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Chupawhat?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 15th, 2005

JLo1

“Chupacabras: It’s sort of like Jennifer Lopez, kind of cross-cultural.” – Loren Coleman, as quoted by ABC News, 1999.

“What’s unique about the Chupacabra is that it’s crossing languages, which I think shows how small our world is getting,” says Coleman, reached by phone from his home in Portland, Maine. “It’s sort of like Jennifer Lopez, kind of cross-cultural.” – as misquoted, well at least the employment of the moniker “Chupacabra,” by a reporter on Discovery.com in 2000.

It is “Chupacabras” but people keep using, er, misusing it as “Chupacabra.” Is this the final word on the question of what to use?

I am unhappy with this evolution of a good and decent word, and it current misuse. My own use of “Chupacabras” was warped into “Chupacabra”! I would never say “Chupacabra.” At least, Discover.com got the Jennifer Lopez part correct.

This business about the word “Chupacabras” evolving into the incorrectly spelled “Chupacabra” seems to be pure laziness on the part of the media. I noticed after the “Adventures Beyond” people incorrectly entitled their movie “Chupacabra,” then things began to change for the worse.

Actually, if you review the titles and dates of the following movies listed on the Internet Movie Datebase, you can chronicle this well:

El Chupacabras (1996)

Ataca el chupacabras (1996)

Adventures Beyond: Chupacabra (1997)

Chupacabras (2000)

Legend of the Chupacabra (2000)

El Chupacabra (2003)

Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)

Night of the Chupacabra (2005)

But thank goodness for the Bloodthirst series – they retain the correct spelling:

Bloodthirst: Legend of the Chupacabras (2003) (V)

Bloodthirst 2: Revenge of the Chupacabras (2005) (V)

I interviewed my Hispanic cryptozoologist friend Scott Corrales, and here’s what he says about this whole issue:

The “chupacabra” usage really gets my goat — pun much intended! To say chupacabra is to imply that the entity is “the sucker of a single goat”. Chupacabras is “the sucker of goats”, which was meant by the original nomenclature. Perhaps English speakers feel that a false plural is being formed and they resort to “s” removal. Fortunately the singular/plural issue is resolved–in Spanish–by a “definite article” placed in front of the noun (el, la, los, las, lo): One single chupacabras: “El Chupacabras” A troupe of the things: “Los Chupacabras” If female: “La Chupacabras” A cluster of females: “Las Chupacabras” So the word “Chupacabras” remains intact — no need to amputate the final “s” !

Hey, something is in the ether. I recently discovered that the word “chupacabras” was used on television in 1960, in an episode of the TV western, Bonanza . The word “chupacabras” was said by a Mexican character who was talking with one of the Cartwright family characters, about a creature that sucked the milk from goats, hence it being one of the “goatsuckers,” and was related to the birds, whippoorwills.

Zoologically, night jars and whippoorwills are members of the Caprimulgiformes (goatsuckers) and thus are called “Chupacabras” in Spanish. It seems a natural extension of this usage that a cryptozoological creature, a new cryptid sucking the blood from goats, would also be called a Chupacabras.

As I’ve said many times, I think this business about Chupacabras “exploding” onto the Hispanic-Anglo scene in 1995, from the bipedal blood-sucker incidents of that year in Puerto Rico, needs to be revisited and further researched. Scott Corrales is well-aware of Chupacabras reports back into the 1970s, and the more help looking into the past, the better.

But one thing that does NOT need to be revisited is the use of the word, Chupacabras, for it is correct with the “s.”


Thank You.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


11 Responses to “Chupawhat?”

  1. godzilladude responds:

    Its good to see you have things to do in the middle of the week.
    ;)

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    That’s actually quite funny considering I’m recovering from taking the redeye from being on “Attack of the Show” in sunny LA and dealing with the coming ice storm in Maine!

    I guess Chupacabras have a calming effect on me.

    :-)

  3. jimmy responds:

    I agree w/ “godzilladude” in that “Its good to see you have things to do in the middle of the week.”

    However, I could be wrong, but my observation is the following. If I understand correctly you are thrown off by the fact that the terms “Chupacabra” & “Chupacabras” are being used interchangeably. Well that’s like using the word “man” & “men” interchangeably or depending on the context in which they are used. “Chupacabra” is the “singular” form of the word, where as “Chupacabras” refers to the “plural” use of the word. Neither one is wrong.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Sorry Jimmy, I think you have to re-read my entry. The whole point is that Chupacabras is the plural and singular forms.

  5. tpeter responds:

    Dear Loren,
    I was particularly intrigued by your reference to Scott Corrales researching chupacabras reports going back to the 1970’s–so, it’s not just a fad or craze of the mid and late 1990’s.
    Otherwise, you yourself have a good point.Chupacabras IS both singular and plural in Spanish, the final -s being an integral part of the word, which is thus quite comparable to invariable English nouns like deer, sheep, fish that are the same in singular and plural. As Spanish is an increasingly important and widely used language in the United States, there is little excuse for “Anglos” these days not getting it right.
    On the other hand, unlike yourself, I myself happen to have little objection to saying or writing “Sasquatches,” analogously to English words like “witches, bitches, hitches, glitches, ditches, watches, latches, matches, batches.” This is because “Sasquatch” is not a genuine Amerind word but a 1920’s coinage by a White Canadian teacher, J.W. Burns, who blended several more or less similar Native Canadian words. Being invented, though after some Native Canadian models or prototypes, there is no need to give “Sasquatch” an original Salishan plural form–which would be far harder for most “Anglos” unfamiliar with Amerind linguistics to look up than the proper form of Spanish words!Most Borders or Barnes & Noble outlets and most local public libraries do not stock Salish dictionaries or grammars!
    Regards,
    T. Peter

  6. Loren Coleman responds:

    Come on Ben, all words are made up…afterall…by humans. But some standards have to be maintained, and if Spanish cryptozoologists, writers, and scholars wish to share their insights into the correct use of their words, who am I to disagree? Actually, I’m rather tired of Anglo-elitists attempting to overturn Latino usages.

  7. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I use and prefer chupacabra (singular); proscriptive grammarians aside, “chupacabra” is also a popular usage and is thus “correct.” This is essentially a made-up word, and many neologisms don’t follow strict grammatical rules. As an editor, I can tell you that people will use whatever words they want to, and arguing against a popular usage is a waste of precious time!

  8. Remus responds:

    You norteamericanos! There is so much to bring into this discussion…But it would all be moot.

    Benjamin Radford is right. Nit-picking I think.

    Happy Cinco!

  9. snavarrete responds:

    Words such as “el abrelatas” (can opener), “el mondadientes” (toothpick), “el rotafolios” (flip chart), “el lanzallamas” (flamethrower), “el cascanueces” (nutcracker) are compound nouns whose plurals are formed by changing the definite article “el” by “los” (“los lanzallamas”).

  10. Jim McClarin responds:

    Thanks for this discussion. I’ll try to remember not to say chupacabra since chupacabras is clearly correct in Spanish.

  11. Jim McClarin responds:

    BTW, most “chupacabras photos” I’ve seen are ghastly ugly so I appreciate your using one of JL instead.



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