I don’t know exactly what got me on this train of thought today, but I was thinking about how many people in my family have nicknames. And not just regular nicknames, that are short for something, like Mike or Joe or Jen. No, these nicknames are like baby’s first words. Which, I think, is probably where they originally derived.
For example, my sister Maria is “Tati” to me. From what I’ve been told, when I was little I couldn’t pronounce “Mari” (her nickname), so I changed it to Tati. Then everybody started calling her that. Along those lines, to my cousin’s kids, my niece is “Tata.” As far back as I can recall, my aunt has been called “Yaya” and her son, Jose, is “Pepi.” And his dad, Jose Sr., was “Pepin” or “Pepe.” My dad is “Mini” (mee-nie, i.e., the little one) to his entire family, and “Pa” to my niece. She also calls my mom “Lela” and her paternal grandmother “Lolo.” Her paternal grandfather? He’s “Po.”
The funny thing about it, is that even though most of these names were started by kids in the family, eventually everyone picked up on them. There is not a single person in my family that does not call my parents Lela and Pa. Isn’t that odd?
Of course, I realized that it isn’t just my family. I believe every single Hispanic person I know has at least one Tito or Nana in their family. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to joke that if you drive down any street in Miami and yell “-ito!!” out the window, at least five people would turn around. I don’t think he was that far off the mark.
So what are the odd nicknames in your family, and how did they come about? I’d love to know we’re not the only weirdos out there. =)
Peace out, yo!