Feb 21, 2011

MADRE by Liza Bakewell

taken from the author's website

Madre is a…marvel. Liza Bakewell brilliantly weaves a story that peels away layers of hidden meanings of the most fraught word of Mexico’s maternal cultura, revealing secrets many natives dare not speak. This is a book that will get tongues wagging. John Phillip Santos, author of The Farthest Home is in an Empire of Fire

Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun began with some graffiti on a wall: A todo madre o un desmadre. I was in Mexico doing research for my PhD, and although my Spanish, I thought, was fluent, I had never seen that expression before. So I asked what it meant, and I was told that it was not proper for a woman to use those words. Not proper, because madremadre or qué madre or de poca madre” are used in the bar, on the street, and only by men.

Over the years, I developed a long list of Madre expressions, and I found friends to help me translate them. I became intrigued with the way the Mexican speakers shape their language and how language in turn shapes them, their goals, their dreams and their children.

I think of Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun as part memoir, part travelogue and part investigation into a culture and its language. How can me vale madre mean worthless and ¡que padre! mean marvelous? Why does madre mean whore as much as virgin?  Join me as I travel thorough Mexico to investigate the madre phenomenon.

Whether you have lived in another country, are studying to learn another language, speak Spanish as your first language, enjoy learning about other cultures or just enjoy reading about how language affects our lives, I hope you enjoy Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun.
In her illuminating new book, Liza Bakewell…a linguistic anthropologist with sparkling credentials, turns to a single Mexican-Spanish word, "Madre," and discovers controversies and challenges…Beyond the obvious public issues in our headlines, all is not serene in our neighbor's house. Portland Press Herald
One of Bakewell’s goals in writing this book was to 'write to everyone,' and she does that with aplomb. It’s safe to say that most people are fascinated with language in one way or another. San Antonio Express News
 …charming book, a mix of memoir, research and travelogue. The Economist

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