Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun

Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun

by Liza Bakewell

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Overview

Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun by Liza Bakewell

It began with some graffiti on a wall: A toda madre o un desmadre. Liza Bakewell was in Mexico doing research for her PhD, and although she thought her Spanish was fluent, she had never seen the expression before. When she asked what it meant, she was told that it wasn't proper for a woman to use those words.

Intrigued with the way Mexicans shape their language and how language in turn shapes them, Bakewell developed a long list of madre expressions over the years. How can me vale madre mean worthless and ¡que padre! mean marvelous? Why does madre mean whore as much as virgin?

Her study is part memoir, part travelogue, and part investigation into a culture and its language.



"¡Padrísimo! No sooner does Liza Bakewell take the helm than it becomes obvious how much joy and enlightenment might come from the study of language."--Ilan Stavans, author of Spanglish and general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826351760
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Publication date: 02/15/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


Liza Bakewell is a linguistic anthropologist at Brown University.

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Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
ReadingBooksRocks More than 1 year ago
This is both a hilarious and intelligently written book, apt to bounce you along with its animated, poetic and conversational prose. One does not have to speak Spanish to enjoy this book, but love language and enjoy pondering the way language works in our lives, it's relationship to reality, and how we see the world. Much of the book deals with gender and language, how culture and society "gender-ize" the language and what impact that has on speakers' perceptions. The book is a journey through the Spanish language, especially in Mexico, although it goes into other areas as well. The intriguing part of the book is to discover that in Mexico "madre" the word for mother is a swear word, to be uttered very, very carefully, if at all. That struck me as amazing. All in all, a great read, and also short, just over 200 pages, something I appreciate because I have kids and commitments and like to read books in one sitting if possible,or big chunks of them that way. Fit in my purse. I gave it to my mom when I finished. And I bought a number to give away for the holidays. The cover is perfect, coincidentally perfect for the holidays, too.
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