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—ito, —ita: Making It Smaller, or Is It?

Among Polbo's song lyrics that are entirely in Spanish in this video, we see the diminutive of todos ("everyone" or "all") repeated in the refrain:


Ahora toditos se fueron... al sur

Now everyone's gone... south

Caption 10, Polbo - Yo era tan cool

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Why use the diminutive of todos here? Well, adding the suffix -ito to make it toditos doesn't change the meaning of the word. It simply renders it more colloquial.

You see, in Spanish adding a diminutive suffix -- namely, -ito or -ita -- is often used in informal speech -- in its extreme, in baby talk or other affectionate banter. So, a gatito (gato / "cat" + -ito) can be a little cat (or "kitty") but it can also be a big cat that you're discussing with a small person. For example:

Mira el gatito, mi amorcito
Look at the kitty, my little love

This could be said at the zoo in front of a lion's cage if we're talking baby talk. Another example:

Besitos grandes
Big affectionate kisses

Back to our song. Toditos is "everyone" said in a friendly, familiar way. Toditos is not meant to shrink the size of "everyone," just to make it more casual.




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As: A Whiz or an Ass?

Spanish is the official language of Puerto Rico, yet a large portion of the population knows English, so bilingual puns play to a wide audience. Case in point, the lyrics to this cynical song by the band Polbo:


Yo era el as de las nenas Cuando tenía dinero

I was the ace of the girls When I had money

Ahora sigo siendo el as/ass En otro idioma, tú sabrás

Now I'm still the ace/ass [bilingual pun] In another language, you know

Captions 13-16, Polbo - Yo era tan cool

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Like its English equivalent "ace," the Spanish as is both a good poker card and "a whiz" at something. The pun on as / ass works in this song because the two words are pronounced essentially the same way, with a soft "s" (unlike the word "as" in English, which is pronounced "az").

One more note regarding the bilingual audience for Yo era tan cool. The word "cool" is obviously borrowed from English. But one could argue that cool is going the way of "OK" / "okay" or "ciao" / "chau" / "chao" as a word that crosses linguistic barriers. We googled "es cool" (in Spanish) and more than 1,000,000 web pages came up. Cool, ¿no?


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