Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 15th, 2005
“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)
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.”