Friday, February 15, 2008

Claudia Fanelli Joins Babalú's Staff

Claudia Fanelli of Claudia4Libertad is the latest addition to Babalú's staff, which now numbers 17. Except for an unexpected and unbecoming xenophobic streak which she manifested lately, Claudia certainly deserves the praise we lavished on her last year. The vital new blood that Val has funnelled into Babalú's veins over the last year has washed out a lot of the accumulated bad blood and saved it from a certain death by toxicosis. If Val confined himself to blogging about his family (another great post today about his father, btw); George to blogging about Mohammedism (well, he has to blog about something); and Henry to blogging about nothing at all, Babalú might recover some of its past credit and no longer be the Cuban blogosphere's daffy behemoth.

BTW, Claudia, Spain ruled Sicily for 400 years (just as it did Cuba) and the bloods are pretty well mixed. So, do not be so certain that you "contain no Cuban blood," since both Cuban and Sicilian bloodlines have a common wellspring.


I have often thought that if I didn't have to dedicate myself to teaching them about Cuban history, politics and everything else, I would be content to instruct the Babalunians on Spanish grammar.

They have bestowed on Claudia the title of "La [sic] Águila." In Spanish, of course, it's "El Águila" and never anything else, at least among literate people.


Claudia has revealed that it was Henry who baptized her "La [sic] Águila." That is so typical of Henry. Not the grammatical error (well, that too) but the shallow thought behind it. Both Charlie Bravo and I assumed that Claudia was given the moniker "La [sic] Águila" in virtue of the fact that she is "lively and perpicacious," which happens to be what águila means when applied to a human being. But no, Henry had something else in mind. Claudia clarifies in a footnote that Henry named her "La [sic] Águila" because she is a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles! Really, has Cuban gallantry died alongside good grammatical usage? Then again, the "American-Cuban" is hardly representative of Cuban anything.


Henry's antipathy for all things Spanish now includes the Spanish language. He has refused to correct his bastardization of Spanish, and, so, "La [sic] Águila" will continue to perch, ominously, on Babalú's editorial board like the raven in Poe's poem, a fitting testament to one exile's unconquerable hubris, for who except an arrogant ignoramus would lay down new laws for a language without even bothering to learn the standard usage. Henry allows himself that luxury because of his contempt for Spanish. Never, of course, would he take such liberties with his mother tongue.

A man who does not respect the rules of grammar is capable of violating any rules. It is not for naught that I consider Henry a dangerous man.


Charlie Bravo said...

I thought that she was being called L'Aquila, in Italian, which is totally fitting....

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Yes, adopting the Italian version would be a very fitting solution if they also change the "g" for the "q," which they won't do under the apprehension that people might think they misspelt the word.

Misspellings frighten them. Incorrect usage does not.

Yet we know that misspelling a word says nothing about a person's knowledge of the language. Something like "la [sic]águila" says everything.

I am still amused (though quick to correct them) when children make similar mistakes. There is nothing amusing about men their age who commit the same errors.

The greatest service which the Babalunians can do for Cuba, which will, at the same time, serve them in good stead, is to learn correct Spanish.

Charlie Bravo said...

One could go here to the extreme of the Andalusian or the Asturian and simply call her L'Aguila, as it sounds in those languages, but hey, that comes from Spain. In Habanero it also sounds like that, as in "fulano es l'aguila" to say that one is quick and precise and that no detail escapes from you. But there's a difference, it's still el aguila, but pronounced with the rapid fire cadence that distinguish habaneros from the rest of Cubans.
And you're right, once you know well a language is when you can turn it around with creative deconstruction of same. That's where word-play is born, and that's when a writer becomes a (s)wordsmith.

Fantomas said...

they could have used La Italiana, La leona , La tigresa , better use of La ...La madonna La prima donna

Agustin Farinas said...

at the rate they are going with the contributors, pretty soon they will have more contributors than commenters.
Canging the subject, I wonder how lon it will before they will ask our friend, the nemesis of RCAB, A.K.A. Gomicefalus erectus, to join in as a contributor to Babalu. Now that will be a sight to behold!

Fantomas said...

our friend, the nemesis of RCAB, A.K.A. Gomicefalus erectus,

Despues quieres que te respete.Mandale saludos a tu mami de mi parte

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Fantomas should have been asked to be a Babalú contributor long ago. His claims are certainly greater than those of any of the latest selectees. But fantomas is content to be the waterboy who gets a swift kick to his posterior from time to time like Gunga Din.

Charlie Bravo said...

Fantomas, I certainly do not see Claudia as a prima donna, I think that Leona or Tigresa would be appropriate as well for her passion, but prima donna in my opinion has a pejorative connotation that uncalled for.
But that's me....

Fantomas said...

But fantomas is content to be the waterboy who gets a swift kick to his posterior from time to time like Gunga Din.


Oye dejate de relajar no me hagas reir mas. Ya tienes tu ticket a la Fantomas hellhouse , la voy a inagurar pronto..Voy a empezar a meter ahi a mis enemigos viejos y a los nuevos tambien

Fariñas no te preocupes tu no entras a esa casa ..Tu te quemas antes de entrar

Fantomas said...

Manuel please open a post talking about this I will say now so that your readerscan disseminate it


Anonymous said...

If Claudia is Sicilian and Spain controlled Sicily, that makes her blood Spanish, not Cuban, ¿no?


Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I suppose you live in Miami. Then look around you, please. Those Cubans who look white (because they are) are descended from Spaniards. Even the ones who don't look white also have Spanish blood.

Vana said...

Well, well another contributor, I guess Val does not have time for his blog anymore, I hope Claudia can bring some panache to it, they most certainly need it.

Charlie Bravo said...

What? a sports' thing?

Carlos Miller said...

Sicily has been ruled by almost everybody and Spain was ruled by Moors and many Cubans are descendant from Galicia, which was settled by the Celts, who also settled Wales, Ireland and Scotland, and the Romans, of course, ruled all that at one point.

And if you go back deep enough, we're all descendant from Africa.


I was never schooled in Spanish, I just learned it from my family and on the streets of Miami, so I also have difficulty with "la" and "el".

Usually it's obvious. But sometimes it's not. I used to say "el foto" because it ended in O, but a girl corrected me, saying it was "la foto" because foto came from fotografia, which totally made sense.

But in the case of Aguila, I would also assume it's "la" because it ends in A.

So please explain to me why it is "el" and not "la".

Charlie Bravo said...

Carlos, it's an exception, just like the soul, el alma, el anima, or a weapon, el arma.... I am sure Manuel will give you a more scholarly explanation, I seem to remember that all nouns starting in a and finishing in a are masculine, since "la alma" for example gives a strange liaison between article and noun. In Spanish one does not use apostrophes to create contractions between them.

Carlos Miller said...

Thanks Charlie. Those little rules always get me in Spanish.

But the other thing is, would it really be accurate to call Claudia "El Aquila" considering she is a woman?

Charlie Bravo said...

My second comment at the beginning of the thread talks vaguely about that Carlos, but yes, El Aguila (or simply Aguila) would be correct. It's like calling someone in English a cat. Usually a cat is "assumed" to be female, but nobody seems to hesitate in calling a blues or jazz musician a cool cat. In Spanish, El Aguila has a connotation of a lively and perspicacious person, somebody who doesn't allow the most minimal detail to go undetected. Claudia "el Aguila" Fanelli would be grammatically correct and it would also convey the right connotation. (by the way, it's AGUILA, with a G, not a Q, at least in Spanish. In Italian it is AQUILA (hommage to La Fanelli, I would have called her "Claudia "L'Aquila" Fanelli.

Anonymous said...


I don't live in Miami but I know that the majority of Cubans are white/descendants of Spain, like my family. But, my point was, a Sicilian has Spanish blood just like a Cuban has Spanish blood, but actual Cubans were not in Sicily to mix the "Cuban" blood per se. Therefore, the blood they have in common is Spanish, not Cuban. Had she said "I contain no Spanish blood," she would have been wrong, technically.

I'd also like to know, like Carlos, how you would express a female eagle since the masculine article is never used with the word? I wasn't schooled in Spanish either, so I'm curious, too.

I enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant the feminine article, not masculine article.


Manuel A.Tellechea said...


If I explain to you why it is "el águila" and not "la [sic] águila," I fear that you would never again be sure when to use
"el" and when to use "la," whereas now, with no knowledge of the rules, you are still batting .950. Nevertheless I cannot ignore your request for orientation (or Gina's) while chastising Henry for his refusal to accept any. I will attempt, therefore, to explain it as simply as possible, avoiding all grammatical terms.

First, let me tell you that you won't encounter this difficulty often. In fact, it is confined to words that begin with a stressed "a" whether accented (á) or not. Also words that begin with "ha" (the "h," of course, is always silent in Spanish).

Águila is easy. It begins with a stressed and accented "á." Alma and aula don't have accent marks on the first "a" but are stressed on the first syllable. So is hacha. Hence it is "el alma," "el aula," and "el hacha."

And why is this so, you ask?

To avoid the fusion (called "hiatus" by grammarians) of the "a" in "la" with the first "a" in águila, the "la" is substituted by "el."

However, when "la" and "águila" are separated by another word, then there is no need to use "el" to prevent the fusion of the two. So, you may say "la noble águila." But never "la [sic] águila."

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


More than 70 percent of Cubans have grandparents or at least great-grandparents who were born in Spain. Yes, Cubans are that close to Spain, closer, indeed, than any other Latin American people. So when one speaks of the Spaniards' ties with Sicily one also acknowledges the ties of Cubans with both.

Unlike the English, Spaniards not only mixed their blood with local populations but married local women (so long as they were Catholic). A military officer, for example, might be stationed in the Spanish colony of the Two Sicilies and there marry a Sicilian woman. On his return to Spain, he might be sent to the Spanish colony of Cuba, where he would be accompanied by his Sicilian wife (for Spanish military officers, unlike their English counterparts, did take their wives and families with them when stationed abroad). They might choose to remain in Cuba and raise their family there. Or, perhaps, they might return to Spain, and, many generations later, their descendents would immigrate to Cuba.

Just as likely a Sicilian subject of Spain could choose to emigrate to Cuba. There would be no impediment for him doing so; nor, for that matter, for a Cuban subject of the Catholic Kings to emigrate to the Spanish colony of Sicily.

Many thousands indeed did, in both directions.

This is why I say that Claudia may have ties to Cuba that she doesn't even realize, and not just through Sicily. The Catholic kings of Spain, as Holy Roman Emperors, ruled most of Italy for hundreds of years with the same interactions as in Sicily.

I can offer myself as an example. I am descended from Rear Admiral Don Juan María Herrera Dávila y Raffaelini (1744-1811), who commanded the flotilla from Havana that aided General Bernardo Gálvez in the capture of Mobile and Pensacola during the American Revolution. His mother María Raffaelini y Nuldi was born in Rome.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

It's funny that we have more comments on our post announcing Claudia Fanelli's move to Babalú than does Babalú in its own announcement.

Fantomas said...

Manuel what is it with are obsesado con ellos...Who cares about comments a ver dime..will comments resolve the cuban situation...

Agustin Farinas said...

Lord in Heaven,now Gomihead is also is assaluting the Spanish language and murdering it! The word is "obsesionado" no obsesado. Please grab a Spanish dictionary and take it to the bathroom once in a blue moon.
I was taught is incorrect to use "La aguila" y la agua", because is a "cacophany" and it sounds horrible.

Fantomas said...

Fariñas will spelling correctly bring democracy to cuba , a ver dime?

remember this is not a post of mine on my blog,( i have a correction department for my postings on my blog) I can afford to commit a mistake here..te lo dije este es el blog de la jodedera , nothing else , nothing more

Fantomas said...

Fariñas te contagiastes with rubber head it is not


modifica tu conducta, COMPORT


Manuel A.Tellechea said...


And who is in charge of your "Correction Department" at abajofidel?

And who corrects the corrector?