Last night I learnt a song, En el pozo María Luisa (In the Maria Lusia mine), from a Spanish friend. This song, which is also known as Nel Pozu Maria Luisa or Santa Bárbara Bendita, comes from Asturias in north west Spain and is usually sung in Asturian, Spanish or a mixture of the two. It is the story of a mining accident in the Pozu Maria Luisa coal mine, in the town of Ciaño in the municipality of Langreo.

While I was able to understand most of the words after hearing them a few times, some of them puzzled me. For example, when I heard the word pozo (mine) it sounded to me more like porzo, which I couldn’t find in my Spanish dictionaries when I looked. Eventually I found pozo when looking in the English-Spanish section for the word mine. Another word for mine is mina.

Pozo /’poθo/ is a well; a deep pool, the deep part of a river; a shaft, pit or mine; or the hold (of a ship). It comes from the Latin word puteus (pit, dungeon, well, cistern).

Expressions containing pozo include:

– pozo artesiano = artesian well
– pozo de petróleo = oil well
– pozo ciego/negro = cesspool
– caer en el pozo = to fall into oblivion
– pozo de aire = air shaft
– pozo de registro/visita = manhole / inspection hatch
– ser un pozo de ciencia = to be immensely learned
– es un pozo de maldad = he is utterly wicked

I assumed that the song was in Spanish, and that the words that puzzled me they were just ones I hadn’t heard before, like pozo. Now I realise that some of the words might have been Asturian – the Spanish friend who taught me the song is from Asturias.

3 thoughts on “Pozo

  1. I had always thought that the word for pozo was well, and that mina was translated as mine. I guess it could be different in Asturias because they have a deeply rooted mining tradition, but in the rest of Spain and within a non specialized context I’d say that everyone would rather understand pozo as a water well and mina as a mine (coal, gold, and so on), I think it is different when talking about oil because it’s liquid.

  2. I’m from Spain and I can confirm Remd’s comments. In Asturias both forms are used, but elsewhere (as far as I know) “pozo” is only used for a well, including an oil well.

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