What Happens to a Mexican Name When You Put -ito at the End?

What Happens to a Mexican Name When You Put -ito at the End?EXPAND
Mark Dancey

DEAR MEXICAN: I'm not bilingual, but I have a fascination with the differences and similarities between Spanish and English words and idioms. They often point to interesting differences between the cultures. Some words, such as "vejigazo" (to get smacked in the ass with an inflated cow bladder) are self-explanatory, but there is one I'd like your help with. I don't remember the word because I stumbled across it in a Spanish-English dictionary once right before I fell asleep, but I do remember the definition. It means "to wear for the first time," and I can't think of any reason why a culture would need a verb to describe that situation. Do you know what that verb is, and more important, can you tell me why Spanish would need it? Thanks very much.

El Guapo

DEAR HANDSOME GABACHO: The verb is estrenar, derived from the Latin strena, which meant a "favorable omen." Estrenar isn't just a verb to describe wearing new clothes, though: It also means "to premiere," as in "un gran estreno." The Real Academia Española doesn't give any clue how estrenar got its sartorial sense, but the connection is pretty obvious, and it ain't unique to us hablas: Every materialistic culture on Earth brims with modern-day Beau Brummells showing off their latest kicks, their most vintage Saint Laurent—and you don't need one word to describe this anymore with the advent of Snapchat. Oh, and #fucktrump.

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DEAR MEXICAN: I know that in Japanese, when you want to emphasize a relationship with a person, you add -kun or -chan to the end of someone's name. Is there anything like that in Spanish? I've heard people use an -ita or an -ito, but I need some verification.


DEAR CHINITO WAB: You have verified correcatemente! The suffixes you cited are diminutives that Mexicans add to the end of male (-ito) and female (-ita) names to signify fondness or endearment toward the cabrones. Grammar rules are generally simple: The diminutive seamlessly latches onto the fín of nombres with consonants (Davidito, Daffodilita) and morphs in strange ways if they end in vowels (Pepe becomes Pepito, Maria transforms into Mariquita, and Maclovio's diminutive is Maclovito). Males have two other suffix options, with the same grammar rules: -ote (which is the equivalent of calling someone "Big," as in Big Miguel—Miguelote) and –ín (Gustavín), which makes no sense to me. You wouldn't use them with girls—go ahead, try calling one gorda and see how fast mexicanas can punch. Oh, and #fucktrump.

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DEAR MEXICAN: Sope. My question is, what is the proper way to actually eat the damn thing? Do you pick it up like a taco (inevitably making a mess), or do you saw it up with the usually barely adequate plasticware provided at the counter? And in what part of Mexico did this enigmatic lil' morsel originate?

CUlinarilly CHAllenged

DEAR CUCHA: Proper way? Whichever way is your bag, baby. Where it came from? Goes back to the ancients because putting something on top of a thick tortilla ain't a new thing, you know? Oh, and #fucktrump.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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