My favorite new word from the past week or so is pinitos. Here’s the sentence I saw it in:

Los primeros pinitos en el arte de tocar el piano. 

Whatever pinitos meant (and it was fairly clear from the context), I had to incorporate it into my regular vocabulary y ya. Love at first sight.

It turns out that pinitos means your first steps when venturing into something new. Your shaky, unsure toddles. Literally, the phrase refers to the tottering steps of a sick person or a baby learning to walk. One ancient dictionary from 1726 that I found online said: hazer pinitos- to endeavor to walk after ficknefs. Ficknefs! Of course, that’s an extremely old spelling of sickness. As you can see, hacer pinitos is a time-honored expression, so there’s no need to put it in quotes or think you’re guilty of using dastardly slang. In some countries, they say hacer pininos instead. Also, primeros pinitos is obviously redundant, but it’s still said.

Estoy haciendo mis pinitos como dj, ojalá aprende rápido.

I’m just breaking into deejaying; hopefully I’ll be a fast learner.

Lleva 6 meses presentando la sección deportiva en el noticiero de NBC e hizo sus pinitos televisivos trabajando en Miami.

She’s been presenting the sports section for the NBC news desk for 6 months and cut her television teeth working in Miami.

Si quieres dar tus primeros pinitos en el mundo del Linux, haz clic aquí.

If you want to try your hand at Linux, click here.

Qué doble moral la de Uribe apoyando el paro cuando en su gobierno se sembraron los pinitos de la actual crisis agraria.

How two-faced of Uribe to be supporting the strike when the seeds of the current agricultural crisis were sown during his government.

Why, precisely, pinitos? Little pine trees? It’s not altogether clear to me. I’ve learned that hacer el pino is how they say to do a handstand in Spain (pararse de manos or hacer la vertical in Latin America), so maybe that has something to do with it. The DRAE refers to the definition of pino that, as an adjective, means very straight, steep. So haciendo pinitos, perhaps, is supposed to give us the idea of someone tottering and lurching and continuously trying to straighten themselves back up. Kind of like a Weeble.

One translation for pinitos that I thought of was baby steps. This makes me think of What About Bob?, one of my favorite movies as a kid. In the movie, the psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin has a bestselling book called Baby Steps. According to Wikipedia, What About Bob? went by the titles ¿Qué pasa con Bob? and ¡Qué tal Bob! in the Spanish-speaking world. (I personally think that Y de Bob, ¿qué? is more on the money) It looks like Baby Steps was known as Pasitos de bebé, alas.

What About Bob? Baby Steps

Are you haciendo tus primeros pinitos in anything right now? That is, have you taken up anything new in a while? None of us can really say we’re taking pinitos in Spanish– that wobbly beginning stage is long past us. If anything, we’ve moved on to what we can call brinquitos. Tomorrow, marathons. Then skydiving in Spanish. The pinitos stage is certainly fun and exhilarating, but to stay stuck there forever (as the vast majority do) would be really unfortunate.

8 responses to “Pinitos

  1. I’ve heard another version of the word “pinitos”, which is: “pininos” :)


  2. Oh good, I’ve learned a new word today :)


  3. Nice! I’ve fallen behind on your blog and this is a great post to start getting myself back up to date.


  4. Well thoroughly enjoying your blog!
    From now on pontius will be part of my vocab a nice new addition


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