There’s an amusing popular etymology of gilipollas involving a 16th/17th century official called Baltasar Gilimón de la Mota who for the purposes of urban legend is repackaged as Gil Imón, mayor of Madrid, and provided with three daughters, pollas. Resurrected yet again here and refuted in comments by Quídam, the author hits back with the (soon-to-be?) classic R&B riposte that just because it’s wrong doesn’t mean it ain’t right.
Quídam quotes Camilo José Cela’s assertion in the stupendous Diccionario secreto that this is a compound formed of comes from gilí and a vulgar termination of polla, which remains singular despite the -s termination. Gil was a name frequently given to rustics in Spanish Golden Age theatre, not because in real life shepherds were given this name, but because Gil and Gilí are names given to idiots, tying up with the gipsyism jilí, unhappy, innocent, at which point the etymological trail blurs. So, to shear a shaggy dog, gilipollas means and meant something like “stupid dick”.
My copy of Cela is in a garage somewhere, but I think he omits one Gil who might have helped him on his way. This is Giliracho, a foul-mouthed shepherd, in the remarkable early 16th century Aragonese playwright Jaime de Huete‘s comedy called Tesorina. I take Giliracho to be a compound employing -racho, from borracho, drunkenness being a recurring theme. Maybe someone else will be able to tell me if that is likely. Anyway, here is his opinion of Citeria’s physique and morals:
Ve en mal ora,
doña golosa, traydora,
tiñosa, suzia, bellaca,
pedorra, tetas de vaca;
ojegazos de cabrón,
quartachos de sopicon!
el demonio te cohonda,
sesito de cascabel!
O cochina, berrionda,
sobacazos de aguamiel!
o patituerta, potrosa,
montón de çuzias rodillas,
ancas de burra guiflosa,
hormiguero de ladillas!
Originally banned by the Inquisition, performance now of the Comedia intitulada Tesorina would no doubt see you burnt at the stake by the Church of Christine de Pisan. I wonder if that is healthy.
Jesús Gil y Gil (1933-2004) probably didn’t find time to read Cela, but his career cleaved to the implications of his name–etymology as destiny really worked, for a change–in a way that would have made Giliracho proud. I remember him seeing him on the elephant on telly when Atlético won the double, and his Rabelaisian buffoonery and criminality deserves far more budget and creativity than the Santiago Segura flick which is his inevitable fate.
But for me his finest, his Giliracho moment came in 1991 in Las noches de tal y tal, a variety show alla Italiana which the then Mayor of Marbella hosted from a jacuzzi, often sipping a cocktail and invariably ringed by starlets copied from Berlusconi’s Canale 5 (more from Telecinco):
Zapatero got tremendously excited a couple of years back when, thanks to his economic leadership, Spanish GDP per capita briefly exceeded that of Italy. What he failed to note was that the only outstanding politician from Castilla y Leon in the late 20th century had already conclusively outdone the Italians, and without once calling a press conference to celebrate the fact. Jesús Gil’s consummate modesty aside, a statue is clearly called for, however hard it might be to justify in these straitened times. The Romans used to keep the public monument budget under control by merely swapping marble heads when the new provincial governor turned up, so I suppose we could take one of those numerous mounted statues of Franco from the storeroom and put a new head on the human and some tusks on the pony.
- Link sink for 30/05/2009
Mid-20th century Ibero-American hits, state-controlled media, the personal and the public.
- Catalan language policy: Marxist, Stalinist, Francoist or fascist?
The precedents for, and some possible implications of, the Catalanisation of Barcelona’s cinemas. Plus some crowd-pleasing video of the Quebec language
- Nationalism and the European elections, Berlusconi and the intra-Mediterranean risorgimento
Link love for 01/06/2009.
- Casanova warns Spanish authorities re sexual mores of “Swiss” immigrants to Sierra Morena, plus the etymology and origins of flamenco, and other items of interest
One of the many etymologies of flamenco is rather curious. From the typically poor Spanish-language entry in Wikipedia: Durante el siglo
- Gili Pollos
Is the name of a chicken grill in Mexico City. (For the uninitiated, pollo is Spanish for “chicken” and gilipollas is