Worry over visiting Republicans and spelling “seventh” in Ybor City

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    There has been an ongoing issue in Tampa’s Ybor City, a historical part of Tampa Bay where no one can agree on the correct spelling for “seventh” in Spanish.

    Ybor City was founded in 1885 by a group of Spanish cigar makers. Because it was envisioned as a cigar-making city, many Cuban cigar torcedores who lived in Key West and Cuba around the turn of the century came to live there. The town prospered, and soon Jewish and Italian immigrants joined the Cubans and Spaniards. Today, Ybor City still retains much of its character, with a number of converted cigar factories and old buildings with restaurants, shops and bars, making it one of those quaint historic districts tourists like to visit when coming to Tampa.

    The main business drag in Ybor City is 7th Avenue or as it’s known, “La Setima.”

    Since the Republican National Convention will be held in the Tampa Bay Times Forum at the end of August, a lot of flag waving Americanos will be cruising the streets of Tampa, perhaps going to Ybor City for a drink, a meal or just to party. This has a lot of business owners and city officials concerned.

    In the run-up to the Convention, the misspelling of Séptima as “Setima” is a hot debate in Ybor City. Fran Consatino, a business owner and resident of Ybor City, and president of the East Ybor Historic and Civic Association, along with some city officials, feel they will look like idiots for misspelling Séptima.

    Others say Sétima is the correct spelling because of the way the word used to be pronounced by the Cubans and Italians who lived in Ybor back in the old days. Richard Gonzmart, owner of Ybor City’s famous Columbia Restaurant, is quoted in an article in the Tampa Bay Times as saying he likes the use of the word Sétima because it reflects the heritage of the Ybor of yesteryear.

    Yet the word sétima is actually an accepted spelling of seventh according to the Real Academia de la Lengua Española (RAE)Although it does not offer a definition on its online dictionary, it does offer the word séptimo-ma as the definition via a link from Sétimo-ma. The word Sétimo is found in various dictionaries.

    Related: Parallel influences of language

    What’s cool about the whole thing is that city officials, residents and natives of Ybor City and historians are debating the issue of how to spell something in Spanish.

    The signs that currently line the street and read “Setima” were placed in 1998. To change them would cost the city about $4,000. But the question then, is if Sétima is colloquial or formal. And if it is colloquial should it be spelled that way? How about Parkin’ for parking or Shoppin’ for the store, or Momentico for a brief instant?

    Tampa and the people of Ybor City don’t want to look like fools in front of all the Republicans. But maybe the Republicans won’t even notice it because the signs do say “7th Avenue” in large letters, and only below and in smaller letters do they say “Setima.” Notice the lack of an accent on the “e.” That’s the spelling on one sign, no accent. If they’re going to fix something, perhaps they could just fix it by adding the accent, which can be seen on another sign in the same street. Or perhaps they should ask Marco Rubio, he’s Cuban and a Republican.

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