Old saddle-bags, and other endearments

R, hubby: Hey, viejita*…

Me, pissed: WHAA–??? #%&#!!!

Times like these, I have to breathe. Times like these, I have to hold myself back from making my shoe fly across the room in the general direction of his head. Times like these, I remember that Spanish endearments are…interesting. And not a little insulting.

Though I can’t make too many generalizations (my Hispanic experience is not all-encompassing, after all- just a childhood in Spain, years in South America, and marriage to a Latino), one of the shockers in this cross-cultural existence of mine is the endearments tossed casually my way by my l-l-l-latin l-l-l-lover. 

The language of love is supposed to be murmured delicacies, whispered phrases of tender, passionate emotionalism. Ricky Ricardo, Enrique Iglesias, and Antonio Banderas. A guitar strumming of tongue movements. The red-tinged exhilaration of the bullfight tempered by the lazy Spanish sun.

Yeeeeeeah- not so much.

Spanish-language endearments are shockingly personal. Try “gordita”- little fat lady. Or “negrita”- little blackie. “Culona”- big-butt.

Feelin the love yet??

Peruvians are really good at this. A friend of mine and I were living at the beach in Peru, after homestays in two different cities. My friend’s host family came to visit her, and the first words out of the host father’s mouth were, “Oh my GOD, Anna- you’re SO FAT!! What have you been EATING???”- while his family chuckled and nodded in agreement. A Peruvian friend, Rosa, saw my wedding pictures and commented, “I want to know what you’ve been EATING. You’re HUGE!”

Many nickames in Spanish have this highly personal connection to the physical. A good friend of my husband’s is called “the grandfather” because he’s slightly older. My friend Miguel is called “Chato”- short guy- because, well- he is. Anyone with darker skin, even if they’re not of African descent, is “negrito” or “negrita”- blackie.

I don’t have enough colloquial knowledge of French to draw any conclusions, but I wonder if these terms of endearment are similar in other languages.

And I am a year older than my Colombian hubby. So there’s a logical reason for “viejita”. But even knowing that, and knowing his intentions to be pure, expressed in love…

…I’m still examining those crow’s feet a little closer today.



* loosely translated: little old lady

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12 Responses to Old saddle-bags, and other endearments

  1. My (Peruvian) husband is so bad about this! He calls me “potazo” all the time. I’m a year and a half older than my husband and he sometimes tells me “estás tía.” (You’re getting old.) He calls my son “pie cuadrado” and he calls my daughter “cabeza de casco.” It’s like they don’t mind being picked on so much in Peru; it’s normal. No matter how many times I tell him he shouldn’t say those things to us, he continues.

  2. evenshine says:

    “Cabeza de casco”- hahaha. My kids are usually “culi-cagados”. I would definitely get riled up about “potazo”, too!

  3. Rhology says:

    In my year’s experience studying in France, hanging out a good amount of time with multiple families, and in my 8 yrs of study of French, I’d say the diminutives are pretty comparable to English. Nothing close to the level that Spanish achieves at all.

  4. evenshine says:

    Rho-funny. I always imagined French to be the same. Never know about those romance languages! A bientot!

  5. faemom says:

    I have to say it crosses the language and cultural barriers. My husband started calling me “butts and guts” when I was pregnant with our first child. He’s shortened it to “b and g” because he thinks he can get away with it. Over three years later and I’m still not amused. Do think a hard, heavy objct to his skull would stop it or is too much?

  6. antropologa says:

    Huh. The worst my Swedish husband calls me is “honey” when he’s mad.

  7. badmommymoments says:

    Suddenly “lil’ boo” doesn’t sound so bad…

  8. Evenshine says:

    faemom- heavy objects are tempting, I hear you!

    antropologa- even “honey” can sound bad when said the wrong way!

    badmommymoments-lil boo is actually kinda cute!

    thanks for the comments, ladies!

  9. japanese are the same way!

  10. Mary-LUE says:

    Hi there! I wanted to come by to say thanks for the encouragement/support over at Emily’s place today. I was very nervous about speaking up, but thankfully, it turned out quite well. Emily was wonderful and responded personally.

    I also wanted to let you know that I agree with what you said about what the research says. I wasn’t sure enough of the facts to feel comfortable making a definitive statement about it, though. I was partially trying to make the point that the church is wrestling with how to deal with what the world is saying.

    (I would have emailed you this but I couldn’t find an email address at quick glance.)

    Moving on to the subject of this post, you had me laughing. If I had a Latin lover, I wonder what my nickname would be? My husband sticks with the occasional babe, sometimes Murph (from my maiden name), and once in awhile, “Hey You!”

  11. evenshine says:

    Hey Mary, thanks for stopping by. I don’t have my email on this site but the comments are delivered directly. I’ll email you.

    And you’re welcome. I just thought it was great both that she was asking questions and that you had the courage to take a stand, especially in the face of her regular readership!

    As to your nickname, it probably has to do with whatever your defining features are…but “hey you” works to illustrate my point well!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I’ve been called “little cow” by my husband. That one definitely made me say “huh?” We had a discussion about it.

    In India, as you know cows are very sacred and beloved. Being compared to a cow is a good thing because cows are thought of as being tame, gentle, bringers of luck and wealth, etc. (being called “tame” isn’t much better though, is it?)

    I guess it was an endearment, but still…………

    Anyway, enjoyed your post.

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