Perilous Journeys With A Spanish Noun

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
WW Norton
me vale madre!qué padre!madrespadremadrespadresmadre

Baker & Taylor
This exploration of Mexican language and culture examines the word madre and the evolution of its use in both the sacred and the profane and discusses the role of a creative female in Spanish society.

Norton Pub
Why is the word madre, "mother," so complicated in Spanish—especially in Mexico?
Leaping off the page with energy, insight, and attitude, Liza Bakewell's exploration of language is anything but "just semantics." Why does me vale madre mean worthless, while !qué padre! means fabulous, she asks? And why do one hundred madres disappear when one padre enters the room, converting the group from madres to padres? Thus begins a journey through Mexican culture in all its color: weddings, dinner parties, an artist's studio, heart-stopping taxi rides, angry journalists, corrupt politicians, Blessed Virgins, and mothers both sacred and profane.Along the way, a reader discovers not only an invaluable lexicon of Mexican slang (to be used with caution or not at all) but also thought-provoking reflections on the evolution of language; its winding path through culture, religion, and politics; and, not least, what it means—and what it threatens—to be a creative female, a madre.

Blackwell Publishing
Literally, a total mother or a dis-mother? How can "me vale madre" mean worthless and "ique padre!" mean marvelous? Whether your pasion is Spanish language, travel, Mexican culture, the social and biological shaping of language, or the murky logic of gender relations, you'll love Liza Bakewell's spunky and dogged pursuit of the loaded meanings of the word madre through years of wildly original research in taxicabs, at dinner parties, in artists' studios, in churches, and elsewhere.

How could madre mean whore as much as virgin? What happens to the ninety-nine madres when one father enters the room and they become a group of padres? And why can't a bien educada woman in Mexico say the word madre without raising eyebrows?

Whether questioning a disillusioned reporter friend on why his fury about Mexican politics takes on such machista dimensions, or listening as her academic colleagues launch scandalous piropos across the dinner table, or simply being a madre to her twin girls, Bakewell writes with contagious passion about the many ways in which we shape language, and how it, conversely, shapes us.

Publisher: New York, NY : W.W. Norton, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393076424
Characteristics: 222 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at SBL

To Top