Tue, May 16, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Spanish phone book lists villagers under their nicknames

CALL ME PATATA While many have found the new phone book useful, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of seeing his/her nickname in print


If you are looking for Johnny "the Potato" or his wife, "Chinese" Luciana, the Spanish phone book may not be much help if none of their neighbors can recall their real names.

The habit of giving people nicknames leads to so much confusion in Spanish country towns and villages that the 600 inhabitants of Cedillo, in western Spain, have published their own phone book -- using nicknames instead of real names.

It means that Johnny the Potato can be found under P for Patata while Luciana is under C for Chinita.

From Pedro "the Whistle" to "Balls" Francisca, the Cedillo phone book is designed to give people the quickest and easiest way of finding their neighbors' phone numbers and addresses.

The new guide also helps distinguish between those who share real names with them now defined by their individual nicknames.

The phone book was the idea of the town's mayor, Antonio "Booties" Gonzalez.

"My mother bought me some boots when I was a little boy and the heels clicked on the pavement, so my brother called me Botines" [booties]," he said. Over time that has been reduced to the diminutive "Boti."

When he campaigned for mayor he used his nickname rather than his real name, printing posters saying "Vote Boti."

Even streets have nicknames in Cedillo. These, which are often used more than the proper names, are also given in the book.

Comandante Carrillo Street becomes The Street of Juana's Shop, and the grand-sounding Marques of Guadalcazar Street is reduced to The Church's Street.

Not everybody in Cedillo is happy with the new phone book, however.

A man known as "Baldy" and another called "Peg-leg" asked to be registered under their proper surnames.

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