[Week 1] Galego Word of the Week: Morriña

View of the Ara Solis at sunset, an ancient arch which lies inside Parque de Punta Herminia – the northernmost point of A Coruña.

Welcome to a new series on my blog! I’ve been brainstorming about a few ways to set this blog apart from all the other traveled related and 20 somethings blogs out there. I came up with the idea to incorporate a series of blog posts on language, specifically the Galician language as I’m currently living in Galicia and having small interactions with it every day, if not more. I also own my very own Biblia Galega and try to read it as often as possible but most of the time reading my Bible in Spanish makes becomes a higher priority.

Anyway, each week I will be writing a short (or sometimes longer) post on one word in the Galician language that has tickled my brain and made me think. Sometimes the word will have a one-word definition, other times -and more often- it will not have a literal translation. Those are the most fun words, in my opinion, to be honest! 😉

This post is being published on a Sunday but my goal for the rest of my posts will be to post one new entry to this series every Saturday until June! I’ll take a break from it in the summer and then resume the series in September when I get back here for another school year. I will write the posts myself for a while but I would be open to having guest posts written by other bloggers who are also living in this region and want to share about a word in Galego that has caught their attention. Keep your eyes out for those posts in the future.

Enjoy the series and get ready to learn more about the fascinating Galician language and its culture. Saludos!


(Moh-rreen-yah; remember to roll that ‘r’ people!)

Translation: homesickness

Short definition: An intense longing or desire to be somewhere; ie: home or somewhere else in which you lived. (For Galegos somewhere refers to being here in Galicia, their homeland).

I learned this word some time at the beginning of my journey with the Spanish language – which began 11.5 years ago this month. I didn’t use it nor learn about the true meaning of it until a few years later when one of my friends in Sevilla asked me if I had it (in reference to my own lands and home). I surprisingly did not even though a few people around me were plagued with it from time to time.

In the last couple of years, I learned that this word (and other words that end in -iña in Spanish) was not from Castillian Spanish but rather Galego. The Spanish people borrowed this word from the Galician people and integrated it into their own language. And the fact that, if you looked deeper into the meaning of the word, it didn’t have a one-word translation after all. It’s just easier to translate it to “homesickness” if you want to translate it into English and move on.

It’s also the word I hear quite a bit from a friend of mine (from Ourense) who lives and studies in Ohio right now. He says it almost every time I send him a picture of some spot in his gorgeous region so I try not to send him too many pictures. The keyword is “try” and I’m not doing a very good job of resisting that temptation these days, haha.

A Coruña as seen from Monte de San Pedro (barrio: Los Rosales)

However, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I learned the real and deeper meaning behind this word. And I have been mulling this story over in the back of my mind ever since then, trying to process and make sense of it all. Here it is:  A couple of friends and I were having coffee with a new friend named Manuel. We were talking about our families and I had just finished sharing about how my great-grandparents immigrated from England to the US about 100 years ago. My story sparked a conversation about immigration and how many members of Manuel’s family left Galicia for other lands and have yet to come back “home.” It’s the case for many galegos as a whole as they are very spread out around the world. There is a saying that goes, “You can even find a galego on the moon!” And we all know that the plus side of having family members who live in other countries (or states) is that you can turn a visit into a vacation with them, of course. However, each member of Manuel’s family experiences quite a bit of morriña and longs to be back in their homeland one day. In fact, his great-uncle, who lives in South America, was not doing well awhile back and knew that he was dying. He didn’t have a lot of time left.

His uncle told Manuel that he wanted to come back to Galicia before the time came for the sole purpose of dying here and nowhere else in the world. He was longing to be back so badly just so he could die in sus terras galegas!

I didn’t know what morriña REALLY was until that moment in time.

Could you imagine experiencing that type of deep longing?

[Caion, (A Coruña)]. I can see why my friend (and other galegos) will have perpetual morriña for…well, ever. 

I don’t know about you but I tend to only focus on where I want to live in the future or where I might want to settle down and buy a house one day. The thought of where I physically want to be when I die has never crossed my mind, not even once. Maybe it’s because we often aren’t promised tomorrow let alone the luxurious choice of being in an ideal place when we die. Life often does not turn out that way…

Perhaps it’s something we should consider – sooner rather than later – so that we won’t end up on our own deathbeds one day wishing we were where our hearts yearned to be.

I’ll let you chew on this word and that story for now. I know I will be for the next few months, if not years! haha

Check back next week for another Galician word and the story behind it. I hope you enjoy this series of blog posts as much as I will love writing them and finding the most magical and mystical words to share with you!

Ata logiño!

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