The Language of Los Abuelos
Francisco Gabilondo Soler, better known as Cri-Cri El Grillito Cantor (Cri-Cri the Little Singing Cricket), was probably the most popular singer-songwriter of Spanish-language children’s music of the 20th century.
I remember reading about Cynthia’s experience with Cri-Cri on SpanglishBaby and when I found the CD at the library I was very excited to listen to Cri-Cri with my daughter here in Canada. Although she had heard some of the songs while in Mexico, she doesn’t remember much. She has started paying a lot of attention to the words and their meanings as well.
As Cynthia wrote in her blog, the language of Cri-Cri is “full-bodied and rich, just like the cuentitos the songs tell”.
The words we use say a lot about who we are and where we came from, which is why I make it a point to use the Spanish words my grandparents used as much as I can around my children.
My wife is very excited to share the music of her childhood (and of her mother’s childhood) with our daughter, and I am excited too because I am also learning from this experience.
Using Music to Increase Vocabulary
The other night while listening to the CD Las Numero 1 de Cri-Cri I asked my wife what the word cachivache meant. As can be understood from the song El Ropavejero, cachivaches refers to useless things, or junk that el señor Tlacuache (from the Nahuatl word for opossum) or Ropavejero seeks to buy.
Ahí viene el Tlacuache / cargando un tambache / por todas las calles / de la gran ciudad.
El señor Tlacuache / compra cachivaches, / y para comprarlos / suele pregonar.
¡Botellas que vendan, / zapatos usados! / ¡Sombreros estropeados, / pantalones remendados! / Cambio, vendo y compro por igual!
Here comes the Opossum / carrying a bundle of clothes / along every street / of the big city.
Mr. Opossum / buys junk, / and to buy it / he often hawks
Bottles you’re selling, / old shoes! / Damaged hats, / patched pants! / I exchange, sell and buy just the same!
This song reminds me of the truck that would drive by my mother-in-law’s house announcing that they would buy fierro viejo – old metal scraps – and the time that my mother-in-law sold an old blender for ten pesos.
Cri-Cri’s music has given our family an opportunity to talk abut Mexico – both contemporary and from the past and to remember the words that we rarely use or hear while living in Canada. This is important for all three of us to maintain our connection to Mexico and to the language that has so much cultural meaning and history for my wife and her family.