Bilingualkat's Blog

Spanish… we all use it!

Lamer vs. Lamber February 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bilingualkat @ 1:44 AM

Today’s post isn’t really about spanglish but its a question that I’ve been looking to answer for a long time. So what’s going on here? I thought that the verb for to lick was lamber… until I went to Spain and they said they’ve never heard that word in their life. So which is it? Lamber or Lamer? I know that Lamber is common through parts of Central America, but the only other  information I’ve been able to find so far is that when I type lamber into my electronic oxford dictionary it says see lamer. The word lamber does exist in the Diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia but for the definition it reads:

(Del lat. lambĕre, lamer).

1. tr. desus. lamer. U. en Canarias, Extremadura, León, Salamanca y América.

2. tr. Méx. y Ur. adular (ǁ hacer o decir lo que se cree que puede agradar)

A professor of mine at the Universidad Complutence of Madrid told me that the variation most likely occured from a misspelling or mispronunciation years ago. Is there a correct or incorrect word? I’m interested to hear Dr. Aske’s opinion on the subject. Perhaps he can help me to solve this puzzle.

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3 Responses to “Lamer vs. Lamber”

  1. Jon Aske Says:

    It is a simple case of dialectal variation. The change of the sounds MB to M from Latin to Castilian is what’s expected (e.g. PALUMBA > paloma). But I suspect that lamber as used in parts of the Spanish speaking world is a remnant from another peninsular language, quite possibly Leonese from the distribution of the word inside Spain. Note that lick is lamber in Portuguese (sister language of those two). The replacement of these languages by Castilian in the last 500 years was not always perfect and this is probably an example of that. It is interesting that in some countries where the two words are found, like Mexico or Uruguay, the non-standard lamber has acquired a specialized, metaphorical meaning, to flatter. I have to admit that personally I had never heard lamber, only lamer, which is probably more standard.

  2. Michele Davila Says:

    Pues en Puerto Rico es normal decir lamber, aunque conocemos lamer. En especial se usa en el habla popular con la expresion “lambe ojo” cuyo significado es adular.

  3. Ileana Says:

    The correct word as taught in school in Puerto Rico is lamer. Lamber is known to the lower classes of the population


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