Mexico - MéjicoMonday, June 12, 2006
When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico they built churches on top of pyramids and adapted Mayan and Aztec gods to Catholicism. But it was the language of the aboriginal population that perplexed the Spaniards. One problem was a sound that manifested itself in many different ways. But the Spaniards standardized it all with the letter j. The country became Méjico and Mexicans were Mejicanos. After Mexican independence Mexicans reverted to the letter x which had different sounds: Mexican words that begin with x are pronounced as sh so Xola is shola. An x in the middle of a word can be an s as in Taxco but j (or h) as in Oaxaca. The county of Bejar in Texas (during the Spanish period) became Bexar during the Mexican period. When Texas became Texas Bexar county became Bear County. Under Spain the inhabitants had been Tejas Indians. These were then Texas Indians and finally the state became Texas.
In 1953 my mother went to Mexico from Buenos Aires to see if our family should move there. When she came back she wrote the word as Mexico so I insisted in pronouncing it like an x. To this day Spaniards insist in writing the name of the country with a j as Méjico. To me that x made Mexico that much more exotic. When we finally arrived in Mexico in 1955 I fell in love with Mexico and I have felt a pull that has never diminished even in my contentment in Vancouver.