Thursday, September 16, 2010

Un Raton By Any Other Name Is A Ground Squirrel (With a Reply)

"Raton: A city
Location: New Mexico/USA Settled in 1871 and called 'Mouse' in Spanish because a certain breed of ground squirrel or rock squirrel swarmed over a nearby mountain. "

Once upon a time I made the mistake of saying to my Children that the Spanish word "Raton" (Mouse) sometimes meant "Squirrel". This was before the Internet and so I was limited to mundane sources to prove my point....and I couldn't. But now I have.

If ever you have ever wished for bright children, may God not grant your wish. They are a pain in the ass 24/7/365 until death do we part.

They got on my case. They laughed at me. They ridiculed me. They made fun of me. They were mean. Their behavior in this matter was bad.

Now here is evidence that in New Mexico, in this city, if not region, raton means squirrel.

Will they honor this proof? Will they give me credit? Hell no they won't. But for all the rest of mankind out there, I just wanted you to know that I was correct and they weren't right.
HERE is a reply from my older son. This is why it is a lost cause....
"We knew all this back during the original debate. But just because once upon a time a select few Spanish speakers erroneously referred to squirrels as rats doesn't make squirrels into rats, nor does it change the true meaning of "raton" in their language. Maybe if the entire population was consistent in the error for centuries, even after the error was pointed out to them, then the meaning of the word would expand. For example, referring to an American Bison as a "Buffalo" is not incorrect in my book, no matter what those biologists say. Those biologists haven't read enough Linguistics or Phil of Language, and they are entirely out-voted by everyone else. But that's not what's going on with "raton". Because if you go to a New Mexican Spanish-speaking neighborhood holding a ground squirrel in one hand and a rat in the other and ask a New Mexican Spanish-speaking local to point to the "raton", guess which one will get picked?It is a HUGE leap in logic to go from "Once upon a time centuries ago a few locals, either in error or in jest, referred to the local squirrels as rats and named the town after them" to "Squirrels and rats share the same name in Spanish". If a town in New York were to be renamed "Rat, NY" after all the "rats with wings" that infested the area, does that mean that in the English language "rat" rightly refers to pigeons? Nope.So after all these years, you are still wrong for the same reasons. You have just forgotten the intricacies of the argument. I hear that these memory troubles often happen in advanced age such as you've reached, so that's understandable. Don't feel too bad."
See what I mean?


Okie Book Woman said...

Yes, dear, you were right. You are also right about the pain of having bright children. What were we thinking? Only people who don't mind being ridiculed and challenged every single day should make such a wish.

BB-Idaho said...

I guess that explains Raton Pass on the Santa Fe
RR. Being neither a shooter or hunter, my long tenure in the ammunition business was a bit of an anomaly. But my coworkers were serious hunters of the tiny timid 'raton'. I found this a cruel sport, but apparently the little guys are a nuisance as farmers and ranchers welcomed the 'varmint hunters' with open arms.