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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2020-08-07 22:57:02

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2431


There’s a kerfuffle (a snitter?) on twitter about a Mexican government tourist site using a machine translation into English of a number of place names, like Hidden Port, Warrior for Puerto Escondido, Guerrero, or New Lion for Nuevo León. My daughter (handled SuperHolly on the web) wondered why they were translating Hidalgo as “Noble”. I told her I understood the etymology to be from “hijo d’ algo”, literally “son o’ something”, meaning a scion of a noble family. (She added to her twitter the observation that the Mexican state of Hidalgo is named for that illustrious hero of the Independence, Michael Noble and Rib (Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla).)
Anyway, checked the etymology of hidalgo to make sure I hadn’t led her astray, and found something interesting. Here’s Wikipedia:

Since the twelfth century, the phrase fijo d’algo (lit. son of something1) and its contraction, fidalgo,[2] were used in the Kingdom of Castile and in the Kingdom of Portugal to identify a type of nobility. In Portugal, the cognate remained fidalgo, which identified nobles of a similar status to a hidalgo in Spain. […¶] In time, the term included the lower-ranking gentry, the untitled, lower stratum of the nobility who were exempted from taxation. The Siete Partidas (Leyes de Partidas), suggests that the word hidalgo derives from itálico (“italic”), a man with full Roman citizenship.[citation needed]

A derivation from itálico would be semantically and phonologically plausible, but not particularly likely orthographically (―no one that I know of ever spelled Italy Hitalia). The attestation with f/h since the 12th c militates against it, but doesn’t make it impossible. If it is true, the switch in people’s minds to hijo de algo would be an eggcorn if done in all innocence, or a pun if perpetrated knowingly. If it doesn’t derive from itálico , guessing that word is there amounts to eggcornish behavior on the part of the etymologizers.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2020-08-08 18:55:51)

*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)



#2 2020-08-10 10:44:03

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2761

Re: Hidalgo

Always fascinating to read about your forays into the “other” American tongue (quotes because it is in fact the most common American language).

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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