Qué Pasa/A Father's Day Spanish lesson: Caballero

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Sunday is a special day around the world set aside to celebrate the important men in our lives, our fathers. Everyone has their own special way of calling them, "daddy," "father," "pop," "papa," "dad."

Just as there are special terms of referring to fathers, we have certain terms when referring to images of men and in Mexico a term "caballero" (cah-bah-YEH-roh) is used.

Dating back to the Middle Ages is Spain, cabellero literally meant "horseman" which then came to mean a name of high social rank who fought on horseback for the king at their own expense, in exchange for favors from the throne.

With the passing of time, caballero came to be associated with the etiquette affected by the Spaniards in Mexico, and eventually the term took on the meaning of "gentleman" to refer to the manners and character of Spanish men in general.

Later in Mexico the standards of character and conduct originally associated with caballero were changed and today is meant as men who are above the average in character and behavior, and is often used as flattery or in an honorary manner.

Today this definition of gentleman in Mexico is similar to the way the term in used in the United States and elsewhere. To describe any man as "muy caballero" is a means of high praise and means "very gentlemanly" or "very polite."

When judging the character of a man as a caballero or gentleman, it is important to keep in mind that in order for it to be true to its meaining, your judgment needs to be made according to the context of the culture.

So as we celebrate Father's Day, let him know what a true cabellero he really is.

Now for a Spanish lesson:

When you want to wish a happy Father's Day to someone, you would say:

"Fel'z d'a de los padres." -- "Happy Father's Day."

Hasta el proximo miércoles. (Until next Wednesday.)

Carrie Tyler is an Hispanic issues consultant and Spanish interpreter/translator in Marshall.