Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Dec 23 21:23:18 UTC 2006

As a matter of interest, a friend of mine was taking Spanish lessons a dozen or more years ago, and his teacher - a native of Mexico - assured him that "gringo" came from the chorus of the song "Green Grow the Lilacs," supposedly sung by NorthAmerican sodliers in the 1846-48 war.

  As most of us know, this is a familiar faux etymology. Sometimes the song referred to is "Green Grow the Laurel" (a version of "the Lilacs"),"Green Grow the Rushes-O!" or Burns's "Green Grow the Rashes."

  Where his teacher picked up the story I don't know, but it's interesting to find hispanophones subscribing to it too.


"Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Dennis R. Preston"

Subject: Re: Gringo


I know the word, but it was not in common use in the early 80's.
Maybe rap culture has brought it back to the fore.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Geoff Nathan
>Subject: Re: Gringo
>Dennis wrote:
>> When I lived in Hawai'i int he early 80's, locals
>> had trouble with what to call black folk. "Haole"
>> meant "white guy" but also meant "non-local," so
>> "black haole," since no local guys were black,
>> came to be a resolution.
>Dennis, apparently you didn't move in the right circles. The Hawaiian
>Creole word for black folk is popolo (stress on penult.). It shows up
>in various of Frank DeLima's songs for example, and in the
>linguistically sophisticated popular guide to HC 'Pidgin to da Max'
>(disclaimer--the authors were classmates of mine)
>There's a great song--a kind of potted history of the Islands--called
>'The Greatest Place of All. It includes a list of ethnonyms at one point:
>This is the land of Podagee,
>Koreans, Flips and Haoles and plenny Popolo
>Buddhaheads, Vietnamese, Samoans and Hawaiians give us dignity.
>There's even a local rapper called the 'Lolo Popolo' (lolo is HC for
>stupid--it's also in the HC word for pot--pakalolo 'stupid weed'
>Geoffrey S. Nathan
>Department of English/Computing and Information Technology
>Wayne State University
>Detroit, MI, 48202
>Phones: C&IT (313) 577-1259/English (313) 577-8621
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at

The American Dialect Society -

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