Heike Vibrans heike at COLPOS.COLPOS.MX
Mon Jan 5 15:06:11 CST 2004

Kevin, words adopted from other languages tend to get
corrupted. They adapt to habits of pronunciation etc., in
the accepting language That is not only the case with
words adopted into Spanish from indigenous languages, but
is a rule all over the world. Just an example: the German
word "Kindergarten", meaning garden of or for children,
was transformed to the hybrid "kindergarden" in the US and
arrived in Mexiko as just "kinder", i.e. children. I
sometimes derive quite a lot of amusement from the use of
German, Spanish or French words in english-language
novels. Same for the corruption of English words in local
newspapers or German advertisement. I think we shouldn't
be too hard on each other with this. Its human. And, as
you noted, chilpotle is local in Veracruz, elsewhere in
Mexico it is also called chipotle, and thats the word that
went to the US.

The "Diccionario breve de mejicanismos" (a very nice
online site at has the
following to say (translation is mine):

chipotle or chipocle or chilpotle or chilpocle. From
náhuatl chilpoctli [implied idea: 'smoked chili' (from
chilli 'chili' + poctli 'smoke'), because the chili was
smoked to dry it].) m. Variety of chili with fruits that
are smaller than the chile mulato, of brick color and used
dried in the kitchen.

>     The thread on teosinte/teocintle causes me to wonder
>why the first "l" in
>chilpotle has been increasingly excised the farther one
>gets from rural
>Veracruz. For those who don't know this wonderful smoked
>ripe jalapeno
>(available dried or canned), I recommend that you avail
>yourselves of a
>culinary delight (in the U.S. I've only seen it as
>'chipotle'). This and other
>words make me wonder how fast it's acceptable to cause
>change in words just
>because we choose to use them in English. Some, like this
>one, seem to be
>changed with a rude abruptness. Meme taxonomists?
>Kevin Winker
>University of Alaska Museum
>907 Yukon Drive
>Fairbanks, Alaska 99775
>ffksw at

Dra. Heike Vibrans L.
Laboratorio de Etnobotánica
Programa de Botánica
Colegio de Postgraduados en Ciencias Agrícolas
km 35.5 carr. México-Texcoco
56230 Montecillo
Estado de México, Mexico

Tel. +52 (595) 95 20 200 Ext. 1335 (directo), 1331
(secretaria), 1330 (dirección)
Fax. +52 (595) 95 20 247
Correo electrónico: heike at (trabajo),
heike_texcoco at

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