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Uncommon Knowledge: Where do gringos come from?

Foreign Language Blocks | UncommonGoodsThere was a time when Greek was the universal language of civilized Europeans. By the Middle Ages, however, Latin had become dominant to the point that some monastery scribes, when faced with a text that needed translating, would simply write a note in Latin saying, “It is Greek. It cannot be read.” It was Shakespeare who helped formalize our English version of the phrase in Julius Caesar: “It was Greek to me.” But English isn’t the only language that adopted this idiom. In Spanish, when someone is impossible to understand, you might say, “hablar en griego.” The phrase came with the Spaniards to the New World, and over time the word for “Greek” transformed into “gringo.”

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Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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