Mae, una innovación apelativa en el español de Costa Rica
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Leoni de León, Jorge Antonio
Cordero Monge, Sergio
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In this paper, we describe the evolution of the term maje (‘dude, guy’) from its introduction into the Spanish of Costa Rica in the mid-twentieth century to its current use; the definitions compiled in various lexicographical works that have registered the term at specific moments of its evolution constitute our starting point. Thus, we explain the change of its original use, limited to the juvenile jargon and masculine underworld, as synonym of ‘idiot’ (Nunca falta un maje que lo haga ‘There will always be a moron who does it’), up to its contemporary use, which presents two remarkable characteris- tics: (1) loss of the voiceless velar fricative /x/ in intervocalic position (so that maje be- comes mae) and (2) extension of its use without gender distinction (El mae vino ‘The dude came’, La mae se quedó ‘The dude (female form) stayed’). In the course of this research, we detected two new usages of mae: (1) in reference to animated non-human beings (Le di de comer al gato; el mae no quiso las croquetas ‘I fed the cat; it did not want the croquettes’) and (2) in reference to objects with a certain degree of animation (Cargué el teléfono, pero el mae no encendió ‘I charged the phone, but it did not turn on’). As part of this evolutionary process, we describe the appearance of a third instance of mae, preceded by a masculine or feminine determinant, which we identify as a pro- nominal phrase: Vi a Ana, la mae sale con Carlos (‘I saw Ana, she is dating Carlos’). These forms, refractory to modifiers with prenominals (*La buena mae no me habla ‘The good woman does not speak to me’), recover the full nominal sense of ‘person’ if they are modified by postnominal adjectives (El mae guapo no vino ‘The handsome guy did not come’).