Hola Queridx

Back on 3/4 on Facebook, from Peruvian linguist Ernesto Cuba, with a photo of him

[Cuba phrase] con mi queridx Iván Villanueva Jordán, traductor queer … lingüistica marica


(#1) Ernesto (right) with his Peruvian student Iván (who’s studied drag queens in Lima)

(Google at the time didn’t try to translate queridx but translated lingüistica marica as ‘faggot linguistics’)

Cuba’s queridx posting led me to discover Dario Cocimano’s song “Hola Queridx” from his 2018 Digno album —

(#2)

— and so to query Cuba about the linguistic usages involved.

On Ernesto Cuba. From the Graduate Center of CUNY on the Academia site (from, I think, 2018):

Ernesto Cuba is a second-year student in the Hispanic Linguistics doctoral program within the department of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at The Graduate Center (CUNY). He earned a BA in Linguistics and a Diploma in Gender Studies at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. Ernesto is interested in the sociolinguistic practices of queer Spanish-speaking communities and the politics of language related to Spanish and indigenous languages spoken in Peru. He is a feminist, LGBTQ activist, and is involved in activist and academic organizations and networks of LGBTQ people of color. He wrote the “Guidelines for the use of non-sexist language: If you don’t name me, I don’t exist” for the Government of Peru (2013).

(Cuba addresses me as Arnold, and I address him as Ernesto, and that’s the way I’ll talk about him from now on.)

As of 4/6, he’s been working at Universidad Peruana de ciencas Aplicadas on the San Isidro campus, living in Lima (and reporting on Facebook every so often on the lgbtq scene and the pandemic in Lima).

mi querido. In my 3/8/20 posting “Where is the fishmonger?”, there’s an image of one man in a sling (Alex) being taken carnally by another (Dakota); the image is attached, absurdly, to a dialogue for learners of Spanish, from which the relevant line is, from Alex:

Pero te deseo, mi querido. ‘But I want you, darling/buddy’

mi querido (with masc. querid-o), from a straight guy to another guy, would ordinarily be translated as ‘my friend,  buddy (in AmE; mate in BrE)’; mi querida (with fem. querid-a) used by a straight guy would be addressed to a woman and translated as ‘(my) darling, dear’ (while mi querido would also be used by a woman to ref to her beloved: ‘darling, dear, sweetheart’). Usage between two gay men opens up all sorts of possibilities, starting from the fact that it’s very common for male couples to be both best buddies and also romantic/sexual partners, which would allow mi querido to simultaneously convey ‘buddy’ and ‘darling’. (My man Jacques and I didn’t speak Spanish to one another, but if we had, we almost surely would have used querido this way, because it would have fit our relationship perfectly.)

But then fem. inflectional forms like querida (and  lexical items referring to women, and also feminine names) are very commonly used by one gay man to another, for all sorts of purposes. A gay guy might use querida to, or of, his partner specifically to convey affection, to highlight their romantic/sexual relationship (understanding that the usage is merely metaphorical). At the other end of the scale, he might use it derisively to, or of, a trick, to establish himself as a stud and deride the trick as a fag (a faux-girl). Or a number of things in between.

I suspect that there’s a big range of uses of querido and querida among gay men, probably with considerable variation from one hispanophone community to another. In Spanish more generally, Ernesto perceived both forms to be somewhat formal, probably from their use in salutations of letters — Querido/a + NAME ‘Dear NAME’ — though he noted the ‘darling’ use as well.

Spelling. Then there’s the question of how to convey neutrality as to gender in spelling (rather than assuming that the masc. querido covers women as well as men). The slash tactic — latino/a, querido/a —  has been around for a while, but many see it as awkward (and challenging to pronounce).

As a less orthographically awkward substitute for latino/a, latinx has gained some currency, and queridx (and other parallel forms) followed. But again, the question is how these written forms woud be pronounced. The Google translation of [Cuba phrase] above just leaves the orthographic form untouched. But the pronunciation?

Ernesto e-mailed me a while back:

I don’t pronounce “x”, I mostly only write it. If I had to pronounce it, I would say “queride” [AZ: the -e representing an inflectional form that is neither fem. nor masc.]. Some years ago, the pronunciation “queridex” was more popular though.

My impression is that both queridex and queride are still current pronunciations, in different communities of use according to some complex pattern I know nothing about. Ernesto noted that the the use of the X spelling is pretty new and doesn’t belong to standard Spanish, so it’s not surprising there’s variation in its pronunciation. (In fact, nothing guarantees that the usages are parallel for different lexical items: I suspect that querid– and latin– diverge for many speakers.)

lingüistica marica. Also from the [Cuba phrase], and Google-translated as “faggot linguistics”. Ernesto wrote that this

is both entertaining and (to my mind, anyway) accurate, but decidedly non-academic; do you have an Engl. alternative?  [AMZ: Yes. I would use “queer linguistics”.]  In my experience, “marica” can be translated as “queer” [AMZ: ‘homosexual’, merely descriptive] and “faggot” [AMZ: a slur, though I have been working on reclaiming it and using it to refer to myself], but “queer” or “faggot” [as modifiers] can only be translated as “marica”. Most of the cases in Perú, “marica” is used as a slur, but that meaning has been challenged by queer speakers. I use “linguística marica” since some years ago. [AMZ: I do have to say that I admire “faggot linguistics” in English.]

Another tangle of complications, involving the modifier vs. head uses of forms like marica and maricón, and relatively neutral vs. slur uses. I have no clue as to the details of these usages across the hispanophone world, beyond the fact that maricón ‘faggot’  is a classic slur, which has, however, been defiantly reclaimed by some.

 Dario Cocimano. Another exchange between Ernesto and me:
AMZ: Do you know where i could get the lyrics of Dario Cocimano’s “Hola Queridx”? (he goes back and forth between saying querido and querida, but my colloquial Sp. is infinitesimal, so the rest is kind of a blur)
EC: Thanks! I didn’t know that song. I can’t find the lyrics either. But after listening a couple of times, I understand that it’s a sort of cheerful welcome, like a colorful celebration of life. It’s very cute.
The cover of the Digno album is above, in #2. You can listen to the song here. About the artist:

Dario Cocimano nacido en la ciudad de Mar del Plata, Argentina el 7 de Diciembre de 1980. Amante de la trova cubana y el folklore latinoamericano, con formación académica en guitarra y canto, en la ciudad de Córdoba. Productor de música infantíl, director de coro y cantautor, que actualmente se presenta con el dúo ©Mariano Bros.

I still don’t know what’s going on with the alternation between querido and querida in the song.

Bonus: “Hello My Baby”. “Hola Queridx” translates pretty directly into English as “Hello My Baby”, and that is a famous American popular song, with a very complex social history.

From Wikipedia:

“Hello! Ma Baby” is a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1899 by the songwriting team of Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson, known as “Howard and Emerson”. Its subject is a man who has a girlfriend he knows only through the telephone. At the time, telephones were relatively novel, present in fewer than 10% of U.S. households, and this was the first well-known song to refer to the device. Additionally, the word “Hello” itself was primarily associated with telephone use — “Hello Girl” was slang for a telephone operator even through the First World War — though it later became a general greeting for all situations.

The song was first recorded by Arthur Collins on an Edison 5470 phonograph cylinder.


(#2) Original sheet-music cover from 1899

It was originally a “coon song”, with African-American caricatures on the sheet music and “coon” references in the lyrics.

The song was soon taken over by white performers and, in that form, became a standard. The main lyrics in this version:

Hello my baby, hello my honey
Hello my ragtime, summertime gal
Send me a kiss by wire, by wire
Baby, my heart’s on fire, on fire
If you refuse me, honey, you lose me
And you’ll be left alone, oh baby
Telephone, and tell me, tell me
Tell me I’m your very own, oh

Two (of many) recordngs. First, from the Chordettes in 1954, which you can listen to here.

From Wikipedia:

The Chordettes were an American female popular singing quartet, usually singing a cappella, and specializing in traditional popular music. They are best known for their hit songs “Mr. Sandman” and “Lollipop”.

Very white, singing in close harmony.

Then, Phish, which you can listen to here (in a Walnut Creek CA performance from 7/22/97).

From Wikipedia:

Phish is an American rock band that formed in Burlington, Vermont, in 1983. The band is known for musical improvisation, extended jams, blending of genres, and a dedicated fan base. The band consists of guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman, and keyboardist Page McConnell, all of whom perform vocals, with Anastasio being the primary lead vocalist.

Also very white, in close harmony, but male.

Hola Queridx!

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