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Nicknames in Mexico

Nicknames in Mexico

You could spend a lifetime learning interesting facts about Mexico.  Here is some nickname trivia.

December 30, 2007

Fausto (Fas), Mildret (Tochi), Omar (Isra), Daniel (Dani), Nadia, Iris (Tulipan)

Fausto (Fas), Mildret (Tochi), Omar (Isra), Daniel (Dani), Nadia, Iris (Tulipan)

One of our hobbies is collecting interesting Mexican names.  Not like Parangaricutiramicuaro, which is a town, but people names.

My favorite is Primitivo.  Somehow I find the idea of a guy named Primitive hugely appealing.

Omar’s father is Hilario Guadalupe—two woman’s names, and he hates it.  It’s not as bad as John Wayne’s real name (Marion) but it is hardly butch.

Panfilo is cool.  I sometimes introduce myself as Semaforo (which is stoplight) and Omar hits me, because there is no such name is Spanish.  I’ve always wanted to present ourselves with pet names (“Pleased to meet you.  I’m Snowball, and this here is Ruff) but Omar won’t do it.  And he’s usually so much fun…

Omar’s grandfather was Anacleto.  I’ve had students named Tonatiuh, Ehetl, Netzahuacoyatl, and Huitzilopotztli.  I really like Xochitl, which is Nauhuatl for flower.

Of course, to make it interesting, everyone goes by their middle names or uses nicknames.  How they remember them all, I never know.  Faced with a hundred new kids every year, until I learned their names I’d call all the girls “Betty” and all the boys “Fluffy.”  Omar’s family calls him Israel.  To his family, Armando is Luis.  I’ve already wrote how I shared an apartment with Jose but didn’t know who Pepe was.  Come to find out, Pepe is the nick for Jose.

Religious names are very popular (although I haven’t found them to always coincide with the bearer’s behavior).  I’ve known a Melchior and a Balthezar (but no Caspar yet—give me time).  Juan and Jose are very common.  And of course lots of folks are named Jesus (pronounced Hay-ZUs).  The nickname for Jesus is Chuy, pronounced Chewy, which I think is just wonderful.  If naming your kid Jesus will get him into heaven then naming him Jesus Mary (Jesus Maria) should get him a seat at the head table.  Jesus Maria is Chema.

An even more unusual use of a sexually inappropriate name is Jesusa for women.

The woman who handed out the paychecks where I worked was named Jesusa, and my first payday on the new job they told me to go and pick up my check from “Chuyita,” Jesusa’s nickname.  Now, I had never heard “Chuyita” before, and darned if I didn’t get it all messed up on the way up to payroll.

So I enter this long room, with secretaries on each side, and Chuyita sitting at a heavy desk at the end of the passageway.  Now, Chuyita was a real big boned girl with a no-smiles approach and a nose that was turned up so you could see half way to her lungs.  She made me nervous.

She glares up at me, and I call out, loud enough for deaf Señora Felicidad to hear, “Hola Chuleta!”

Now, “Chuleta” isn’t “Chuyita.”  It is “Porkchop.”  It was one of the 23 Spanish words in my vocabulary at that time, and had to be the one that floated to the top and bubbled out my lips, much to the delight of the secretarial staff, which tried very hard to pretend they hadn’t heard my mistake while they rolled around on the floor clutching their sides.

Porkchop…er, Chuyita, held my check by two fingers, images of guys in headdresses ripping out the hearts of foreigners burning in her Aztec eyes.  I thought for sure she would tear my check into shreds.

Being a well-educated grown man who knew he had transgressed, there was only one correct thing to do.  I didn’t hesitate, but walked like a man straight up to Chuyita’s desk, where I tried to look innocent and oblivious and ignored the fact that anything had happened.  It worked.  She muttered something in my direction that was not one of the 23 words I knew but gave me my paycheck, and I wasted no time on small talk.

Every two weeks the secretary gals would wait for me to come up and give them another show.

Dan and Omar

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

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