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Barely Locution

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In Chicano English, the word barely, which traditionally means “just happened,” can also mean “almost didn’t happen,” as in “I just barely got here.” This locution apparently reflects the fact that in Spanish, the word apenas can mean either one of these. The Chicano use of the barely in this sense is a calque, or loan translation, which occurs when a pattern from one language gets transferred to another. This is part of a complete episode.

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