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More Spanish–Diminutive Guadalajara


More Spanish–Diminutive Guadalajara

Giant petunias and Teatro Degollado

Giant petunias and Teatro Degollado

The only thing small in Guadalajara are the diminutive words, which are used for just about everything.

July 22, 2007

There is nothing small about Guadalajara.  Flying over the city at night, from the north, the lights look practically endless.  And when you are stuck in traffic and it takes two hours plus to get across town, the city is enormous.

The guidebooks say 2 million people live in Guadalajara (which includes Tonala, Zapopan, and Tlaquepaque).  But the babies keep way ahead of the census, so when the people on the street say there are six million people here, I believe them.

So why diminutive Guadalajara?  It’s just more regional Spanish.

In English we use some diminutive endings on words.  Luncheonette, kitchenette, piglet, duckling—but we keep it in check.  Spanish uses diminutives more often, often adding “ito” (or “ita”) to the end of words ending in “o” (or “a”).

The world epicenter of diminution is Guadalajara.  Frequent readers know that the Spanish language changes from place to place, as does English.  If Spanish speakers the world over like their little “itos,” Guadalajara is mad about them.

Which made life difficult for me when I was learning Spanish.

“Luisito and I are going for a cafecito in the esquinita.  Want to come for a pancito or an aguita?”

Okay, if I’m wide-awake I remember that Luisito is Luis, and I caught on to cafecito right away.  But aguita – a little water – always threw me.

Cerquita (a little circa, or close) and chiquita (a little, well, little).  Are other examples.  (Don’t laugh—we say “a little big”).

Then there is “illa,” which Omar explains is a diminutive without worth, but with love.  Our neighbor has a little boy named Paquillo (Francisco = Paco = Paquillo = Little Paco).  Coco the Pup is often Coquis (she likes it because it sounds French), but the relatives call her Coquita or Coquilla).  “Tortilla” comes from this – a little torta, or sandwich.  And no one here goes for tacos.  They are taquitos, thank you.

Does all this ito- and illa- izing of words really mean a diminution of size?  Is an aguita a small agua?  Not at all—it is more familiar or enduring.  It can also soften a word.  “I was borachito” sounds more forgiving than the bald “I was drunk” (“boracho”) although it means the same thing.  You may even be invited for a “chupito,” which can mean a beer if offered to you at a party or something very different if proferred on a street corner in front of a low rent motel.

All of which makes life interesting if Spanish isn’t your first language.

Dan and Omar

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Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.