Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Word of the Day: Quemado

Besides meaning 'burned' or 'burnt', quemado is also a game of tag (the verb quemar meaning 'to tag').

Another use of the term is for burnt (or burning) trash. Just about everywhere in Costa Rica, except for the larger cities (Costa Rica is still largely a rural society), people burn their trash because of either habit, lack of garbage pickup, or both. If you have ever smelled burnt trash, you won't forget it. When plastic burns it gives off toxic dioxins that are--as far as I know--proven carcinogens. Even in some of the more open environments, the burning of trash can be smelled all around town (remember, these are small towns I'm talking about).

Anyway, back to the point...In Costa Rica you might hear someone say "huele a quemado", which basically means "it smells like something is burning". Whenever I've heard the term quemado for when something is literally burning, it has always been in this context of burning trash.

No comments: