year ago, I finished reading one of my favorite books ever, Fortunata y Jacinta. As I read it, I jotted down in my commonplace book  many of the jarringly beautiful words I encountered. They are “palabras castizas”, -castizas words-, castizo meaning Madridian of old. I understood their meaning by context, nonetheless I looked up many of those words in the kindle built in dictionary. I do love paper copies of books, but this one, being around 900 pages, was a good title to read on the Kindle (good size font, built in light, -I have a paperwhite Kindle-, I could take it anywhere, read without disturbing, and, press a word and read the meaning. That was priceless.)

A few of those lovely words:

tronados – worn out
acrisolado – purified by fire
bien quisto -well loved
tarasca – terrible and voracious woman
maula – something useless and despicable
mitra – meter
madapolán – from Madapolan, city in India, cotton fabric from there
miriñaque – jewelry trinket of no value, used for fun
empingorotar – acquire an elevated social position
randa – thug
pítima – drinking
arrabal – suburbia
batahola – big noise
landó – 4 wheel carriage
factón – another type of carriage
marrullería – dishonest trickery
cisco – uproar
tablajero – meat seller
monserga – talk in confusing language
truchimán – astute person without scruples
echar el quilo – sweat
zurriago – leather whip
tagarote – tall and ungainly man
mico – short tail monkey

I wrote the definitions, but I have to note that we don’t use these words in Spanish a lot anymore but other synonyms, or they have dropped from our vocabulary (some are related to non existing trades or vehicles, etc.). While a Spanish reader may understand them perfectly well, they belong to a bygone time and place, and they add something inexplicable to the story. It was painfully beautiful to read those words, and to write them down. I want to read the book again. Discovering Galdós was the best reading event of last year.

I share Anne’s love for language (in that post she talks about words that the Lake Superior University would like to see banished), and I found all her 2016 book pile exciting! As much that I ordered two of her titles,

History in English Words, Barfield, Owen

and this,

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed, Gordon, Karen Elizabeth

How could I resist such a title?

2 thoughts on “January 7th of 2015

  1. I typically prefer print copies of books too. But I have really come to like having my ebooks for some of my reading…mainly for my night time reading before bed. I now choose a handful of books as ebooks specifically for night time reading. In fact, even though most of the books I've chosen for this year's reading challenge are in print form, I am buying at least one of them as an ebook. 🙂


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