usage of diminutives by gender or age

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Madrilenyo, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Madrilenyo New Member

    English - US
    Is one's age or gender related to the usage of diminutives? For example, would a man be less inclined, or is it less common for men, to use diminutive forms like "ahorita"?
  2. Sleptikal

    Sleptikal Senior Member

    Español — Chileno
    I don't get the point very well, perhaps could you use another example?
  3. Alisterio

    Alisterio Senior Member

    Mexico City
    UK English
    I think this is more a question of regional differences: "ahorita" is a typically Mexican expression (meaning, more or less, "about now"). I understand it is a bit frowned upon in other Spanish-speaking countries because strictly speaking you can only make a noun into a diminutive, not an adverb like "ahora". (It's not the only ungrammatical use of the diminutive in Mexico - "tantito" is another one that springs to mind.)

    If you're talking about using diminutives as a way of expressing affection - amiguito, hijito, mi perrito, etc., etc. - I SUPPOSE you could make a case that this might be more common among women rather than men, and among younger people rather than older people, but there are no hard-and-fast rules.
  4. inib

    inib Senior Member

    La Rioja, Spain
    British English
    I find that an interesting question, Madrilenyo, though I daren't offer an opinion myself, other than agreeing with Alisterio in that regional differences are probably the most important factor.
    In Spain, adverbs are not often used in the diminutive form, but adjectives are quite frequently.
    I'm sorry that this does not really answer your question.
  5. Madrilenyo New Member

    English - US
    Thank you, Alisterio. I should not have used ahorita as an example, as the the adj/noun issue that it raises may have muddied the waters, but interesting point you make that I overlooked! I do like ahorita as an example, however, in that it does not bring us into the issue of implied affection. So, all things being equal, would it be less common for a man to say "ahorita" and choose, let's say "ahora mismo" in a situation that his female counterpart, feeling and meaning the same thing, would choose "ahorita"?

    Regarding standard, more universal diminutives, like those you list, I'm also interested in their commonality, and this may be where a difference may most occur; i.e., is it less frequent for a man to say diminutives such as you mention, than for a woman to do so? And I don't mean, are men less expressive about affection, or less affectionate in general, but rather, is it just less common for a man to use the same diminutive that his wife may use about the same subject, about which they may have the same feelings, and about which they may both be communicating said affection?
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  6. Madrilenyo New Member

    English - US
    Thank you inib, I appreciate the response and the input of your experience in Spain!
  7. Madrilenyo New Member

    English - US
    Hi Sleptikal, sorry, I was vague, perhaps my response to Alisterio will help?
  8. inib

    inib Senior Member

    La Rioja, Spain
    British English
    While you wait for a much more useful and qualified answer from someone else (maybe a native), I'll just add that while I was curious about the male/female factor you mentioned, at first I didn't really think that age would have a lot to do with it.
    That is, until I thought about how very young children speak: "El perrito rosita (It's a toy!) no quiere su comidita". What's more, I think they speak like that because their slobbery parents do so all the time!
  9. Madrilenyo New Member

    English - US
    I hope we get some feedback indeed! Yes, anecdotally I've run into it more with children, too. Could indeed be a sign of a lot of affectionate talking to at home!
  10. Alisterio

    Alisterio Senior Member

    Mexico City
    UK English
    I would say not - "ahorita" is used by people of both sexes and all ages in Mexico.

    My comment that only nouns can be made into diminutives was of course a bit over-categorical - as inib points out, it is perfectly acceptable for adjectives to be diminutives as well.

    Mexicans often say that they suffer from "ititis" - i.e., they put "-ito" and "-ita" onto just about everything (both grammatically and not). It would be very common to hear people say things like: "Aquí a la vuelta hay un restaurantito donde se come delicioso", or "Este verano voy a la playita", even when the respective restaurant or beach are not necessarily all that small. However, I would say that there is no notable distinction in this usage between men and women, or people of different ages.
  11. flipy New Member

    Querétaro, Mexico
    Mexican Spanish
    Hi everybody,

    I don´t know if there is a rule about this and I´m going to speak just for myself and the people around me. I cannot generalize regarding the use of diminutives and the difference of use between men and women or kids and adults. I would say that it might be related to the group/city/school/family/etc. that you move and live in. My opinion is that kids use more often the "ito-ita" forms rather than adults and women use these forms more than men, especially if involves feelings. There are certain words that are culturally accepted with the diminutive form (ahorita,ratito, etc.) and they are used more often under informal settings. Under formal situations we try not to use these forms (work, people you don´t know,in-laws, etc.).
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  12. Madrilenyo New Member

    English - US
    Thank you Alisterio and Flipy for the comments, and perspectives. They are helpful.
  13. aurilla Senior Member

    Puerto Rico
    Am Eng/PR Spanish
    Factoid: When Mexicans and Puerto Ricans have a conversation there is always confusion with the use of "ahorita" and "ahora." For Mexicans, ahorita means now, and ahora means in a little while. For Puerto Ricans, they mean the opposite. Ahora means now, and ahorita, in a little while.

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