[LMB] GJ&RQ typo or question

Pat Mathews mathews55 at msn.com
Thu Nov 5 16:18:21 GMT 2015

> From: pp.weber at gmail.com
> Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2015 12:37:52 -0300
> To: lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk
> Subject: Re: [LMB] GJ&RQ typo or question
> >
> > >
> > >
> > >PM:  Somewhere in there, an Escobaran city called "Nuovo Valencia" is
> > >mentioned. Shouldn't the first word have a feminine ending?
> > >
> > >
> > >  LMB:  The language on Escobar is a rather scrambled creole or amalgam
> > >of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and a few other things, so it won't be
> > >following the rules of any one of them, or only randomly.
> >
> > Having said that, I'd expect that the gender-matching rules of romance
> > languages to be one of the more robust phenomena.  BICBW.
> >
> >
> Robust, yes. But we're talking names here in a living language; there's
> always historical evolution and implicit (hidden) wordings.
> In Santiago (Chile), we have city districts
> <http://diario.latercera.com/2010/09/12/01/contenido/santiago/32-38405-9-asi-nacieron-los-nombres-de-las-comunas.shtml>
> called
> "Lo Prado", "Lo Espejo", "Lo Barnechea".
> "Lo Prado" as the name of a location is completely counterintuitive, Prado
> (=meadow) being masculine, and Lo being the neutral article. It's difficult
> to explain in a language like English in which articles don't reflect
> gender, so just imagine a place called "*There* Meadows" or "*Then*
> Meadows". It rubs you the wrong way and at first glance you'd say: this is
> wrong, it should say "*The* Meadows".
> But since "Lo" is the neutral definite article in Spanish, and -o is the
> masculine/neuter word ending, even Lo Prado and Lo Espejo is way less
> dissonant than L*o* Barneche*a* with its gender mix of word endings, which
> always sounded bizarre to me when I thought of it from a purely linguistic
> POW even though Barnechea is just a proper name and doesn't mean anything
> (female or otherwise, at least not without googling it). It's like Lo
> Barnechea rubbed me the wrong way but with a steel brush. But it exists,
> it's not a typo, I'm not making it up, see here
> <http://diario.latercera.com/2010/09/12/01/contenido/santiago/32-38405-9-asi-nacieron-los-nombres-de-las-comunas.shtml>
> .
> Btw, this is the kind of stuff you only think about if you are (1) new in
> town (2) a weird poliglot kid who pays way too much attention to grammar
> and (3) extremely bored on a long commute in a pre-cellphone era and have
> run out of all reading material apart from your bus ticket. That was me in
> the eighties. True story.
> So then someone explained to me that those district names "Lo Something"
> derived from the names of *Landholdings* that got swallowed up by a growing
> city. Thus "Lo Prado" doesn't mean "The Meadow" which would be "El Prado"
> (yes, like the Museum), but comes from "Lo DE (la familia) Prado" and means
> "that which is the property of the Prado family". Or was, before it was
> sold and built over. And obviously Lo Barnechea from "Lo DE Barrenechea",
> hence the counter-intuitive mix of neuter and feminine word endings.
> Doesn't make it sound less weird, but now imagine someone explaining to
> you: my hometown (on Barrayaran South Continent) is actually really truly
> called *There Meadows* and it's not a typo on my birth certificate and I'm
> not having you on, it's short for *There Shall Be Meadows* which was the
> leitmotiv of the half dozen stubborn-as-hell founding fathers whose
> descendants are still eking out a living there growing bonsai'd skellytums,
> and if you don't like it, you can go argue with my Gran'tante Lucrezia
> VorBorgia. Suddenly "There Meadows" doesn't sound all that implausible
> anymore.
> That said, the use of "Lo" in place names isn't frequent enough to make it
> a norm, there are plenty other districts more "normally" called La Granja
> and El Bosque, so it still stands as a linguistic curiosity and a
> contravention of Spanish gender-matching rules that you probably won't find
> explained in Spanish textbooks even though it's not even unique to Chile as
> far as I know.
> Extrapolating this to a construct like "N**v*o* Valenci*a*"; and since I
> don't speak Italian nor Portuguese I'll tackle it as Nuevo Valencia in
> Spanish:
> I'd find it entirely plausible that "Nuevo Valencia" could be derived from
> Nuevo Asentamiento de Valencia or Nuevo Distrito de Valencia or even Nuevo
> Reino (Kingdom) de Valencia or, hell, Nuevo Imperio Divino de Valencia,
> with the two middle words dropped colloquially. Why not? Kareenburg went to
> Kayburg in less then a generation, didn't it? Now I leave it to you why the
> original mouthful should have been Nuev*o* XXXX*o* de Valencia and not a
> nice short Nuev*a* Valencia or just plain Valencia, but hey, such locations
> get named either by homesick people standing knee-deep in muck or by
> cartographers half a planet removed. Locals would probably have called it
> "Vale" or something:
> *Hola, ¿de dónde eres? Hola, soy de Vale.¿De Vale?Sí, de Nuevo Valencia,
> Quinto Continente de Escobar. ¿Y tú?And now poor Ivan has to make Vorbarr
> Sultana sound charming to an Escobarran or walk into another bar.*
> Since I am no linguist, just grew up trilingual, you can quote me at your
> peril. I'm robust enough as a practicing native Spanish-speaker to testify
> that Nuevo/Nuovo Valencia sounds like a linguistic oddity, but not an
> impossibility, and might even give more plausibility to the worldbuilding
> if you have a nice little back story about a cartographer with a poetic
> streak.
> P.
Ah, yes. And "Juarez, Mexico" is actually "La Ciudad de Juarez." All right! A living language full of strange things beats a textbook any day of the week. 

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