The richness of centuries-old Spanish in northern New Mexico is slowly but sadly disappearing. Archaic

 words (vide/vi) and folk sayings (dichos) that we inherited from Spain are virtually gone because our

 ancestors have passed on with few heirs-apparent. But those of us who know, speak, and have taught the

 northern New Mexico Spanish dialect take solace  in the fact that Spanish has been enriched during the

 past one hundred fifty-plus years because of Mexico’s linguistic  contributions (e.g., Mexican (borlote)

 and Náthuatl terms (chilacayote), New Mexico’s own indigenous terms (oshá),  plus Anglicisms

 (flate/pint).  In addition, terms and expressions born in Hispanic enclaves such as the villages of the

 Río Puerco Valley (i.e., Cabezón, San Luis, Casa Salazar) where I spent the formative years of my life

 also helped keep Spanish alive. Today these villages, including my village of Guadalupe (aka Ojo del

 Padre), are all ghost towns, but until  seventy years ago, Spanish thrived in each one. My hope is that

my poetry helps to preserve the linguistic richness  I was immersed in during my boyhood in my valley.




aug., augmentative;   Ang., Anglicism;   Arg., Argentinian;   dim., diminutive;   fam., familiar (e.g., )

form., formal (e.g., usted);   Mex., Mexican;   Náh., Náhuatl           

Río Puerco Terms                             Standard                                English


Acafetado/a                                         color café                                brown; coffee-


agüelito/a                                             abuelito/a                                 grandpa, grandma

ahi                                                       ahí                                           there

ajumates                                              ahumaste                                 you (fam.)

burned; blacken (i.e., beans)

almorzar                                              desayunar                                to eat


almuerzo                                              desayuno                                 breakfast

amá                                                      mamá                                       Mom

amos                                                    vamos                                      we go

¡Amos!                                                ¡Vamos!                                  Let’s go!

anteojos                                               gafas                                        eyeglasses

antonces                                              entonces                                  then

asina                                                    así                                            thus; in that manner

asolapao/a                                            solapado/a                               in a crouch;


atufao/a                                               enojado/a                                 being a stuck-up;


aventar                                                tirar                                          to throw


‘bajo                                                    abajo                                        bottom

barañas                                                marañas                                   briar; cactus

barandales                                           barandales                               sideboards (on


bestias                                                 caballos                                   horses

biroles                                                  frijoles                                     pinto beans

blanquillos                                           huevos                                     eggs

bolote                                                  borlote (Mex.)                        noisy dance

bote                                                     lata                                          can; container

bulto                                                    fantasma                                  ghostly apparition      


Calientito/a                                          calentito/a                                nice and warm            

calorón (aug.)                                      calor                                        extremely hot; hot

canasto                                                            canasta; cesto              large basket; bushel    

capear                                                  saludar                                     to wave hello or


carrote (aug.)                                       coche grande                           huge car

carroza                                                 autobús escolar                        school bus

cato                                                     catorrazo (Mex.)                     blow, punch; heavy


cincerro                                               cencerro                                   cow or goat bell

cobijarse                                              abrigarse                                  to cover oneself

cojín                                                    cojín                                        cushion

colcha                                                  colcha                                      bedspread

copas                                                   bebidas                                    drinks; shots (liquor)

copitas (dim.)                                      bebidas                                    drinks (liquor)

cormillos                                              colmillos                                  eyeteeth

(form.) may believe

creigas                                                 creas                                        (don’t you, fam.,) believe it

creyer                                                  creer                                        to believe

criatura                                                niño/a                                      child; baby

crudo                                                   crudo (Mex.)                           to be suffering from a


cubeta                                                  cubo                                        bucket

culebrota (aug.)                                   culebra                                    huge snake; bullsnake


Chamis(z)o                                          chamis(z)a                               sagebrush

chilecayote                                          chilacayote (Nát.)                   gourd whose

pulp is used in making jelly

chimisturre                                          chimichurri (Arg.)                   concoction made

with leftovers; e.g., corn, meat,

potatoes, etc.

chingao                                                chingado                                 fucking; hell

chocoque                                             agrio                                        sour (beans); spoiled

chucho/a                                              chismoso/a                               busybody, bigmouth


Delantar                                              delantal                                   apron

desaigrar                                              desairar                                    to be slighted (at a

                                                                                                            dance by a girl)

desaigre                                               desaire                                     rejection, rebuff

desconcertado                                     dislocado                                 dislocated (elbow)

desgranao/a                                         desgranado/a                           removed kernel off


desmolachado/a                                  desmolado/a                            toothless

destragado/a                                        saciado/a                                 having quenched

                                                                                                            his/her/your thirst

destragar                                             saciar                                       to quench animals’


dispensa                                              despensa                                  storage shed (usually

                                                                                                            made of adobes) for

                                                                                                            perishable foods

diuno/a                                                            de uno                         belonging to oneself


Empedido/a                                         impedido/a                              crippled (i.e.,

                                                                                                            rheumatoid arthritis)

encanicado/a                                       enamorado/a                            infatuated; in love

entrates                                                entraste                                    you (fam.) entered

¡Epa!                                                   ¡Epa! (Mex.)                           Look out!

escuelero                                             estudiante                                school child

estrellados                                           fritos                                        sunny-side up eggs;

                                                                                                            fried eggs

estrenar                                                usar                                          to wear for the first

                                                                                                            time     (i.e., clothing)

(me) estrujunó                             (me) sacudió                                   it shook me


Flate (Ang.)                                         pinta                                        flat; half-pint (of

                                                                                                            whiskey or wine)

fósforos                                               cerillas                                     matches (kitchen)

frijoles                                                 frijoles                                     pinto beans


Gacho                                                  gacho                                       droopy eyelid

garra                                                    garra (Mex.)                            rag

gote                                                     gota                                         drip (water)

grandota (aug.)                                    grande                                     very large;


grandotote (aug.)                                 grande                                     enormously

                                                                                                            huge; large

gritote  (aug.)                                       grito                                         a loud shout;


guangas                                               guangas (Mex.)                       loose (shirt sleeves)

guangoche                                           guangoche (Mex.)                   gunnysack; burlap

güeja                                                   güeja (Mex.)                            head

güelta                                                  vuelta                                      turn

güeno/a                                                bueno/a                                    good


Haiga                                                   haya                                         (that) there is,

may be

hicites                                                  hiciste                                      you (fam.) did

¡Híjole!                                                ¡Híjole! (Mex.)                       Wow! Good grief!


Iscariote                                              iscariote                                   unkempt; shabby


Joto                                                     joto; (Mex.)                            homosexual; queer

Jui                                                        fui                                            I went

juyendo                                               huyendo                                  fleeing                        



Lamber                                                lamer                                       to lick (candy)

logo                                                     luego                                       then

lonas                                                    pantalones                               Levi’s; pants

lonche                                                  almuerzo                                  lunch

l’otro                                                   lo otro                                      the other


Iluvión                                                 diluvio                                     downpour


Machucado/a                                       machacado/a                           pounded (e.g., jerky

                                                                                                            on a grindstone)

malacacha                                            malintencionado/a                   mean-spirited

mascada                                              mascada                                  kerchief (worn around

                                                                                                            the neck); scarf

medias                                                 calcetines                                 socks

mercar                                                 comprar                                   to buy, purchase

metate                                                 metate (Náh.)                          grindstone

milpa                                                   milpa (Mex.)                           cornfield


Naa                                                      nada                                        nothing

Nacites                                                            naciste                         you (fam.) were born



Ocote                                                  ocote (Náh.)                            pitch; torch pine

ora                                                       ahora                                       now


Pa                                                        para                                         for; in order to

pajuelazos                                            pajuelazos (Mex.)                   shots of whiskey

pal                                                       para el                                     for the

pantera                                                pantera (Mex.)                         dapper

papá grande                                         abuelo                                      grandfather

párparos                                               párpados                                  eyelids

pataleón                                               pateador                                  kicker

pecheras                                              pecheras                                  bib-overalls

pelagatos                                             pelagatos                                 a nobody

plateaos                                               plateados                                 silver-like; silver-


plebe                                                    muchachos                              kids

polvaderón (aug.)                                polvareda                                huge cloud of dust

pos                                                       pues                                         well

posole                                                  posole (Náh.)                          dish with hominy,

                                                                                                            pork, chile, etc.


Rabones                                              cortos                                      short (pants)

rasguñazos (aug.)                                rasguños                                  scratches

rebanada                                              rebanada                                  slice (bread)

reborujo                                               reburujón                                 confusion;


redondota (aug.)                                  redonda                                   huge and round;


res                                                        vaca; idiota                             cow; idiot

rescoldar                                              rescoldar                                  to roast (chile);

                                                                                                            to stoke the fire

rumos                                                  reúmos                                     rheumatoid arthritis    


Sagrao/a                                              sagrado/a                                 sacred; blessed

salpática (Mex.)                                  sal hepatica                             Epsom salts    

salpicaos                                              salpicados                                splashed

salvao/a                                               salvado/a                                 saved

suave                                                   suave                                       nice; very good;


Tableta                                                tableta                                     Tablet (Big Chief)

tapadera                                              tapadera                                  lid (jar); iron lid to

                                                                                                            wood burning  stove

tardates                                               tardaste                                   you (fam.)

took a long time

terroncitos (dim.)                                terrones                                   tiny pieces of mud

                                                                                                            (found in pinto

                                                                                                            beans); sod grass


tijeretazos                                            tijeretazos (tijera)                    snips

todito/a (dim.)                                     todo/a                                      every bit of

toitito/a (dim.)                                     todo/a                                      every bit of

too/a                                                    todo/a                                      all

tráibanos                                             traíamos                                   (that) we were


trastes                                                  trastes (Mex.)                          dishes

trepar                                                   subir                                        to climb on (fence)

trochil                                                  trochil                                      pig sty

trompa                                                 trompa (Mex.)                         snout

túnico                                                  vestido                                    dress

tútano                                                  tuétano                                    bone marrow


Usté                                                     usted                                       you (formal.)


Vara                                                    vara                                         long slender twig

veigas                                                  veas                                         (for) you (fam.) to see

verdá                                                   verdad                                     truth

vide                                                     vi                                             I saw

viejo/a                                                  querido/a                                 dear; my love


Zacate                                                 zacate (Mex.); césped             grass

zoquete                                                zoquete (Náh.) ; barro              mud


zotea                                                    azotea                                      flat roof


Expresiones Comunes/Common Río Puerco Valley Expressions


These are expressions I heard and learned as a small boy in the Río Puerco Valley.

·         a gusto


·         al cabo que

            in any case

·         al derecho y al revés

            whether coming or going

·         a lo hecho, pecho

            what’s done, is done

·         al troche-moche


·         andando a gatas

            crawling on all fours

·         andar con la tripa clara

            to be famished, starved to death

·         ¡A poco!

You don’t say!           

·         averiguar la garra

            to stick your nose in other people’s business

·         bien ancho

really happy

·         cada vez que cae agua

everytime it rains

·         cerrado/a de mollera

            closed minded; dense; stubborn

·         clavarle a uno la uña

            to charge one an arm and a leg

·         comida echada a perder

spoiled food

·         ¡Cómo que no!

Why not!


·         de buenas a primeras

            all of a sudden

·         de casa en casa

from house to house

·         de par en par

            spread wide open

·         dicho y hecho

no sooner said than done

·         echar carreras

to race, to race each other

·         entrarle miedo a uno

            to get scared

·         en un decir amén

            in a jiffy; in the blink of an eye

·         era de los meros, meros

he was one of a kind; number one

·         es lo que saca

            that’s what he gets; he had it coming to him

·         está más viejo que, qué

he’s older than all get out

·         estar por los cielos

            to be on cloud nine; to be very happy

·         hacer juego con

to match, go well with (clothing)

·         hacerse de rogar

            to be coaxed

·         hacer unos bates

            to make a big mess; to screw things up

·         ¡Hijo ‘e la patada!

Holy smoke!

·         más contenta que, qué

happier (she) than all get out

·         meter la cuchara en el atole

to put in one’s two cents worth; to stick one’s nose in other people’s affairs

·         no hay tapa ni tapón

the sky’s the limit

·         no le hace

it doesn’t matter

·         no le importaba un pito

            he didn’t give a hoot

·         no le va ni le viene lo que no le conviene

whatever comes his or her way, it’s none of their business; it’s no concern of theirs

·         ¡No me digas!

You don’t say!

·         no pudo menos de

he couldn’t resist; he couldn’t help but to

·         ora sí que quedamos bien

now we’re really in a fix

·         pa tripa clara no hay pan duro

there’s no such thing as dry bread for an empty stomach (hunger pangs)

·         pa ver lo que no les va ni les convine

to meddle in what’s none of their business

·         poco a poquito

            little by little; bit by bit

·         ¡Qué padre!

            How wonderful!        

·         sacar la delantera

            to outdo someone; to be better than

·         salte y salte

            jumping up and down

·         se embarran con una mano y logo se limpian con l’otra

they soil themselves with one hand and then wipe clean with the other (politicians)

·         se le aflojó una tuerca

he has gone bonkers; he has lost a screw

·         ser de los meros, meros

            to be one of a kind; to be number one

·         son puro pedo y poco caca

            they’re all blow and no show (e.g., politicians)

·         tanto al derecho como al revés

            both coming and going

·         tarde o temprano

sooner or later

·         tener buen tino

to have a good aim

·         tirar chancla

            to dance up a storm

·         un pito le importaba

he didn’t give a hoot

·         va a dar en

he ends up in; he’ll end up in

·         vino bien ancho

            he was quite happy, excited