Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sobrenombres prevalent along border, especially in Laredo

Mitch "La Tortuga" McConnell

The crack sociological research team here at laredotejas has confirmed what many have long suspected. The Texas border area, led by Laredo, is among the richest in the country when it comes to the profuse use of nicknames, or sobrenombres in Spanish. Not only does almost everyone living along the border have a nickname, but most people actually have MORE than one. For many, nicknames have been with them as long as they can remember, having been given to them by family members. For others, the schools have been where they acquired their aliases.

Frequently, a nickname is based on a physical characteristic. These include "names" we have all heard such as Flaco, Gordo, Cabezon, Chaparro, Sambo, Prieto, Guero or Orejon. A substantial number of border residents are nicknamed, for varying reasons, after animals. These include:  pajara, zorrio, pulga, conejo, pinacate, chapulin, la tortuga, and even amphibians such as el zapo or la rana. There are even those who have been named after celebrities; columbo, woody, elvis, chupacabras, dracula, la momia. Regardless of the origin of all these nicknames, it is always amusing to find people that know others by their nicknames, but not at all by their given names. It's like "mmmm, no, i don't know him.....ohhh, you mean El tomate? Ah si".

A sure sign that the profusion of nicknames is tied to our Mexican American culture is that the further away from the border you go, the less nicknames you find, San Antonio still has quite a few but nothing on the magnitude of Laredo. Just one more unique thing about Laredo, one more reason to be Laredo Proud.

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