Friday, January 8, 2010

Yankees, Gringos, Yumas, Bolillos, Guajiros, Gabachos, Güeros, and Guiris - Concurso Etimológico (Part II)

On November 6 of last year, just a week of so after inaugurating El Yuma, I kicked off un concurso etimológico (an etymological contest).

In honor of the Yankees' victory in the World Series that had just then taken place, I asked my readers to take a stab giving the origins of three (in)famous words from the inter-American lexicon: Yankee, Gringo, and Yuma.

Over the following week I received a total of 7 responses, which I think is the most I've received yet for any single post. (I think my recipe for flan was #2!) You can click on the link to the contest above to see the responses sent in so far by Evidencias, Vic, and Sydney.

Before I reveal the winners and award prizes (yes - there are prizes - see below)! I wanted to give our new readers a chance to weigh in too.

Also, having just traveled down to Austin, Tejas, for a rockin' family wedding last weekend (that's me gettin' my groove on below) and been reminded of a whole host of other, similar "border" words, I wanted to expand this adventure a bit by adding 5 more words from the "Borderlands" lexicon - 4 of the 5 starting with "G".






Hint: At different times and places in my own life, I have been called 4 out of 5 of the above words - usually affectionately!

Rules: Please do not resort to Google or Wikipedia for help in your answers. I'm more interested in getting the unvarnished, mythic, and "urban legendary" ideas about the origins of these words. I do have my own theories - but feel free to "let 'er rip" with your own.

Prizes: The most creative, enlightening, and accurate responses will get one of my Cuban music CD compliations (I have a survery/sampler version, a bolero version, and am working on a new Cuban hip-hop sampler). Winner's choice!


  1. I love this idea of yours. I figure I'll try to rise to the challenge on one word: Guajiro.

    Some attribute this word to a bastardization of the English phrase "war heroes" as the term used by some American soldiers to refer to the Mambises who had been fighting the Spaniards and hence "the war heroes" morphed to Guajiros. Other sources, however, indicate that it is an Indian word (Siboney, Caribe, Taino, Arawak .....take your pick) which means man of the forest. My unqualified hunch is that this latter explanation is closer to the truth. I look forward to hearing from other sources.

    Iris Optaciana

  2. I bet on War Heroes, since, in "cuban" Wagon is Guagua; Microway's Microgüey, What's the Matter is Guasimara... and so on.

  3. Talking about Austin... Did you see the the bar on 6th St. with a Che Guevara poster right by the doors?
    What's wrong with those lefties?
    So here's another "palabreja": GUEVARISMO (rhymes with cretinismo).