A Single Word

The one that Armando Manzanero does not mention in his songs, but  is ever present. 

What could that word be?

Esa palabra

           “One morning in the early 1970’s, I was walking along the main street of my hometown, in Latin America, when I saw a group of magnificently dressed gipsy women adorned with multicoloured scarves and pleated silk and chiffon skirts. They also wore gold rings, chains, pendants and even their teeth were gold enhancing their beauty.

One of the exotic women with Kohl rimmed chestnut eyes, dressed like a Princess from the Arabian Nights, approached me and said:

Buen mozo, te adivinaré el futuro. Dame una moneda y una palabra. (Handsome, I will tell you your future. Give me a coin and a word.)

I looked at her with surprise; while she continued saying:

Buen mozo, si tuvieras que elegir una palabra entre todas las palabras, ¿cuál sería esta palabra? (Handsome, If you had to choose one word amongst them all. Which one would it be?)

Without thinking I said:

Pasión es la palabra. (Passion is the word.)
Ahora dame la moneda chico. (Boy, now give me the coins.)

Once she took the coin, she began to sway hypnotically, closed her eyes, and seemed to step into a trance. She then said:

Tendrás muchos amores, pero solo en el último encontrarás pasión. Ahora vete. (You will have many lovers, but only with the last one you will find passion. Now, you must go.)

She disappeared rapidly with the others, and in the end I was one coin lighter but I was left with a word.”

Since then many years have passed by and I have learned that every dream needs  a dreamer and one ingredient of any dream is that drive that keep us going, this is called pasión.

The word pasión  in Spanish and the word passion in English  share a common origin.  There are a several  thousands words in both English and Spanish that share a common root, similar spelling and sometimes even meanings, such as: estrella/astro and star; noche and night, día and day, cereal and cereal. I will refer to this more in detail in a future blog.

 The meaning of words changes over time, they evolve. Pasión is a word that comes from far away in history and its meaning has evolved. Pasión and passion not only share similar spelling, but also the same meaning. Two of  the most common meanings currently in use are:  a profound and sometimes only just manageable emotion and lastly an intense motivation or enthusiasm for something.

Pasión is a common theme of much Spanish art,  literature and music. In particular, the lyrics Contigo Aprendí, “With you I Learned”, is a fine example of a song from the golden époque of Bolero expressing pasión.

The version below is sung by Eugenia León  and  Armando Manzanero. Eugenia Leon is a world renowned Mexican singer and Manzanero is a great composer with Mayan roots.  Again, challenging as it may be to pick up one song amongst so many, I have chosen this one because of its refined imagery and simplicity. It portrays the feeling of love at first sight, of rebirth and the pasión that true loves brings to us. Following are three lines from this song:

Contigo aprendí / A ver la luz del otro lado de la luna

(With you I learned / to see the light on the other side of the moon)

Que puedo irme mañana mismo de este mundo / Las cosas buenas ya contigo las viví

(that I could leave this world tomorrow / Because I have already lived the best of life with you)

Y contigo aprendí / Que yo nací el día en que te conocí 

(And I learned / That I was born the day I met you)

 Here is a link to the complete song:

La pasión is allied to motivation and enthusiasm, that readiness to embrace what it takes, to achieve one’s goals, overcoming any obstacle and pasión is the best ingredient to add to the recipe of “studying a second language”.

July 2014


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About hoxton spanish tutor info

Hi, my name is Adrian Sanchez. I am passionate about words and languages, particularly Spanish, the language I learned at my mother’s knee. I am curious about how languages change and evolve. I am a qualified Spanish Teacher (CLTA) and a journalist. I have taught in literacy campaigns in Latin America and given Spanish tuition in Spain and in the UK. I would like to share some of my thoughts on the Spanish language; and particularly on what I have learned from my students, who in many ways have become my teachers throughout the years. Spanish is a vast and beautiful language and I would like you to accompany me on a journey of discoveries. You can visit my blog here: spanishtutorinfo.wordpress.com Email: hoxtonpanishtutor@gmail.com Thank you!

3 responses to “A Single Word”

  1. marita says :

    Muy bueno!!


  2. Saul says :

    Para hablar de pasion, que mejor ejemplo que mi nombre entrelazado con el de mi esposa (mi nombre Saul, ella Lisa) LISAUL!!!


  3. Tony O'Hara says :

    I have just spent sometime rereading all your blogs Mr Sanchez and I must say I found the second reading so much more rewarding. You have some fantastic thoughts and I admire the direction of your written process. Very well done. Impressed.


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