Bless Me, Ultima is a “bilingual” text in the tradition of Chicano language usage which incorporates both English and Spanish lexicon. The fact that Anaya does not directly incorporate an English translation is a cultural strategy that reflects the linguistic and cultural reality of Mexican-Americans living in the Southwestern United States. While not providing a direct/formal translation, Anaya provides a subtle translation in the context of the reading as a whole. For those who are relatively “comfortable” with the Spanish intrusions in the text, no formal translation is necessary. For those who are less familiar with Spanish, difficult words and phrases, as well as Spanish words and phrases are explained below.
The bilingualism that many, although not all, Chicano/as have practiced since early speech is not only a powerful communication tool. It allows for the diverse dimensions that each language brings to the psyche. Chicano/as have been stigmatized for not speaking English correctly and not knowing proper Spanish (see NOTE below); but language is more than a fixed set of verbal standards. It is a way of seeing the world. By having these two languages as part of their daily dynamic, Chicano/as have a unique comprehension of society. The supposed stigma may be converted into an asset. As Francisco X. Alarcón, the poet, has written in one of his poems. “A beso is not a kiss.” Words reflect conceptions of reality and do not simply translate literally.
· Ultima the last one, or the ultimate
· Está sola….ya no queda gente en el pueblito de Las Pasturas. She is alone, and there are not many people left in the village of Pasturas.
· vaquero a cowboy.
· big rancheros ranchers with large haciendas.
· tejanos Texans
· llano plains; in this case, the Staked Plains in eastern New Mexico
· Qué lástima! What a pity.
· llaneros plainsmen; plainspeople
· crudo hung over from drinking alcoholic beverages. “la cruda”=the hang over; literally
· Ave María Purísima a religious exclamation referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary; it is sometimes
Uttered when hoping to ward off evil spirits.
· Es verdad. It’s true.
· la Grande the elder, used respectfully
· adobe large bricks made of mud and straw
· El puerto de los Lunas the refuge of the Luna family; a gateway; figuratively it can mean a
“gateway to the moon.”
· curandera a folk healer
· chapas chaps, as in cowboy chaps
· molino a mill; in this case, a feed mill.
· atole cornmeal
· No está aquí. He’s not here.
· Madre de Dios…! Mother of God….! ; a religious exclamation.
· Buenos días le de Dios… God grant you good days; a greeting among New Mexican Chicano/as
· Pase…pase.. Come in…come in
· Nuestra casa es su casa. Our home is your home.
· cuentos stories told as part of folklore
· amigo! Friend!
· Andale, hombre, andale! Come on, man, come on!
· farol a lantern
· La llorona the weeping woman; a mythical character alleged to have drowned her
children, and not having been allowed into heaven, she is destined to
search the river for their souls. La llorona is an important motif of
ambivalence which, like the river, calls to Antonio and makes him
fearful. Throughout the remainder of the novel, the wailing call of la llorona mixes with the owl’s cry, the wind’s mourning, and the church bell’s tollings to both lure Antonio and to alert him to danger. La llorona is a mythic figure in Chicano/a and Mexican folklore. Many versions of the myth exist but all tend to be used as a device to socialize children, who are warned not to stray from or disobey their parents lest la llorona get them.
· Lo mató, lo mató--. He killed him, he killed him-.
· ¿Pero qué dices, hombre? What are you saying, man?
· Sala a parlor; living room.
· Un momento! One moment!
· Ya vengo--. I’m coming.
· Ya las campanas de la iglesia están doblando… Already the church bells are
· Por la sangre de Lupito, todos debemos rogar… For the blood of Lupito, we all
· Que Dios la saque de pena y la lleve a descansar… That God lift her punishment [or pain] and let her [Lupito’s soul] rest. [soul=fem in
· Hechicera, bruja Sorceress, witch.
· Es una mujer con un diente, que llama a toda la gente It’s a woman with one tooth, who
calls all the people; this is a riddle
whose answer is: the church bell.
· Arrímense vivos y difuntos/Aquí estamos todos juntos… Gather round living and deceased
Here we are all together…
· chingada the screwed one; the reference is to Doña Marina, the indian girl who
served as mistress and translator to the conqueror of Mexico, Hernán
Cortés. The figure of Doña Marina (or Malintzin/La Malinche as she
was also known) was traditionally seen as a symbol of betrayal of the
indigenous race. In recent years, however, feminist writers have
reinterpreted Doña Marina in a variety of ways—from slave victim,
heroine, and mother of the mestizo race to genius linguist and military
· cabrón a pimp, pander, cuckold; someone who takes advantage of the
weakness of others.
· Hi-jo-lah! code for “hijo de la chingada,” or son of the screwed one; an
· Ah la veca! code, or slang, referring to the penis.
NOTE: “The vast majority of Chicano/as were taught to be afraid of a certain type of English: the language of Anglos who initiated and sustained their social and economic disenfranchisement, who consciously or unconsciously instigated their traumatic experiences in monolingual Anglo schools, and who subscribed to and exacerbated the racism under which they have always lived in the United States even though they are U.S. citizens. At the same time, Chicano/as were equally intimidated by the Spanish spoken by people of middle-class or higher economic strata who come from Latin America. For how could a language of those so different experientially from Chicano/as, speak for those who have so long been denied a sense of belonging, a sense of historical ties to this nation, and indeed, to any nation?” (Ana Castillo, Massacre of the Dreamers, p. 167)
CHAPTER FOUR and FIVE
· la yerba del manso the plant of the lizard tail family; or, perhaps a plant from Manzano
· arroyo a gully
· oshá a wild celery; a medicinal plant
· Mira! Qué suerte, tunas Look! What luck, prickly pears!
· álamos cottonwood trees, which bloom in late May and early June rather than
in late summer
· manzanilla common chamomile
· mollera the membrane-covered separation between bone plates on the top of an
· chicos dried corn, usually cooked with beans.
· muy sabrosos very tasty
· ristras a string of something, usually of chile.
· cabritos, cabroncitos kids, small goats
CHAPTER SIX, SEVEN and EIGHT
· Ay Dios, otro día! Oh God, another day!
· Llano Estacado the Staked Plains, located in eastern New Mexico and West Texas
· En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo In the name of the Father, the Son, and the
· Madre de Dios! Mother of God!
· Mis hijos My sons!
· Perdon! Forgive me; I’m sorry.
CHAPTER NINE through ELEVEN
· bosque a cottonwood grove; a wooded area near water
CHAPTERS TWELVE through FOURTEEN
· ¿Qué pasa? What’s the matter?
· Ay Dios! Oh God!
· ¿Quién es? Who is it?
· La mujer que no ha pecado es bruja, le juro a Dios! The woman who has not sinned is a witch, I
swear to God!
· Chinga tu madre! Screw your mother!
· jodido one who is bad off in some way
· Mira! Look!
· ¿Qué pasa aquí? What’s going on here?
· Madre de Dios! Mother of God!
· abrazo embrace or hug
· the campo santo holy burial grounds; a cemetery
· mitote gossip; also a rambunctious dance
· Las putas! The whores!
· Ah la verga! [another] reference to the penis
· Puto! A sodomite; also, a promiscuous man
· Te voy a matar, cabrón! I’m going to kill you, you jerk!
· Hijo de tu chingada! Son of your screwed [mother]!
· Pinche! An expletive meaning damned, stingy, vile.
· Por la madre de Dios! For the mother of God!
· huevos balls, as in testes or testicles
· maldecido a cursed person
· Ay que diablo! Oh, what a devil!
· Cabronas putas. Pimped whores.
· diablas putas. Devilish whores
· sangre blood
· Dios mío! My God!
· posole hominy soup, made with chili, pork and spicy seasonings
· bizcochito homemade cookies sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon
· empanaditas turnovers, usually of pumpkin, fruit or meat
· el policía the police(man)
· maldito wicked, cursed
· desgraciado despicable
· entremetido a meddler, or intruder
· Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos-- Our Father, who art in heaven—
· bulto a wood carving of a holy person, also, a ghost
· Voy a tirar tripas--. I am going to throw up…
· gabacha a white woman
· Agua Negra Black Water
· Gracias a Dios que venites Thank God that you came!
· Benditos sean los dulces nombres. Holy be the sweet names (Jesus, Mary, Joseph)
· yerba de la vivora a snake, or a rattlesnake weed
· comancheros Indian traders
· grillos crickets
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE AND TWENTY-TWO
· el Rito Rito Creek
· Te doy esta bendición en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
· acequia an irrigation ditch
· tío uncle
· Hijo de la bruja! Son of the witch!
· Espíritu de mi alma! Spirit of my soul!
· velorio a wake to honor the dead