tote: a disapproving word?

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by susantash, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. susantash Senior Member

    Español de Uruguay
    Hello everyone!

    I'm not sure if this thread belongs in this forum, but anyway here it goes.
    I get the idea that this word is used as some kind of disapproving comment.
    Here's the story. I am Jewish but I don't follow the tradition in any way. The thing is that yesterday I went to a sinagogue because there was a special celebration in honour to my best friend's son.
    This sinagogue is a very strict one, and even when I knew I had to wear a skirt, I didn't. I decided to wear formal trousers, instead.
    So, when I arrived to the women section, among the other women there was a mum with her two little boys (around three or four years old), and as soon as the boys saw me, one of them told his mummy: "look, mummy; there's a toté" (accenting the last vowel). The mother didn't respond to the comment, to which the boy made the same comment again. Still, the mother didn't say a word. (Presumably she considered it was kind kind of disrespectful to aknowledge the comment since i was present) All the other women were chatting, so it's not that she didn't speak because it was one of those "no speaking, just hearing" moments.

    Judging from the whole picture, I think it has to be some kind of disapproving word to refer to a woman.

    Am I Right?

    One more thing: in case it's relevant. The scene took place here in Uruguay, and the boy speaks Spanish.
  2. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    You should ask this on the Spanish forum as well, since it sounds more like Spanish slang to me than Hebrew. How certain are you that the word was toté? Is it possible that you misheard slightly?
  3. susantash Senior Member

    Español de Uruguay
    I don't think I've misheard it. Besides the child said it twice. His speech seemed to be fully developed, so we can't attribute this to "children" speech.
    I'll ask in the spanish forum as well, but the reason I asked my question here is because from what I could observe, jewish people insert (I suppose it's) Hebrew words all the time, mostly nouns, in their normal speech in Spanish.
  4. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    True, but I would not expect a 3/4 year old to sprinkle their language with Hebrew words, however it is still possible.
    The closest thing I can think of in Hebrew is tuta (טוטה), which is slang for female genitals, so I think we can rule that out!
    Let's see what other people have to say, but it seems to me that this is going to be hard to work out, without asking the child himself what he meant.
    Just out of interest, what exactly did he say originally (in Spanish)?
  5. susantash Senior Member

    Español de Uruguay
    Child's words exactly: (comment 1) "Mirá mamá, una toté"
    Mother: (silence)
    Child's comment 2: Mamá, hay una toté
    Mother: Qué pasa (child's name)?
    Child's comment 3: una toté.
    (If my memory is accurate) Mother: Bueno, tá.
  6. GeriReshef

    GeriReshef Senior Member

    I must say this word doesn't sound familiar to me, nor even sounds as an Hebrew one.
    Ashkenazi Jews outside Israel tend to pronounce words in מלעיל (=llana) even when we (native Hebrew speakers) pronounce them in מלרע (=águda). More than that- מלרע words (nouns, verbs, adjectives..) ending with é are in masculine, not in feminine.
    In Yidish you may find words like táte, bóbe etc., but they are in מלעיל.
  7. Tararam Senior Member

    Maybe it's Ladino?

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