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  • Author: Xosé-Afonso Álvarez Pérez x
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Abstract: A study of the semantic field ‘cow’ in Galician: ‘neck’

This article presents a sample of a broader project that has as objective its study of the names referring to the cow's appearance and certain parts of the body. I have chosen thirty lexical fields which best exemplify the different procedures that speakers follow for coining these names, and in this article I will focus on the words used to designate a cow's neck. The responses for this concept have been extracted from the materials of the Atlas Lingüístico Galego (165) and from a series of dialectal inquiries (216) carried out in 1969 by undergraduate students.

A bipartite structure has been chosen for this work. In the first place, I analyze the geographic distribution of different responses in the case of this concept, categorizing each according to motive and registering these on a map. In the second place, each form is studied on an individual basis from several perspectives: etymology, morphological analysis, first recorded usage, for example. This methodology seeks to complement current work on the Atlas Lingüístico Galego and similar projects that focus on geolinguistic distribution without paying attention to the other aspects aforementioned.

Eleven different lexical families (with some morphological variants) for ‘neck’ are commented on in this article. The most significant form noted is pescozo; though colo is found and also xugueira, and, less commonly: cachazo, carrolo, gorxia, marmela, moleira, nobenillo, pulmoeira, and taloeira. Though there is not a great diversity of forms, they are, nevertheless very interesting, because we can observe a number of different linguistic and semantic developments.

Whereas pescozo – the standard word for ‘neck’ and reflex of a Latin construction *cocciu (cocciu ‘trough, sink’: the semantic link is clear, comparing a curved sink to the curvature of the neck) – is known throughout the whole territory, the other forms are each limited to a particular zone. We have descendants of Lat. collu ‘neck’, but only in the northern part of Galicia; as to the form caluga, Galician and Asturian dialectal data show that the etymological explanation suggested by Corominas is unacceptable, as this form must be connected to the family of reflexes of Lat. collu.

We also find a term based on xugo ‘yoke’, a farming implement referring directly to the bovine's neck; xugueira is also a frequent appellation with reference to an ‘injured neck’. A southern form, cachazo, continues in the Portuguese linguistic domain, a term of disputed origin, possibly from cacho/a ‘mass of meat in a part of the body’. The etymology of carrolo is also undecided.

Finally, there are a number of isolated responses and comments, each of which have been studied individually and compared to different data collected from dictionaries, databases, other dialectal research, etc. As a result of this, I have determined that: a) some forms are really references not to the neck but to a neighbouring part of the body: gorxia, moleira, marmela; b) some constitute references to a disease that can affect the neck: nobenillo, pulmoeira; and c) two forms remain that currently have not so far been satisfactorily explained: corpozo, taloeira.

In the course of the article, I demonstrate the importance of dialectal data in refuting a number of etymological hypotheses and the usefulness of lexicographical material as an aid to improving our understanding of certain dialectal forms. The need to look at neighbouring linguistic zones in order to arrive at a better analysis of the data also emerges clearly from the work.


This paper is a contrastive study of the inventory of second and third conjugation verbs in Galician (also with reference to Portuguese) and Castilian. First, we explain the development of the four Latin conjugations (CANTĀRE, HABĒRE, CURRĔRE, DORMĪRE) into the three in Ibero-Romance (-ar, -er, -ir) and the accidental resolutions leading to convergence or divergence in the second and third conjugations in this linguistic area. Then we examine three broad divisions established on the basis of (a) the coincidence of Galician and Portuguese and their divergence from Castilian, (b) the divergence of Galician from Castilian and Portuguese and (c) the coincidence of Galician and Castilian and their divergence from Portuguese. We look at how Galician grammars and dictionaries deal with these forms, considerations when choosing the standard form, and the preferred solutions in Castilian. The particular cases of caer/cair and decer/dicir and how they are treated in Galician prescriptive grammar (NOMIG) are subjected to a critical analysis based on the relevant data from Atlas Linguistico Galego (ALGa).