July 22, 2004

La yapita

As a kid growing up in La Paz, Bolivia, I remember using la yapa (less often heard there, at least in my own memory, as la ñapa) in the sense described for lagniappe by Twain. For example, you might be putting sugar in your coffee, and count off the teaspoonfuls this way: "uno, dos, y la yapita" ("one, two, and the little extra bit" -- it was most often used in the diminutive form, with -ita).

I do wonder why the diphthong of the original Quechua form (according to the AHD) was lost, though. People in that part of Bolivia have a lot of Quechua and Aymara words in their vocabulary, and ones with final falling-sonority diphthongs are pretty typical. They even pronounce certain Spanish morphemes with a final diphthong; e.g. hijito ("son, dim.") is often pronounced hijitoy -- the diphthong appears to give the word a little extra bit of the sense of endearment already provided by the diminutive suffix.

[ Comments? ]

Posted by Eric Bakovic at July 22, 2004 03:18 PM