My Many Names

I’m Beth to my family, sometimes Rudy to my father. Cameo to Tanya and Carnie to Jordan. I’ve been called C-Money, Carmenemelini, Gilberto, M and even spent last summer as Sparkles. Well, since being here, I’ve gained a few more sobrenombres (nicknames) to add to the list.

“Carmen… semeperdíolacadenita.”

I became increasingly confused the first few weeks in country every-time I would introduce myself and immediately be serenaded. I had never heard of this song before and couldn’t even figure out what they were saying for a while – making it impossible to google later. I suppose I now know how people named Roxanne in the states feel…

Carmencita

This name was to be expected. Adding the diminutive -ito (masculine) or -ita (feminine) to names is a common way to show affection throughout all spanish speaking countries. I get this one most often at work from the older men. That probably sounds creepy, but it’s not. It’s like a grandpa calling you “sweetheart”.

Chinita

Yes, this one basically means “little chinese girl”. Clearly, I’m not chinese, but this one is used for basically anyone of asian origin. I don’t get it often, because many people think I’m just from another Latin American country (you know, until they hear my lackluster spanish…), but the next closest volunteer is more obviously Filipina and she is almost always referred to as the Chinita. I thought at first I might find this one a little offensive, but nobody means it in a negative way and I’ve actually come to consider it kind of humorous.

Seño

This one is the shortened version of Señor, Señora and Señorita that children use for elders. The kids call me this at my youth groups. And when I say “call” I mean “scream repeatedly until they get my attention”. This one makes me feel kind of old.

Muñeca

This literally means “doll”. It’s cute when it’s the older grandpa types at work calling me this. They’ll come into the office, exclaim “Carmen, muñeca hermosa!” and give me a big hug. It’s not cute when it’s creepers yelling at me on my walks home. It starts with the ubiquitous “CH-CH” noise that people use here to get your attention and is followed by something like “Hola muñeca bonita. Adonde vas?” (Hello pretty doll, where are you going?). I pull the oblivious gringa routine in these instances and just keep walking.

Zanahoria con Lentes

Really, only my host brother from my training family called me this, but it’s probably my favorite. We were sitting at dinner and he was telling the housegirl, Sandra, about how she looked like a carrot (no idea why, I didn’t think she looked like a carrot). So his mom asked him what I was.

“Carmen is a carrot too. A carrot with glasses.”

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2 Responses to My Many Names

  1. Elizabeth (sobrenombre: Yensul/Yensie) says:

  2. FerFer says:

    I’m not sure why someone even felt the need to make a stock photo of this, but I thought I would share.

    I don’t see the resemblance.

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