Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A little translation

We all bring a bit of our cultural dialect to our blogs. Some folks from the Midwest bring a sensibility that may include lemonade and porches, some from NY may bring a sense of inner city energy. James has geographical roots in Michigan, Montana, and New Jersey. The dialects of those areas affect his terminology, too.

Me, I'm pura/pure ELA at the core. I don't think I could have lived the first 21 years of my life in one place and not have the social imprint at my core. Every once in a while I forget, or get passionate about something and there it is. East Los all over the place.

So for those of you who may read regularly, or who happened on the blog yesterday, and wondered about some fact or phrases -

Los Four - The first Chicano artists to exhibit at LACMA. It's easy to forget that for many living in Los Angeles the idea of Chicano identity, let alone the expression of art informed by that identity and culture seemed like a curious, invalid, or quaint approach to art. Judithe Hernández joined Los Four in 1974. She, Beto, and Frank are the remaining members of this groundbreaking artist collective.

Magu - Lots of stories how he got his name. Most likely is that he was studying a piece of art and someone made a comment about how he was looking like Mr. Magoo. Never asked but I would have been surprised, if not shocked, if he had not chosen to spell the name with the Spanish pronunciation of vowels.

Menudo - A stew generally including beef stomach, hominy and broth. Generally accompanied by tortillas, onions, lime, chile, and oregano. Wikipedia has a fun article on this stew. It is a stew that has to be prepared and cooked with care - when that takes place it is tasty.

Raza - Literally translated as race. The word race, and what that might mean, deserves a whole other entry another day. Raza humana, raza de oro, and raza as a stand alone can have different meaning.

Xicano - A variant on the spelling of the Chicano. One that is more connected with Mexica/Mixteca linguistic roots.

Con safos - Hmmm...in a way a bit like the word aloha or pau. Lots of different meanings. On grafitti it means "don't mess with this, or else". It could also mean whatever you to do this will have repercussions.
It can also mean this is definitive or that this is my word, this is my opinion, don't tell me how I'm wrong or inaccurate. In a curious way, it can also mean, this is what I feel deeply, there is no way you can clarify. No editing.


Paul Botello, 2009. Indiana Station, Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, Los Angeles.


  1. These last two posts of yours have sent me on a bit of a web search/internet study. Thanks, I enjoyed it.

  2. Cool. If you go to Magulandia.com you'll find 3 videos about Magu where he shares his ideas about Chicanismo and art. As an example of an interesting point is there seems to be an aesthetic appreciation (in some circles) for quilts, re: the stories they tell, the techniques that are used. He feels there could should be a similar appreciation for doilies. Lots of ideas to ponder. Ideas that seem particularly relevant in the SW.