• maquiladora •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A US or other foreign assembly plant located just below the Mexican border employing labor at a much cheaper rate than is possible north of the border. These factories assemble products that are then shipped north, tariff-free, back to the US.
Notes: We often write of words that are established in the language by virtue of media repetition. Today's word is one that has not set its roots because of media indifference. (I suppose it is rather long for a news medium.) Remember that the "qu" is pronounced [k].
In Play: According to Newsweek (May 20, 1991), "Since the mid-1960s US companies have been setting up maquiladoras in Mexico and shipping the tariff-free products back to American markets." The N.Y. Times claimed on May 8, 1997, "Many of those jobs have gone to maquiladoras, whose payrolls have expanded by 300,000 in two years." NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was signed in 1994.
Word History: This Good Word is an American Spanish word that originally meant "the place where the miller gets his cut." Maquiladora is from Spanish maquila, meaning that portion of the flour or meal given to the miller in return for milling grain. Old Spanish picked the word up from Arabic makila "measured, measure of capacity" from the past participle of kala "to measure", during the Moorish conquest of Spain (711-1492). In Mexico and Central American, however, maquila has come to mean "factory for export goods" and maquilar, "to assemble for export". Exactly what happened to this word between Spain and Mexico has everyone scratching their heads.
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