Only a Puerto Rican can understand and relate to these popular Puerto Rican tems of endearment and expressions of love. However, being in a bicultural relationship means conveying and explaining to my better half that if I call you Papi/Pai, I’m not really calling you Daddy. It’s simply a term of endearment for males. In my case, for my husband, and son whom I call Papi, and they both respond. Hahaha!
Same goes with Mami/Mai. We call all of the women in our lives Mami not only our mother but our sister, girlfriend, cousin, nieces, etc. I find it hilarious when visiting my Mom in Puerto Rico, and have my nieces over, and I call them Mami and my Mom is in the kitchen responding ¿Qué?; and I say, it’s not you! She seriously gets annoyed. Sweet!
Other terms of endearment are corazón de melón (melon heart) which refers to you being sweet, or big-hearted person. Calling someone negrito/negrita (literal translation is little black) is not an insult or demeaning it’s simply another term of endearment used to refer to anyone of any skin color who is Puerto Rican. For instance, Negrita, ven acá. Hola negro.
Puerto Ricans love to ask for La bendición (asking for the blessing) is usually the first and the last word you say when you approach or leave your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. When we visit Puerto Rico I often remind my son, “Don’t forget to say bendición to Abuela.” Right after that precious word that I hold dear to my heart, I hear the words “Dios te bendiga…” Followed by a “…hija, negrita, mi amor.” Of course, it’s a Puerto Rican thing so it’d sound funny if he tells his African American grandma Bendición. Heading back home at the airport, and bidding our farewell I say to Mami “Bendición” and she hugs us, and says “Dios los bendiga.”
Last but not least important, is our famous ¡Wepa! Not so much of an endearment, but an expression of celebration, joy and jubilation. Pronounced “weh-pah” and you yell the word! LOL Wepa is a Puerto Rican expression of pride!