MR is a student at Carleton University but currently lives in Texas with her family. Her parents are both Mexican immigrants and she was born in Canada, but they have all lived in the United States for over a decade. She is a linguist who speaks multiple languages. 

TEXT: ‘cafecito’

MR- It’s used when, like, you’re done with a meal and now it’s time for talking at the table. Maybe you have a cookie or like a little dessert or like a little cup of coffee or tea and you just table talk. You have cafecito to have table talk. Cafecito is commonly used by Spanish-speaking people because it’s just a diminutive of cafe (coffee), but me and my family and friends use it a lot more frequently and more versatile. My non-Spanish speaking friends know what it means when I ask for them to come over for a quick cafecito. 

ANALYSIS: The progression of cafecito as a phrase represents the values of MR and her bilingual family. Dinner time is an important time for many families, eating all together and not leaving the table until everyone is done. Sharing time together around a meal is crucial to MR’s lifestyle, and the evolution of the use of the word cafecito captures that. While the direct translation of the word just means coffee, when asking for some cafecito there is a desire for communal gathering and conversation, not just a drink. In a world where having a screen in front of your face throughout the whole day is becoming ever more pertinent, it’s important to have moments of true connection and honest conversations, without any added social pressures. Having cafecito after a meal allows for a calm and open area for people to commune and relax, with just good company and treats to keep one occupied. Using the word Cafecito in this way is also very reflexive of the bilingual experience. In many multilingual families, words and phrases quickly take on new or double meanings. The abundance of communication routes does not always mean that there are words that can capture what one means, and often there is a word in one language that better captures the feeling you are trying to convey in another. Cafecito evolved into a multilingual term, having various meanings depending on the sentence in which it is included and able to be used in multiple languages. The varying uses of the word Cafecito all represent the importance of community and communication in our modern world and the ways that language can evolve to fit our needs.