Saturday, August 18, 2007

More Spanish stuff

Mexicans typically call all east asians “Chinos”. Occasionally you’ll hear koreano or japonés, but the generic, most widely-used term seems to be chino.

Which isn’t that interesting, except that it reminds me about nicknames – Mexicans are enthusiastic and utterly un-PC in assigning nicknames. The following are (off the top of my head) examples I have heard in real life:

Chino - Chinaman
Chango – Monkey
Güero - Whitey
Negro - Blackie
Gordo/gordito – Fatty
Chancho - Piggy
Flaco - Skinny
Pelón - Baldy
Burro - Donkey
Tuerto - One-eye/lazy-eye/cross-eye
Chaparro - Shorty
Chula - Cutey

Whenever I’m with Spanish speakers, I’m always Güero (pronounced roughly “weddo”). It’s natural and expected. If I had three eyes or an extra large head, you can be confident I’d be called “Eyes” or “Big Head.”

Another thing, your nickname from childhood may stick with you even if circumstances change – I’ve met more than one chubby “Flaco”.

On the subject of Hispanic nicknames, from here:
… Anglo culture sees nicknames that address physical and racial characteristics as derogatory. The Hispanics, however, see the use of these nicknames as a way of placing affection on a person regardless of the circumstances. “This simple cultural observation may lead one to conclude that in fact, the Mexicans [and Hispanics in general] tend to be much more accepting of the uniqueness of the individual that we are likely to see north of the Rio Grande”…


At Sun Aug 19, 12:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger Alan said...

I occasionally catch El Gordo y La Flaca on Univision. I don't speak Spanish, so most of the show is lost on me. I generally watch Sabato Gigante for culture entertainment.

At Sun Aug 19, 02:27:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

I have to say I miss a lot of El Gordo y La Flaca too, since they're both Cubanos which means they talk really fast and drop 90% of their S's (arroz (rice) becomes "arroh" in Cuban Spanish...)

Sabado Gigante -- a place where one can see lots of really curvy and sexily-clad Latina women engage in gratuitous dancing and smiling -- seems to me the pinnacle of human achievement. :-)

At Mon Aug 20, 02:02:00 PM PDT, Blogger unca said...

About 20 years ago, I visited my brother in L.A. who played on a winter baseball team. I got to play one game with them and meet the players. Most of the team was Hispanic and they all referred to another Hispanic guy on the team as, "Chata." My brother had been calling him that for months, thinking it was his real name. Then somebody told him it stood for "flat-face" and he (my brother) felt kind of embarassed though nobody seemed offended by a gringo (is "gingo" offensive?) calling the guy by his nickname.

At Mon Aug 20, 03:02:00 PM PDT, Blogger applevenusian said...

When I was in eight grade and cut my hair short short, a hispanic friend of mine called me "El Vez". The only nickname that really stuck with me is "Lisa Leaning Tower of Pisa", because I guess nothing else rhymes with Lisa (Pizza?).

Also, I sometimes get called "guera" at work, since my Spanish is so poor.

At Mon Aug 20, 08:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Chata seems about par for the course, Unca. Thx for sharing that. "Gringo" doesn't feel offensive to me -- it seems to be mostly what other "gringos" call each other -- I don't hear hispanics use it that often. When they call white ppl stuff, they typically use gabacho, bolillo, norteamericano...
Note: bolillo (a white roll) can be innocuous or derogatory, depending on the person, I think. It's also (rarely in my experience) used like "oreo" or "coconut" to suggest someone who's "white inside" (ie, not authentically ethnic...)

Lisa, sounds like your classmates weren't that imaginitive, or maybe you were just extremely well-liked... :-)
I always laugh (inside) when parents say they chose a name that can't be shortened or made fun of -- I immediately think up several toilet-themed rhymes about their kid. But I don't share them...

At Mon Aug 20, 11:21:00 PM PDT, Blogger Left Coast Sister said...

I wonder if in Argentina it's different... a friend of mine from there is about 6' tall and 125 lbs and has always been skinny and his mom calls him Gordo. Even though he's never even been kind of gordo. It does seem like a say-it-like-it-is kind of culture in many ways, no?

At Sat Aug 25, 09:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

LCS, good point about the nicknames not having to make sense. Sometimes they're opposites also, I think.
Today I played soccer with a guy whose friends called him "Panzudo" -- Big Belly.

At Thu Apr 23, 04:42:00 PM PDT, Blogger stephanie said...

Many times "Gordo" is used as an endearment--my best friend and my neighbor both call their husbands that, and neither one is carrying any kind of extra weight. It's just a generic endearment.

At Fri Apr 24, 12:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

thanks, stephanie. didn't know that.


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