By Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow
There has been some confusion as to whether or not the word toro (bull) originates from Latin. Toro is commonly believed to have come from the Latin taurus. However this is a general misconception. Like we explain in our book, The Story of Spanish (on page 10), the word toro comes from a pre-Roman language of Spain.
The Spanish philologist Rafael Lapesa writes, on page 47 of Historia de la lengua española that “The list of words of Celtic or pre-Celtic origin includes substantives that refer to the land.” He then presents a long list of words that includes puerco (pig) and toro. He explains that the two terms appear in an inscription engraved in the religious site of Cabeço das Fraguas, in Portugal, where they are written as porcom and taurom which “anticipates the latin porcus and taurus.” Read more »
Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau follow up their exploration of French with The Story of Spanish
By Marian Scott, The Gazette
The Story of Spanish
By Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, St. Martin’s Press, 496 pages, $31.99
Montreal journalists Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau are the husband-and-wife team who authored The Story of French (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), an award-winning biography of the language of Molière. Now they are back with The Story of Spanish, a popular history that recounts how an obscure dialect of Latin spoken in northern Spain crossed the sea to become the world’s third most spoken language.
The couple’s six books also include the best-selling Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, which explains the French penchant for everything from street protests to five-course meals.
As part of their three years of research for The Story of Spanish, Barlow and Nadeau moved with their twin daughters, then 6 years old, to a suburb of Phoenix, Ariz., at the height of debate over a 2010 state law that gave police unprecedented powers to track down and detain undocumented immigrants.
The authors are already planning upcoming books on Arabic and Mandarin, as well as a travel book focusing on French conversation.
The Gazette sat down with Barlow and Nadeau to explore The Story of Spanish. Read the whole article »
“We know that Spanish has given us “gringo“, “macho“, and “marijuana”, but it’s also given us the terms for filibuster, concentration camp, and the dollar as well as the $ sign, according to the new book “The Story of Spanish” by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow.” - Marsha Dubrow, Examiner.com. Read the article »
“A fascinating exploration. As Cervantes asked, can we ever have too much of a good thing?” - Marsha Dubrow, Examiner.com. Read the article »
Published in The Wall Street Journal
Cinco is as American as apple pie. So is the U.S. Hispanic melting pot?
By Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow
People who associate Cinco de Mayo celebrations with the Mexican heritage of the United States are missing the point. Cinco de Mayo was created in the U.S. for the U.S. It has always been a uniquely American way to express the identity of Hispanounidenses, the “Hispanics of the United States.”
Exactly how Cinco de Mayo turned into the signature celebration of the United States’ 52 million Hispanics is a bit of a mystery—especially since it is hardly celebrated in Mexico outside of the State of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo has no association with Mexican independence. It commemorates a battle on May 5, 1862, in which the Mexican army vanquished the well-equipped French forces of Napoleon III.
No one knows exactly why Hispanics in California began celebrating Cinco de Mayo at the end of the 1860s. Nor does anyone understand why, a century later, the Chicano movement picked it up as an expression of their demands for civil rights—although that association did make the celebration even more truly American. Read the whole article »