Spanish: figueta

rolando

Member
US English
The word in question is “figueta,” as it was used by one (and possibly only one) sixteenth century Spanish composer Luis Venegas de Henestrosa to refer to the right-hand technique of alternate plucking with the index and middle fingers. My question is not about the meaning of the word, but whether you have ever read or heard this word used in Spanish, and if you know what the origin of the word might be. There is a word ‘figa’ in Italian which refers to female genitals, and a word ‘figa’ in Portuguese that means “(gesture) fingers crossed” in English, although the fingers used in the USA are index and middle, not thumb and index. Either one of these words MIGHT be a clue as to why Venegas de Henestrosa might have used (or possibly invented) the word “figueta.” Thanks.
 
  • Elcanario

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Figueta es el diminutivo de figa que a su vez es una forma antigua de referirse a una higa.
    Una de las acepciones de higa es 2. f. Gesto supersticioso y ofensivo que consiste en cerrar el puño mostrando el dedo pulgar entre el índice y el corazón, señalando a quien se quiere zaherir. DLE
    De esta acepción vendrá probablemente la susodicha técnica debido al parecido en las formas de colocación de los dedos.
    Un saludo
     

    Artifacs

    Senior Member
    Spanish - España
    :eek: Asombrosa deducción, @Elcanario. Tiene mucho sentido, :thumbsup:

    Para el OP, el término se sigue usando hoy en día, sobre todo entre practicantes de guitarra. Se habla de dos tipos (que se diferencian en la posición adelantada o atrasada del dedo pulgar respecto del dedo índice): la figueta extranjera y la figueta castellana.
     

    rolando

    Member
    US English
    Figueta es el diminutivo de figa que a su vez es una forma antigua de referirse a una higa.
    Una de las acepciones de higa es 2. f. Gesto supersticioso y ofensivo que consiste en cerrar el puño mostrando el dedo pulgar entre el índice y el corazón, señalando a quien se quiere zaherir. DLE
    De esta acepción vendrá probablemente la susodicha técnica debido al parecido en las formas de colocación de los dedos.
    Un saludo
    Thanks sincerely. I was able to find the secondary definition of ‘higa’ to which you refer, but only because you pointed out that ‘figa’ was an antiquated form of ‘higa.’ Unfortunately the DLE simply says “Aviso: La palabra figa no está en el Diccionario. Las entradas que se muestran a continuación podrían estar relacionadas:” (Higa is on the list, but nothing is mentioned about the antiquated spelling, unless I overlooked it.)

    Would you be so kind as to share with me the name of (or a link to) an excellent etymological dictionary that would tell me when I search for ‘figa’ that it is an antiquated form of the word “higa?” I read a lot of “old Spanish” and this would be useful. The DLE (which I used to refer to as RAE) sometimes does give definitions of words from “old Spanish” if I remember correctly. I wonder why it does not in this case. Thank you again.
     

    Elcanario

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    La referencia a "figa" la puedes encontrar por ejemplo en:
    - Nuevo diccionario de la lengua castellana que comprende la última edición integra, muy rectificada y mejorada, del publicado por La Academia Española /por Vicente Salvá, París, 1846.
    - Diccionario enciclopédico de la Lengua Española Gaspar y Roig, 1853.
    - Diccionario nacional o Gran diccionario clásico de la lengua. Ramón Joaquín Domínguez. Madrid. 1869
    - Diccionario Enciclopédico de la lengua castellana. E. Zerolo, M de Toro y Gómez y E. Isaza. Editor Garnier hermanos 1895.

    En todos ellos figura como:

    (SIC) Figa. f. ant. Higa.

    En cierto momento de la historia se produjo un cambio fonético de la "f" inicial latina a la "h" en castellano que produjo muchas de estas variaciones en la ortografía de ciertas palabras.
    Un saludo
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    As a rule of thumb, if the word has an f- in the rest of peninsular languages (e.g., figa in Portuguese-Galician, Asturian, Aragonese and Catalan), it also existed with an f- in medieval Spanish at some point before turning into h-.

    The fact that one word preserves the f- in modern Spanish is usually due to either being a more recent loanword from another Romance language (as f- is preserved in almost all of them) or to being an old word which wasn't affected by the change for some reason (being uncommon, specific, particular, before diphthong, etc).

    In the case of figueta, word that isn't in the CORDE, I've read it comes from the times of vihuelas, which would take us to the last century of the Middle Ages. If so, it could perfectly be a preservation of an old specific word or a loanword from another peninsular Romance language, most probably Catalan or Aragonese (which use the suffix -eta on a regular basis), as vihuelas were played in all of Iberia and were exported to Italy by the Crown of Aragon.
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    En la Divina Comedia hay un brano famoso en el que Dante dice que un damnado enseñó las figas (le fiche) a Díos con decirle "¡Toma, Díos!". Al parecer el gesto de las higas (el pulgar entre dos dedos) desde los tiempos más antiguos era un equivalente común en muchos paises del moderno dedo medio col significado de "¡Jódete!".
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...it also existed with an f- in medieval Spanish at some point before turning into h-.
    I think the phonetic change /f/ to /h/ happened in Old Spanish rather than Medieval Spanish. However, until the modern orthography was settled words beginning with /h/ were written sometimes with <f> and sometimes with<h>.

    I once had to translate an official document issued in Peru and it had foja for hoja. Foja does feature in DRAE:

    1. f. Méx. y Perú. Hoja de papel, sobre todo de un documento oficial.

    2. f. desus. hoja
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I think the phonetic change /f/ to /h/ happened in Old Spanish rather than Medieval Spanish. However, until the modern orthography was settled words beginning with /h/ were written sometimes with <f> and sometimes with<h>.

    Was Spanish born before the Middle Ages? To me, Old Spanish or Medieval Spanish is the same, the Spanish previous to the Renaissance and the change in sibilants. Were you referring to the primitive stage of the language, before written literature?

    A written h was actually not silent for a long while. Even in some poems by Garcilaso de la Vega we can notice, due to the expected number of syllables, that h had to be still aspirated, or at least still considered a literary device.
     
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