Me: I just thought of something. Where did the word guapo come from? Do you think it’s a word from indigenous peoples in the Caribbean?
I was noticing that the gua (Gooah) diphthong sound is associated with the language of the Taino peoples of the Caribbean. A good many of these words, guanábana (fruit), Guánica, Guaynabo, (places), guayaba (another fruit – guava), etc, are all indigenous and you can see their origins from the gua sound.
Me: So I am wondering about the word guapo (Spanish for handsome). Could that word have come from the New World? And if so, why would the Spanish people have needed to appropriate it? Wouldn’t it have already existed in their language?
My error is a basic one, as I was to soon find out, but enlightenment is surely a blessing and one of the many benefits of being married to a smart cookie.
Laura: Interesting track of thought, I mean train, or whatever, but remember, "gua" frequently occurs in Spanish in words that are borrowed through commerce and contact that have a "w" sound in the original language. Remember "waffle?" In the Basque Country they called it gofres. Ok, it did not go to GUA but it went to the gutteral "g". Perhaps a better example is the Spanish translation for "wow" is guao or "William" which is Guillermo. Perhaps the Taino people’s spoken word for the town of Guaynabo, was Whai-NA-bo, and the fruit guanábana was Whai-NA-bah-na.
Laura: I don’t know for sure, but some time ago I looked up Taino grammar and vocabulary and I found out that "gua" was a common article like "the", "this," "that." This results in phrases, rather than words being translated or transformed into current taíno words we know today. I think in my research I was able to come up with towns that were descriptive phrases "the settlement by the water," "the area by the big tree." Who knows if the name was an actual taíno name or a common way of referring to an area that became Spanish shorthand for a place and hence a name we know today.
Laura: However, in my limited knowledge of taíno words I can’t say they use a strong consonant sound such as "p." So I would be inclined to say that guapo is NOT of taíno origin. But then where did it come from?