After her father’s death, the poetic subject in Luz Pichel’s Galician-language Casa pechada (Closed Home, 2006) returns from the city to clear the things in her house in a small Galician village. However, these things do not conform to any sense of social, emotional, or material permanence. The decay of closed-down houses and abandoned farm tools speaks to and reproduces the imprint of rural extractivism, symbolic violence, and ecological precarization on the Galician countryside. The act of naming can determine what things are and the emotions they awaken: utensils or trash, repurposed tools or ruins, personal souvenirs or museum pieces. However, the rural, at times impoverished, at times gentrified, may lack names for its materials. Pichel’s self-translation Cativa en su lughar (Cativa in Her Place, 2013) gets this point across by using familiar Castrapo rather than Spanish: a pidgin romance variation that belongs to no normative language that it is closely related to (Spanish, Galician, or Portuguese) but traverses them all. Phonetic aspects, like accent and phonemes (the “gheada”), resist incorporation to any standardized, state-sponsored language, and in turn, the names that may care for / curate rural things rely on paronomastic associations, identifications, and oppositions across languages. The article claims that in Cativa, signs and names may define the monetary value, the purpose, and the substance of things, but language’s material embodiment also supports and mobilizes their emotional and political meanings.

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