End of ADS-L Digest - 24 Feb 1998 to 25 Feb 1998


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ADS-L Digest - 23 Feb 1998 to 24 Feb 1998 98-02-25 00:00:16
There are 10 messages totalling 361 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Chocolate in Guatemala ???
2. hurache
3. Slimed (6)
4. WOTY Posted
5. CD-ROM dictionaries


Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 00:39:13 -0600
From: Mike Salovesh salovesh[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]NIU.EDU
Subject: Re: Chocolate in Guatemala ???

Barry A. Popik wrote:

From March 5-20th I'll be in Guatemala (no internet!), touring the Mayan
sites and investigating the origin of "chocolate." There is a safety risk,
and it was a tough choice between being robbed in Guatemala or dying from
anthrax poisoning on the New York City subways.

Now you're walking in my bailiwick, Barry. I've been doing fieldwork in
Guatemala and Mexico for many years.

If you're looking for the origin of chocolate _beans_, of course there
are some plantations in Guatemala. But if you're true to your metier,
you must be talking about the _word_ chocolate . . . and you'll be at
least a thousand miles southeast of where the word came into European
speech. Its origins are in Nahuatl, the language of central Mexico.

Nahuatl was spoken by the Mexica, the inhabitants of the city of
Tenochtitlan. They were the people we usually call the "Aztecs", and
the heart of their city became the center of Mexico City. The ancient
inhabitants of Guatemala spoke various languages of the Maya family.
Today, roughly 60% of the people of Guatemala grow up with some one of
23 extant Maya languages as their first language. As far as I know,
every single one of those languages uses some form of Nahuatl loanword
for chocolate.

Among Maya speakers, infusions of a mixture of chocolate, cinnamon, and
coffee are served on a number of ceremonial occasions, including fiesta
celebrations, marriages, curing cermonies, and other rituals. That
beverage is usually NOT called "chocolate"; the tendency is to use a
word also applied to medicine, potions, and home-brewed alcohol. When
Guatemalan Indians speak of chocolate, using either a direct loan from
Nahuatl or a form derived from the loan that took root in Mexican
Spanish, they mean the growing plant, or chocolate beans, or the mass
that comes from grinding those beans, or a heavenly concoction that is
the apotheosis of what we call "hot chocolate".

Freshly-prepared hot chocolate, Guatemalan style, IS a treat -- but the
ne plus ultra in (non-alcoholic) things to drink is called "licuada de
pin~a". You have never known the full delights of pineapple until you
eat a round of field-ripened fruit fresh picked in Guatemala or
southeastern Mexico -- and the drink made from it is an even more
delightful experience.

Who told you there's no internet in Guatemala? There are even Internet
cafes in Antigua and Guatemala City and, I think, in Flores (the base
town for visits to the great prehispanic city of Tikal). Fees are
surprisingly modest, the computers and software are adequate, and it's
easy to remain connected if you want to. I was even able to log on to
my own account back home via Telnet anytime I wished. Cafe Internet's
services were a helluva lot cheaper than calling my wife on the phone!

Take the warnings about getting robbed seriously. Keep your New Yorker
street smarts turned on at all times. Be as defensively aware of your
surroundings as you would be when walking through the borderland between
the turfs of rival urban gangs. Armed robberies happen even on the
Guatemala City bus system, in broad daylight, at that.
(Three years ago, I watched one go down on Sixth Avenue in Guatemala
City at lunchtime -- right across the street from the main police
headquarters. Things can be even worse in the boondocks, where the
robbers may actually be the cops.)

Don't get me wrong: I love Guatemala, and I will be there for five or
six weeks this summer. But I take my behavioral cues from my Guatemalan
friends. Like them, I always keep my antennae in scan mode when I'm not
in places that provide high security as one of the costs of doing

iFeliz viaje!

-- mike salovesh salovesh[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]niu.edu
anthropology department
northern illinois university PEACE !!!