Niña or Muchacha?
by Bruce McGovern
Over the years, I have tried
and tried to find out what the difference is between “niña” and “muchacha.”
Clearly, though they are both translated as “young female,” there is a
difference – because sometimes my wife would correct me when I used the wrong
But, as many times as I have
asked different people to explain the difference, I got no satisfaction.
I clearly had been asking the wrong person.
In February, my nephew, the
truck driver from Cordoba, came with us on our return trip to DF, to try to buy
a VW Beetle, a wasted trip since all of them for sale were highly experienced
One day, I asked him my ‘niña’
question, expecting to get no useful information, as usual.
He immediately said, “I
use niña from age 1 to 15, and muchacha from age 16 to maybe 20.
And, I use jovencita from age 20 to, well, maybe 35.”
And, he laughed at the last comment, so I assume he may be using a little
flattery on women a bit beyond the jovencita age group.
When I told the family what
he had said, they agreed – though
in the past when I asked, they were unable to give me that information.
Well, now I know. My only problem is, they all look pretty young these days...