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Word of the day: rocambolesco

10 March 2013

I learned a new, and highly useful, word today:  “rocambolesco“.  I don’t know how I managed to survive in a culture like this as long as I have without at least running across it.  It’s a great word to use when talking about bureaucratic regulations and political arguments.  The automatic translations will give you “bizarre, though “head scratcher” might be closer to the literal translation.

“WTF?” or “HUH?” might be good synonyms also.

Call me Al, Fred, Juan, Franciso Franco...

Call me Al, Fred, Juan, Franciso Franco…

Llamarse Lenin de nombre de pila en España está prohíbido. La razón es que invita a confusión, porque el “sentir popular” -errado- piensa que es un apellido, aunque en realidad fue el seudónimo del líder de la revolución rusa de 1917.

Este rocambolesco argumento …

And the rationale is a head-scratcher: the Civil Registry judges justify not using “Lenin” as a name on the grounds that people tend to assume Lenin was a surname, and not the pseudonym of a Russian guy named Vladimir Illich Ulianov. Which is clear as mud.

Lenin is not an uncommon given name in Latin America (I’ve written before on the then-presidente municipal of Ciudad Acuña, Lenin Perez who enjoyed great popularity among his Texas counterparts) and the Vice-President of Ecuador, business executive Lenin Moreno). I’ve known a couple of Lenins here in Mexico, one who had a brother named Stalin.  Neither of them were Communists, by the way.

The Spanish bureaucratic regulation only triggered a request for a rationale because a Parliamentary Deputy had heard from Latin Americans named Lenin seeking Spanish nationality that they had been told to change their names … although I don’t think they would expect a guy named Juan-Pablo to be mistaken for  a Karol Józef Wojtyła, nor think guys with the given name Felipe de Jesus (like Felipe de Jesus Calderón Hinojosa) might be confused with Felipe de las Casas, the late 16th century Mexican  Manila-trade merchant  turned monk.

That would be logical, but the rationale would still be  rocambolesco. 

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