I first learned this word from my friend Samuel at church here. Someone else who was also new to the church asked him about words in galego and wanted to start learning a few from a native. Naturally I, who had already been reading texts in galego since the previous summer, was very interested in learning some new words to expand my vocabulary and knowledge of the Galician culture.
Samuel explained that galegos like to say a word called, “poquichiño” to refer to a little thing instead of using the comparable castellano form, “poquito.” In galego, there are a lot of words that end in –iño. Such as: mariñero/a, sardiña, garapiñada and many more. As a matter of fact, galegos like to add the letter ñ onto the end of a lot of words in their language and that construction is an easy way that helps you differentiate between the two languages fairly easily. It’s actually my favorite letter in the Spanish language so I’m not complaining. (My favorite sound is definitely the ‘erre’ as I have been practicing the sound ever since I learned it as a young girl.) Poquichiño with the –iño ending also sounds very endearing and pleasant to the ear. I even imagine a cute little abuelo or abuela it every time I hear the word. It paints a nice picture for me and I smile whenever I hear it. :)
The endings –iño, -iña and –ito and –ita (in Galego and Spanish respectively) are called the diminutive form. In other words, changing a regular word into this form is not only diminishing its size but it’s like calling it a cute little thing (for example, cosita). These diminutive word endings vary by Spanish speaking country but in Spain, they vary by region.
|Pasteliños courtesy of one of the teacher's on her birthday last October!|
In my beloved Andalucia, you will hear the locals ending a lot of their words with the ito/a endings like in hamburguesita which I heard spoken to me once in Malaga a couple years ago when I *shamelessly* visited a McDonald's for dinner one night. And I don’t know how many times I heard, “niñita,” in reference to my age by numerous older women in Sevilla. I suppose to some people a 21 year old young woman is still a girl and you just can’t argue with them. (Note: You will rarely win an argument with an older Spanish woman, especially an Andalusian woman, haha.)
Farther north of Andalucia, when you visit Central Spain such as regions like Madrid, you will hear –illo and –illa at the ends of words such as problemilla or bolsilla. But, if you travel as far as Galicia (the northwest corner of Spain), –iño/a will be attached to a number of words. I first heard and noticed one of the major differences between the North and the South language-wise when I made an appointment at a local beauty salon. I was just about to get my eyebrows waxed in Spain for the first time when the salon worker advised me to “sacame las gafiñas.” (Translation: Take off your little glasses for me.) I’ve also heard “hasta loguiño” when saying “see you later” and also bolsiña in almost every supermarket I visit. I was taken off guard at first but after a few more similar interactions with store clerks, teachers and a couple of doctors, I realized that that was the way they said things around here. I liked it but at the same time I was missing the familiar -ito/a endings I've been accustomed to hearing all the other places I've visited or lived.
I've only been to other regions such as Cataluña, Castilla La Mancha (in fact, I was just there this weekend in Toledo!), Castilla y Leon, Murcia and Extremadura one time each so I can't say for sure which endings the locals in these regions tend to say the most. There are also so many other provinces and regions in Spain that I have not set foot in but truly want to in the next few months to a year. I'm by no means an expert on all the regional language ticks in this country but I would like to be one day.
So, this week's word was fairly simple and easy to understand but it will hopefully be the last one of its kind in this series. I wanted to include it so that you as the reader (and perhaps student of the Spanish language) could see how many different forms of the diminutive there actually are.
Even when I'm not living in Galicia, I will still think of this word fondly and remember the musical gallego who taught it to me. And the fact that it also reminds me of Pinocchio though it has no relation at all, haha.
What diminutive word endings in Spanish have you heard before and in which country did you hear them? What's the cutest little word someone has said to you? Tell me about it in the comments below!