Mexicans and their Nicknames

I saw a gallery (“Casting ‘Super Bowl: The Movie'”) over at SI.com today which reminded me of a perhaps little-known aspect of Mexican culture.

The premise of the gallery is to show how closely certain participants in this Sunday’s Super Bowl resemble certain actors, some of them are uncanny.

Nevertheless, us Mexicans have a propensity to label (verbally or mentally) people based on who/what they resemble. For example, if a friend even has a slightly longer face than most, automatically he’s glossed el caballo (the horse).

If another buddy has a slightly squat visage the name chato (the bulldog) naturally flows from our lips. And so on, the nicknames range from el gato (the cat) to the more exotic el puma, and of course el borrego (the ram), usually this fellow will have a nice head of thick curly hair.

For a good illustration check out this T-Mobile commercial.

We don’t even stop at animal-lookalikes we go all out. If a friend has even the slightest hint of Asian ancestry (the country is irrelevant), he is automatically el chino (the Chinese man).

These are terms of endearment, though perhaps those outside of the culture might see things differently. Viewing such nicknames as harsh, cruel and insensitive to a person’s self-image.

Any other cultures that do this kind of thing?

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One Response to Mexicans and their Nicknames

  1. Pingback: The Fiddler Crab on the Roof « Last Row

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