Spanish Words and Phrases


Bless Me, Ultima is a “bilingual” text in the tradition of Chicano language usage which incorporates both English and Spanish lexicon. The fact that Anaya does not directly incorporate an English translation is a cultural strategy that reflects the linguistic and cultural reality of Mexican-Americans living in the Southwestern United States. While not providing a direct/formal translation, Anaya provides a subtle translation in the context of the reading as a whole. For those who are relatively “comfortable” with the Spanish intrusions in the text, no formal translation is necessary. For those who are less familiar with Spanish, difficult words and phrases, as well as Spanish words and phrases are explained below.


The bilingualism that many, although not all, Chicano/as have practiced since early speech is not only a powerful communication tool. It allows for the diverse dimensions that each language brings to the psyche. Chicano/as have been stigmatized for not speaking English correctly and not knowing proper Spanish (see NOTE below); but language is more than a fixed set of verbal standards. It is a way of seeing the world. By having these two languages as part of their daily dynamic, Chicano/as have a unique comprehension of society. The supposed stigma may be converted into an asset. As Francisco X. Alarcón, the poet, has written in one of his poems. “A beso is not a kiss.” Words reflect conceptions of reality and do not simply translate literally.




·         Ultima                    the last one, or the ultimate

·         Está sola….ya no queda gente en el pueblito de Las Pasturas.  She is alone, and there are not many people left in the village of Pasturas.

·         vaquero                  a cowboy.

·         big rancheros        ranchers with large haciendas.

·         tejanos                   Texans

·         llano                       plains; in this case, the Staked Plains in eastern New Mexico

·         Qué lástima!         What a pity.

·         llaneros                 plainsmen; plainspeople

·         crudo                      hung over from drinking alcoholic beverages. “la cruda”=the hang over; literally

 “the raw”

·         Ave María Purísima        a religious exclamation referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary; it is sometimes

Uttered when hoping to ward off evil spirits.

·         Es verdad.              It’s true.

·         la Grande              the elder, used respectfully

·         adobe                      large bricks made of mud and straw

·         El puerto de los Lunas        the refuge of the Luna family; a gateway; figuratively it can mean a

“gateway to the moon.”

·         curandera             a folk healer

·         chapas                    chaps, as in cowboy chaps

·         molino                    a mill; in this case, a feed mill.

·         atole                       cornmeal

·         No está aquí.        He’s not here.

·         Madre de Dios…!        Mother of God….! ; a religious exclamation.

·         Buenos días le de Dios…           God grant you good days; a greeting among New Mexican Chicano/as

·         Pase…pase..         Come in…come in

·         Nuestra casa es su casa.         Our home is your home.

·         cuentos                  stories told as part of folklore





·         amigo!                            Friend!

·          Andale, hombre, andale!        Come on, man, come on!

·         farol                               a lantern

·         La llorona                     the weeping woman; a mythical character alleged to have drowned her

children, and not having been allowed into heaven, she is destined to

search the river for their souls. La llorona is an important motif of

ambivalence which, like the river, calls to Antonio and makes him

fearful. Throughout the remainder of the novel, the wailing call of la llorona mixes with the owl’s cry, the wind’s mourning, and the church bell’s tollings to both lure Antonio and to alert him to danger. La llorona is a mythic figure in Chicano/a and Mexican folklore. Many versions of the myth exist but all tend to be used as a device to socialize children, who are warned not to stray from or disobey their parents lest la llorona get them.


·         Lo mató, lo mató--.                    He killed him, he killed him-.

·         ¿Pero qué dices, hombre?        What are you saying, man?

·         Sala                                a parlor; living room.

·          Un momento!              One moment!

·         Ya vengo--.                    I’m coming.

·         Ya las campanas de la iglesia están doblando…            Already the church bells are


·         Por la sangre de Lupito, todos debemos rogar…                 For the blood of Lupito, we all

should beg…

·         Que Dios la saque de pena y la lleve a descansar…        That God lift her punishment [or pain] and                                                                                         let her [Lupito’s soul] rest. [soul=fem in


·         Hechicera, bruja                                                      Sorceress, witch.

·         Es una mujer con un diente, que llama a toda la gente                  It’s a woman with one tooth, who

                 calls all the people; this is a riddle

                whose answer is: the church bell.

·         Arrímense vivos y difuntos/Aquí estamos todos juntos…        Gather round living and deceased

Here we are all together…

·         chingada                        the screwed one; the reference is to Doña Marina, the indian girl who

served as mistress and translator to the conqueror of Mexico, Hernán

Cortés. The figure of Doña Marina (or  Malintzin/La Malinche as she

was also known) was traditionally seen as a symbol of betrayal of the

indigenous race. In recent years, however, feminist writers have

reinterpreted  Doña Marina in a variety of ways—from slave victim,

heroine, and mother of the mestizo race to genius linguist and military


·         cabrón                            a pimp, pander, cuckold; someone who takes advantage of the

weakness of others.

·          Hi-jo-lah!                      code for “hijo de la chingada,” or son of the screwed one; an


·          Ah la veca!                   code, or slang, referring to the penis.


NOTE:   “The vast majority of Chicano/as were taught to be afraid of a certain type of English: the language of Anglos who initiated and sustained their social and economic disenfranchisement, who consciously or unconsciously instigated their traumatic experiences in monolingual Anglo schools, and who subscribed to and exacerbated the racism under which they have always lived in the United States even though they are U.S. citizens. At the same time, Chicano/as were equally intimidated by the Spanish spoken by people of middle-class or higher economic strata who come from Latin America. For how could a language of those so different experientially from Chicano/as, speak for those who have so long been denied a sense of belonging, a sense of historical ties to this nation, and indeed, to any nation?” (Ana Castillo, Massacre of the Dreamers, p. 167)




·         la yerba del manso                    the plant of the lizard tail family; or, perhaps a plant from Manzano

·         arroyo                            a gully

·         oshá                                a wild celery; a medicinal plant

·         Mira!  Qué suerte, tunas        Look! What luck, prickly pears!

·         álamos                           cottonwood trees, which bloom in late May and early June rather than

in late summer

·         manzanilla                    common chamomile

·         mollera                          the membrane-covered separation between bone plates on the top of an

 infant’s head.

·         chicos                            dried corn, usually cooked with beans.

·         muy sabrosos                very tasty

·         ristras                           a string of something, usually of chile.

·         cabritos, cabroncitos           kids, small goats




·          Ay Dios, otro día!                 Oh God, another day!

·         Llano Estacado                the Staked Plains, located in eastern New Mexico and West Texas

·         En el nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo        In the name of the Father, the Son, and the

Holy Spirit

·         Madre de Dios!                      Mother of God!

·         Mis hijos                       My sons!

·         Perdon!                          Forgive me; I’m sorry.




·         bosque                            a cottonwood grove; a wooded area near water




·         ¿Qué pasa?                   What’s the matter?

·         Ay Dios!                        Oh God!

·         ¿Quién es?                   Who is it?

·         La mujer que no ha pecado es bruja, le juro a Dios!        The woman who has not sinned is a witch, I

swear to God!

·         Chinga tu madre!                   Screw your mother!

·         jodido                             one who is bad off in some way

·         Mira!                              Look!

·         ¿Qué pasa aquí?                      What’s going on here?

·         Madre de Dios!                      Mother of God!

·         abrazo                            embrace or hug

·         the campo santo                      holy burial grounds; a cemetery

·         mitote                             gossip; also a rambunctious dance

·         Las putas!                     The whores!

·         Ah la verga!                  [another] reference to the penis

·         Puto!                              A sodomite; also, a promiscuous man

·         Te voy a matar, cabrón!        I’m going to kill you, you jerk!

·         Hijo de tu chingada!              Son of your screwed [mother]!

·         Pinche!                          An expletive meaning damned, stingy, vile.

·         Por la madre de Dios!        For the mother of God!

·         huevos                            balls, as in testes or testicles

·         maldecido                      a cursed person

·         Ay que diablo!                    Oh, what a devil!

·         Cabronas putas.                     Pimped whores.

·         diablas putas.                     Devilish whores

·         sangre                           blood

·         Dios mío!                       My God!




·         posole                             hominy soup, made with chili, pork and spicy seasonings

·         bizcochito                      homemade cookies sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon

·         empanaditas          turnovers, usually of pumpkin, fruit or meat

·         el  policía                       the police(man)




·         maldito                           wicked, cursed

·         desgraciado                  despicable

·         entremetido                  a meddler, or intruder




·         Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos--        Our Father, who art in heaven—

·         bulto                                               a wood carving of a holy person, also, a ghost

·         Voy a tirar tripas--.                          I am going to throw up…

·         gabacha                                         a white woman




·         Agua Negra                                  Black Water

·         Gracias a Dios que venites                   Thank God that you came!

·         Benditos sean los dulces nombres.        Holy be the sweet names (Jesus, Mary, Joseph)

·         yerba de la vivora                             a snake, or a rattlesnake weed

·         comancheros                                Indian traders

·         grillos                                            crickets




·         el Rito                                                                                            Rito Creek

·         Te doy esta bendición en el nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo        I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

·         acequia                                                                  an irrigation ditch

·         tío                                                                           uncle

·         Hijo de la bruja!                                                     Son of the witch!

·         Espíritu de mi alma!                                                Spirit of my soul!

·         velorio                                                                    a wake to honor the dead