POLACO (po-la’-ko) So, in Spanish, we would use the words brasileño/brasileña to refer to a Brazilian national, for instance, -a male and a female in this case-. And the same word endings are used with most
So, in Spanish, we would use the words brasileño/brasileña to refer to a Brazilian national, for instance, -a male and a female in this case-. And the same word endings are used with most nationalities. So, it is no surprise that a national of, say, Poland, is called polaco or polaca.
So, what is so distinct about the use of the word polaco in Costa Rica if, granted, we all know that someone (a male) from Poland is called polaco?
And how is this associated with emigrating Jews?…
Most Jews fleeing the rise of Nazism -who later arrived and settled in Costa Rica- came from the village of Żelechów, Poland, and primarily engaged in door-to-door sales and payments. So, in the years prior to World War II, the synonymic association between Jews and Poles became popular in our country…
And so did the business these migrants engaged in, with “polaco” salesmen getting merchandise from factories or warehouses and selling it in small towns or rural areas. For such purpose, they would use cards, where they would write the names of customers, payments made, payments due, visit dates, and so on. This is what we know still today as “pagos de polaco”, that is, customers would make weekly or monthly payments to the salespersons who are now, in a vast majority, Costa Rican nationals, not Europeans.
Do you know any polaco(s) yourself?