That Pocho thang again

I am ocassionally given to the reading of books which I, more often than not, peruse more than finish when the need arises to let time pass by in an adequate manner. So whenever I find myself answering the calls of mother nature I am of the habit of calmly answering it whilst I read a few paragraphs here and there. I also, whenever I have a chance, crack open a book at the library or the bookstore to see what a sentence might have in it. I am also of the disposition to take books with me to places where I know I shall be spending some time in idleness. It is a chore which I have acquiered through the years and one that has proven to be quite the rewarding one least to say a satisfactory one. Indeed, I have a chock-full bookcase of books in my library that are waiting for my eyes for this very chore, at times, I suspect, unpatiently since everytime I happen to pass by there I receive this eerie sensation of being drawn to them to comply with the promise I made them once they arrived to their current place in my humble library of no more than a 1000 volumes of which I have read no more than 200. It is a curios thing that once the coveted book has reached its goal to tend to gather more dust than use. Although, truth be told, I make the commitment of opening them every now and then to remind me of their position in the bookshelf. Such was the case of the only spanish book I have on Chicanos and why I started all this in the fashion I have done so.

Tino Villanueva, Chicanos (selección) Lecturas 89 Mexicanas Cultura SEP 1985.

I was rather surprised to find the following information regards Pochos on page 11 & 12 while I awaited my daughters to finish their swimming lessons, here on the Swedish Highlands one rather windy and partly cloudy day last week. Tino begins as thus: (loose translation):

I will open a long parentheses to discuss the term Pocho which according to Ramos I. Duarte, the first one to prove it, is derived from the Sonora ( a state along the Southwest border) word pochi (adj) which means “[c]orto (short) ; rabón (tail-less). Unos pantalones pochis cortos (short). Un perro pochi: rabón.” (Feliz Ramos I. Duarte, Diccionario de mejicanismos: Collección de locuciones i frases viciosas, Imprenta de Eduardo Dublín. México, 1895, p.408). And here we find the same definition half a century later by Francisco J. Santamaría in his respected Diccionario genreal de americansimos, first edition, II volume, Editorial Pedro Robredo, México, 1942:

Poche, cha m. y f. Name with which northamericans of spanish extraction, specially mexicans, are designated, in the south of the United States, particularly in California. (In Mexico the most common thing to say is pocho or pocha and it doesn’t present itself to be too odd that its origen stem from pochio, a sonorismo (from Sonora) which very likely stems from the yaqui; also meaning short in limitations. More clearly, stupid) 2.Corrupted spanish, a mix of english and worst spanish which northamericans and foreign residents of spanish origin speak, mainly mexicans, in California (USA) [pp. 504-505]

A similar definition added to a more ample, clearer explanation with a linguistic and historic link and that I shall now gloss is that of Horacio Sobarzo (Vocabulario sonorense, Editorial Porrúa, México, 1966, pp. 258-259). He considers the word pochi (pocho) an “authentic sonorismo” and traces it to two autochtonous sources. In its first sense, Pocho “originates from the ópata potzico, which means to cut, to yank weed or grass; potzi, very simply, has the connotation of cutting or recutting, anything […] and the particle tzi once adapted to the spanish phonetic system sounds like chi. Potzico in the middle of the 19th century meant metaphorically “ the art of yanking weed” in reference to the “compatriot which was yanked from our nationality”. On the other hand , the idiom which connotes a tailless animal is derived from another ópata word: tacopotzi which means without a tail. In short, the ethymological evolution of our word has two potential autochtonous sources: 1) potzico > potzi > pochi > pocho. 2) tacopotzi > potzi > pochi > pocho.
Though dictionaries assign Pocho the meaning of discolored, colored crackled, Sobarzo affirms that “within the pochi classification it was to be understood as well all of those that, inasmuch weed was, were yanked of their nationality and had the same fortune of that territorial portion which se pocho from our country, whites, blonds, blacks, morenos, colored and discolored”.

In another passage I also read that Pocho is older than Chicano. I read the following, in english too! this snippet by Américo Paredes: It was tthe barrio that produced the pocho, the early version of Chicano” … (Hey! Those 3 dots mean I am tired of translating) Further more I also read that José Vasconcelos confirmed that in the California of the 30’s pocho was already in use to mean those who deny their blood, dang.

Well, that explains that, doesn’t it!

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