Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What do you know about the Spanish-speaking world?

Spanish is the official language 21 countries. Take a look at this map to see them.

A person is Hispanic if their roots extend from Spain in some form. Latinos are people that are from the Spanish-speaking world that are not DIRECTLY from Spain. So Latinos are Hispanic but not all Hispanics are Latino. Brazil in NOT a Spanish-speaking country. Though it is located in South America and borders a few Spanish-speaking nations it was settled and claimed by Portugal; therefore, the first language of Brazil is Portuguese.

There is only one rain forest in the US National Park System. It is called El Yunque and it is located in Puerto Rico. It is in the US Natl. Park System due to the fact that Puerto Rico is an Associated Civil State of the US. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the US and need no special documentation to travel the continental US.

Some Latin dances you’ll learn about this semester and others are: La Bomba, La Plena, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, el Tango, Cumbia, Durangquese. Feel free to YouTube these dances if you are curious to see them.

The Arabic/Spanish relation dates back to the year 711. Muslim empires from Saudi Arabia and North Africa occupied Spain for over 700 years. During that time some words in the Arabic vocabulary became part of everyday Spanish vocab. Examples: alfombra, almohada, aceituna, jabón, algodón, almendra, ojalá. Notice anything? The ‘al’ in some of the words mentioned stems from the article ‘the’ in Arabic. All of southern Spain was known as Al-Andalus – meaning ‘to become green at the end of summer’ in Arabic - during the Muslim occupation of Spain and is now called Andalucía.

Hopefully, you will learn quite a bit about a few of these countries during the semester. Be very careful. Some grocery stores label a certain aisle in the store ‘Spanish foods’ that are not Spanish at all. If they were Spanish foods they would be from Spain. The Spanish food aisle is designed for people of Hispanic or Latino roots. The problem is that there are so many countries that are Spanish-speaking that it would take a VERY LARGE aisle to hold the food that is eaten in these countries. Most people think all ‘Latino/Hispanic’ food is hot – it isn’t. Outside of Mexico very few countries use the types of peppers the create heat. Most are sweet or smoky and provide very little punch. You will have to do a little research on a dish of your choice later in the semester.

Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. Mexicans celebrate their independence day with el Grito in Mexico City, the nation’s capital, on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo celebrate the day the French army was fought away from the city of Puebla, but it is hardly celebrated at all in Mexico. No one in Mexico will tell you ‘Happy Cinco de mayo’: it’s just not celebrated. Mother’s day is actually a very important holiday in the Spanish speaking world. Other holidays celebrate different saints in Catholicism as well as Christmas (Feliz Navidad!) and the Day of the Dead.

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