"Little War"

1
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When I was reading about the Napoleonic Wars in Spain, I came across a passage explaining that when the Spanish peasants revolted against the French puppet government, they started the "guerrillito," or something spelled similarly, which meant "little war." It was called the "little war" because of the famous Spanish partisans (or "guerrillas"), who didn't fight in the conventional method of warfare, instead relying on surprise attacks, and then quick retreats into mountains or other areas where the French could not find them. Thus, the passage explains, they more or less invented guerrilla warfare.

In Spanish class last week, we were talking about Pinoché and other South American dictators, and we started talking about guerrilla warfare. Since I (thought) I knew the word for guerrilla warfare, I supplied the word "guerrillito." However, my teacher told me that word doesn't exist, and explained that the world "little war" in Spanish would be "guerro pequeño." After looking around on SD, I couldn't find any supporting evidence for this.

Because of that passage I read, I thought there was some sort of rule that operated along the lines of "perro" turning into "perrito" (dog to "little dog" or puppy). So, after this long winded explanation, is there a word (NOT a phrase) in Spanish that means "little war"?

5150 views
updated ENE 25, 2010
posted by JCameron

4 Answers

1
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Yes, there exists a rule. The noun form that you are looking for is called, "El diminutivo." I am going to copy a section that I have from one of my translation textbooks (En otras palabras, Patricia V. Lunn and Ernest J. Lunsford, Georgetown U.P. Washington D.C., 2003). It is written in Spanish:

"Entre la abundante morfología que existe en espanñol para modificar el significado de las palabras, hay un sufijo que aparece con gran frecuencia: el diminutivo. De los varios sufijos diminutivos, -ito, -illo, -ico, -in, el primero es el más común. Es imposible abarcar todos los usos y sifnificados de este sufijo, pero el diminutivo es tan común que merece especial mención. El sifnicicado básico del diminutivo (compare el v. dsiminuir y el adj. diminuto) es el de reducción- de tamaño, de importancia, de sinceridad. Por lo tanto, todo lo qeu se asocia con lo pequeño- bueno y malo- puede asociarse con el diminutivo. Al leer esta sección, fíjese en las múltiples maneras de traducir el diminutivo al inglés. libro-> librito (booklet) mantel-> mantelito (placemat)

Con el adjetivo, el diminutivo significa (objetivamente) un menor grado de una cualidad, o (subjetivamente) que el hablante no quiere que su descripción ofende a nadie: bajo-> bajito (on the short side) nervioso -> nerviosito (kind of nervious)

A veces, el diminutivo minimiza la posible agresividad de un mandato o petición, y así suaviza la comunicación: favor-> ¿Puedes hacerme un favorcito? -> (Can you please do me a little favor?) tiempo-> Necesito un tiempito más -> (I need just a little more time.)

Metafóricamente, se puede utilizar el diminutivo para reducir el valor- concreto o subjetivo- de algo:

película-> una películita (a lightweight movie) año-> 50 añitos (a mere 50 years)," (Lunn and Lunsford, 15-16)

There is more written on this, but as you can see, your use of "guerrita" in class probably to your teacher sounded like you meant to say that the guerras sucias of Pinochet and others were of little importance. In the context of which the article was written which you cite, it seems to me that the guerrilla wars were called guerritas because a lot of people did not engage in that activity and/or not enough to make a huge impact. I don't know if this example might help, but maybe a state militia vs. federal army. Of course, if you have any questions, you should consult with your Spanish teacher. He/she can give you a more in-depth reason as to why "guerrita" was offensive or improper in the context in which you used it. I hope this helps!

updated ENE 25, 2010
posted by Kerri
1
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si, guerrita

updated ENE 26, 2010
posted by margarolapola
1
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almost every noun can turn into a little thing cama = camita guerra = guerrita batalla = batallita

updated ENE 25, 2010
posted by margarolapola
0
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I googled it and found nothing. Also nothing in the VOX dictionary I have.But your question about the diminutive ending seems a good one.

updated ENE 24, 2010
posted by nizhoni1