[Marxism] Re: {Chris} Che

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Wed Mar 31 17:10:21 MST 2004

Peter McLaren?  Anything to do with the film director?  On to 

Respuesta a: Re: [Marxism] Re: {Chris} Che
Remitido por: Peter McLaren
Fecha: Miércoles 31 de Marzo de 2004 
Hora: 13:55

> In my book on El Che I tried to explain the word "Che" and wrote 
> that "Che" is an Argentinian slang form offamiliar address, loosely 
> translated as "mate" or "buddy" and it has been etymologically > 
linked to a Mapuche Indian word meaning "man". 

The Mapuche link is obscure.  "che" has more the meaning of "people" 
than "man".  Thus, Mapu-che means "people of the land", Pehuen-che 
means "people of the pinewoods", and you also have lots of "ches" in 
the general area of Araucania and its Eastern expansions: huiliches, 
picunches, rankilches (or ranculches, the "i/u" sounding like the 
French "u"), and so on.

> It is also similar to an Andalucian expression and a Guarani Indian 
> word for "my". 

There are many "che" compound Guarani words: "Che-rogá", "Che-retá", 
and others.  The Andalusian origin is also possible.  However, the 
question remains of why did the particle remain in the River Plate 
and not elsewhere.  It is my impression that the Guarani origin is 
the most probable candidate.  All the region that spans from, say, 
Asunción to Montevideo, was, from the point of view of popular 
culture, of Guarany matrix.  Since the Jesuit Missions gave the 
Guarany a particularly high position, it is most probable that the 
"Che" came down from the Guaranys.  It is not unusual in Paraguay, by 
the way, though the usage is somehow more complex.  OTOH, the second 
(and actual) foundation of Buenos Aires was the work of a military-
colonizer group lead by 63 men, where 53 were "half and half" of 
Spanish-Guarany Paraguayan origin.

> The syllable "Che" is ofen used as a casual speech 
> filler or punctuation and possibly derives from the Indian word 
> "cioe" meaning "that is." 

The _Italian_ word --you made a clerical mistake, Peter.  Its usage 
as a speech filler is not as common as you explain, though some use 
it.  It does not sound "clear" or "clean"  to the average ear.

So that I am not quite sure that it functions as "the Canadian - eh?  
I think that would be the case, eh?"  We tend to use something like 
the "no?" instead:  "Se entiende, no?"

I would say that "che" is a kind of generalized familiar vocative, 
99% of the times it is referring to the person (or persons, like when 
someone begs "Escuchen, che (listen, please)", to a group that does 
not want to listen) to whom the speaker is talking to.  Other usages 
are extremely rare.  Maybe there's no _exact_ equivalent.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
"Sí, una sola debe ser la patria de los sudamericanos".
Simón Bolívar al gobierno secesionista y disgregador de 
Buenos Aires, 1822
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