Village Pueblo? by @linkstoenglish - Mark Venning · Profesor de inglés

Village Pueblo?

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 above.

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 or bar is the beating heart of the community.

Or was.

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". 

So 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 at all.




 

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