temblor ?

Where’d this word come from? I never heard or read this word until the late 80’s, maybe even later. Prior to that, the “T” word for earthquake was “tremor”, which is at least destriptive, if a little understated. But WTF is “temblor”?

My old Bates & Jackson geological dictionary (1984 ed.) says that temblor comes from a Spanish word meaning “trembling.”

My Mathews, Dictionary of Americanisms give the following cites: 1896, as temblores as a Spanish word for earthquake. 1906, temblor. In both cites, the word was italicized in print(to indicate from the Spanish?).

He gives a 1913 cite as tremblor and 1892 as tremblers.

Many writing style guides dictate that foreign words in English be italicized. For example, “The polezei arrested me for being a brown shirt.” Granted that in German the word would be capitalized…

However, for foreign words that are accepted as English now – such as “fiesta” – we don’t need to italicize. Nowadays, I wouldn’t italicize “temblor” but I would still italicize “cerveza.” Sure, we all know what it means, but it’s still not regarded as an “English” word nor in general usage.

As for why we took “temblor” from Spanish, it could be one or two or a mix of these reasons: (1) column-inches of newspaper headline and story space or (2) started in California where there are a lot of media and Spanish-speakers. As per point 1, wasn’t it the illustrious Chicago Tribune that tried to commonize the awful “thru” in their newspaper for a VERY short time?

dictionary.com had this to say:

tem·blor (tmblr, -blôr)

[Spanish a trembling, earthquake, from temblar, to shake, from Vulgar Latin *tremulre, from Latin tremulus, shaking; see tremulous.]

Search for temblor.

This word always seemed to me like one that the media community was trying to commonize. We all know what a temblor is but I never hear the word unless the speaker’s head is behind a mike on a TV screen. In the same way
I never met anyone who referred a grownup as an AH-dult, though it’s almost always pronounced that way on the tube. Ditto PROH-grum for ‘program’. Don’t know why, but those ‘official’ pronunciations make me cringe.

There is a Temblor Range in California adjacent to the Carrizo Plain where the spectacular creek offsets due to the San Andreas Fault can be seen.


What was wrong with tremor? Why the sudden switch to a foreign word. Hey, I’m not French, if there’s a useful word in another language, and we don’t have one that’s doing the job, add it in. English is full of words like that, the more the better. But why chnage when we had two useful words already, earthquake and tremor?

I agree with javaman - I never see or hear this outside the media. We got any journalists here on the SDMB? What’s the driving reason behind this?