Monday, February 28, 2011

Spanish Lesson: The Polite Plastic Bag

One way that Mexicans express friendliness or politeness in their speech is by adding diminutive suffixes to words. This makes sense with nouns, and was easy enough to get used to. In giving directions, someone on the street might tell you to pass the "parquecito," or little park, even if it isn't a small park. At the cafe, someone might ask for a "cafecito," even if he wants a large.

Sometimes this habit makes less sense. You come back from the beach and a friend tells you that you are "quemarito"—even if you are extremely burnt. When you order a juice at the corner store, the cashier asks you if you want "el chico o el grandecito"—the little one or the nice little big one. How much does that taco cost? "Diez pesitos." When should I come back? "Treinta minutitos." Of course calling them little minutes doesn't make them go by any faster.

After eleven months here, I still haven't integrated this into my speech, which makes me afraid that I am constantly being impolite because I ask for a "bag" at the 7-Eleven and not a "nice little bag."

No comments:

Post a Comment