It may come as a surprise
to discover that the English and Spanish words
used to describe the size of the area in which you live do not translate exactly,
as you can see in the Venn diagram
I realised this when a student once described Fuenlabrada
, a suburb
of Madrid that counts Fernando Torres
among its sons, as a village
Which I thought was strange, as Fuenlabrada
has a shopping mall
containing many popular chain stores right next to its train station.
Sometime later I realised that the student must have been literally translating
the Spanish word "pueblo
" into English, unaware of any cultural differences.
The notion of "mi pueblo
" seems to be deeply ingrained
into the Spanish psyche
, many residents of Madrid speak fondly of returning to their "pueblo
" in Asturias, Extremadura, Galicia or wherever during the Easter or summer holidays... and those whose families have always resided in the capital
often feel a little sad
that they do not have recourse to a countryside retreat, even going so far as to purchase one of their own - or have one built! - when finances permit.
The fiestas of San Isidro in the Spanish capital
would not be complete without a few roadside stalls boasting chorizo
sausages from "mi pueblo
", even though the actual location of these sausage farms is usually shrouded in mystery.
To an Anglophone, the notion of a village
usually conjures up images of isolated rural communities
either at home or abroad. People living off the land
in a small clutch of farmhouses
where everybody knows everybody else
and where the church
and / or the one pub
is the beating heart of the community.
The most iconic internationally known village
is probably the small Gaulish village in the Asterix comic books
. Yet in their Spanish translation, the village was not translated as "pueblo" but as "aldea".
seems to be smaller than pueblo
, but both appear to be what would equate to villages
in English. Nonetheless, some pueblos
- such as the aforementioned Fuenlabrada - would also be considered towns
in the UK... and bigger than a town would be a city. Traditionally, city status was only bestowed upon
areas blessed with a cathedral, although this is no longer a requirement. More details on what makes a city a city - in Britain at least - can be found here
Of course, the word pueblo
does have an entirely different - yet inextricably connected - meaning, that of the people
... more often than not the working classes
or the common people.
When Diana, Princess of Wales
(and not "Lady D.
" or even "Laddie Dee" as many non-native speakers appear to erroneously call her) was tragically killed in a car crash
in Paris, Tony Blair
referred to her as "the people's princess
", which in Spanish became la princesa del pueblo
which - to my ears at least - made her sound like some kind of fallera
or queen of the village fiestas.
Which inevitably leads us to the Village People
, the trailblazing disco band
from the 1970s who hailed from Greenwich Village
, then THE gay neighbourhood of New York City.
Which of course was part of a city
and not a real village