Mexican X-plainer: Tolkien, Sephardim, and Northern Mexican Spanish

If you come to the US Southwest / Northern Mexico, you’ll hear a certain word quite a bit, especially if children are around: HUERCO (also spelled güerco). It means “kid” (with a slight nuance of “brat,” to my ear).

The word is barely used elsewhere. So what’s its origin?

You may not be aware of this, but there is a dialect of Spanish spoken by groups of Sephardic Jews around the world. Commonly known as “Ladino” by non-speakers, this “Judeo-Spanish” or Djudeo preserves a lot of features of…