Call me Trebots

A rather nice example of apocopation and suffixation in Catalan Spanish.

Trebonanius Gallus: completely unrelated. (Photo of the emperor at the Met <a href=''>CC</a> by Pharos.)

Trebonanius Gallus: completely unrelated. (Photo of the emperor at the Met CC by Pharos.)

A substantial majority of the people I know in Barcelona are first-language Spanish (rather than Catalan) speakers, so they tend to Trevor > Trébor > Trébol (> Trebolete). So far, so Vordafón (belated h/t to Charles for the Yoigo ad featuring Chiquito de la Calazada discussing the competition).

Enter a flamenco dancer and textile vendor from Tarragona, who has all Chiquito’s transformational trickery, but also maintains a parallel, affectionate vocabulary, in which Trevor > Trebots, her native town > Tarragots, supper (cena) > cenots, etc etc.

The mechanism is a standard one in Spanish-based argots: apocope, addition of standard suffix, with semantic deflection but without grammatical or lexical alteration. Better-known contemporary examples are -ata (drogadicto > drogata, niña > niñata (both despective)), -aca (sudamericano > sudaca (despective), pájaro > pajaraca (inflating)).

I don’t think I’ve heard the -ts transformation before, but I guess it’s a phonetic tribute to Catalan, which unlike Spanish does frequently have word-final -ts, and perhaps a tribute in particular to the plural form of the Catalan suffixes -et and -ot. (Compare for example home > homenots, coined by Josep Pla for special men, and stuff like Pierre > Pierrot in French.)

So I suppose it’s a bit like those Spanish students who parody English as it is spoked by prefixing every noun with “fucking”.

Pájaro > pajaraca reminds me of the lovely woman who one day decided it was time I learned some Spanish. “So what’s that,” I asked, pointing at a pigeon. “Pájaro,” she said. And that, I said, pointing at a sparrow. “Er … pajarito,” she replied.

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