ask a mexican

by Gustavo Arellano

Dear Readers: We begin, as we do each week, with cojones, although the huevos in question deal with my column a couple of semanas ago on why gabachos prefer the former term for testicles as opposed to the latter. I gave a rough etymology of the two (cojones comes from the Spanish singular cojón, testicle, from the Latin coleo — sack — while huevo actually means egg and derives from ovum). A sometimes-reader wrote in with a clarification:

A recent column contained comments on huevos as opposed to cojones. As a retired Latin teacher who is also fluent in French and moderately competent in Spanish, I offer this correction not as a quibbler, but as someone hopeful that you are always open to learning something new. The language of your columns suggests to me that that is the case. In Latin, coleus was a popular word for the testicle, and coleos habere was a proverbial expression equivalent to “to have balls [courage].” The derivation of cojon (sorry, I don’t know how to type the accent) reflects the transformation of the sound “L yod” into “j” by Latin speakers in Spain. Other examples are hijo from filius and hoja from folia. Thus the correct etymon of cojon/es is coleus. Your citing ovum as the etymon for huevo/s is, of course, correct. — Tar Hill Tory

Dear Gabacho: Gracias for the clarification, although you didn’t correct anything — you offered the plural origins of cojón, while I explained the singular. Pero chichi for tat: as I’ve previously explained but will again not just for you but for the muchos who continue to preguntar this, it’s fácil to type out all the diacritics the Spanish language uses on both Macs and PCs. To make an acute accent appear on a Mac, hold down the option key, hit the E key, release option, then type the vowel you want accented. Spanish’s other diacritics get registered roughly the same way. An umlaut appears by pressing option, hitting the U key, releasing option and hitting U again; do the same if you want a tilde, but substitute the N key for U. For upside-down exclamation points, hold down option and hit the 1 key — ‘¡voila! An upside-down question mark is a bit trickier — hold down option plus shift, then punch the question-mark key, ‘¿comprende? Microsoft Word is somewhat harder. Upside-down exclamation points and question marks require you push control plus alt plus shift, then type whatever you want flipped around. Acute accents pop up after you hold down control, then hit the apostrophe key; release and type in your vowel. A tilde: control shift squiggly mark, release, the letter N. Both Macs and Bill Gates require you hold the shift key after executing the above instructions if you want a diacritic to top a capital letter. And remember, people: no grave accents in Spanish, or tildes on letters other than n—that’s the domain of the mongrel tongue known as Portuguese.

Who is Carlos Slim Helú? — Guillermo Verjas

Dear Gabacho: Mexico’s answer to Bill Gates, except fatter, less charitable by nine-tenths, and with a monopoly on Mexico’s telecommuncations that would’ve made Rockefeller seem like a rag picker. Should focus on buying California instead of the New York Times to make the Reconquista legit.


In 25 words or less, tell me your favorite local Mexican restaurant and what makes it so bueno. I’ll soon be traveling ’round los Estados Unidos in my trusty burro to research my upcoming book on the history of Mexican food in the United States, and I need places to haunt and cacti to sleep under. One entry per person, one winner per paper, five winners total for areas that don’t carry my column, and contest ends when I say so!

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