Everyone Is Jumping Off the Brooklyn Bridge

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Words to Your Mother: Amiga

The original Amiga (1985)
This computer is an Amiga.
The woman on the screen might
also be an amiga.
If you own one of these,
she is likely your only amiga.

An amiga is a female friend in the Spanish or Portuguese languages.  When I say "female friend", this is not with any of the implications some might take from this phrase in English.  It is literally a friend who is female.  The person using the term may be either male or female.  If the friend is male, the more common "amigo" would be used instead.

In Spanish, Portuguese, and many other romance languages (including French and Italian), all nouns are either masculine or feminine.  Generally the adjective will change sounds to agree with the gender of the noun.  For example, a man (or "masculine" object) might be "bueno" (good), but a woman (or "feminine" object) would be "buena".

In this case it is the noun rather than the adjective that is being modified (although connected adjectives would be modified as well), but this is common when the noun refers to a person rather than an object with an arbitrary gender.

Notable is the fact that groups of individuals are only referred to in the feminine if the entire group is female.  If there are both men and women in the group, than the group is considered masculine (linguistically speaking, that is).

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