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Husband and Wife: Not so simple in Spanish

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Just a few days back, I had a little discussion with a friend on whether the correct Spanish translation for “Husband and Wife” is “Marido y Mujer” or “Esposo y Esposa”. Now, I am what you would call “old school”, I was raised with the values of an older generation, things like respecting my elders, never raise my voice or disrespect my mother, father, grandparents, or any family member who is my senior, the list goes on. Those are things that I was taught from a very early age, things that I consider to be the basis for my core values, which I will of course carry on to the next generation of my children, and grandchildren, if possible. And so, my friend was arguing that the term “Marido y Mujer” was sexist and demeaning to women and that it should be changed to “Esposo y Esposa”, as the latter has a connotation of equality between the genders.

I started my point by telling her that since the beginning of “Marriage” as we know it, when the priest ends with the words “I now declare you Husband and Wife”, the translation has always been “Ahora los declare Marido y Mujer”, never has the phrase “Esposo y Esposa” been used in a wedding ceremony. Now, just because it has been the tradition for thousands of years to use the “Marido y Mujer” terminology, does not make it the right terminology, time changes, and traditions change with it. Therefore, I went a little deeper; I searched for the Real Academia Española’s definition of these two terms. The Real Academia Española defines “Esposo” as someone who is married, very generic and general, and has the same definition for “Esposa”, a very generic and general one. In contrast to this, the definition for “Marido” was a married man, in relationship to his wife, and the definition for “Mujer” in terms of marriage, was a married woman, in relationship to her husband. I agreed with her, in the sense that “Esposo y Esposa” was a generic and general definition, which is to a point, fitting with this new age and era, but I think she was able to understand my point when she saw that the definitions for “Marido y Mujer” was not just a man and woman who got married, but that they were married in respect to the husband and the wife.

It seems to me, that although this ancient definition may seem sexist and demeaning to women, when you look at the definition, it clearly states that “Marido y Mujer” are not just married people, but married people who belong to each other, he belongs to her, and she belongs to him. And I’m not sure if I was able to convince her, but she did at least agree with me that she would rather have a terminology that clearly states that she and her husband are now one, belonging to each other in marriage, than just a simple and generic “married people” title. Call me “old school”, but I think this definition has a deeper, more meaningful definition of what it means to marry someone, and share a life together as one, and belonging to each other. But, what do you think? Would you agree with my ideology that “Marido y Mujer” has a clearer, deeper definition of what Marriage is? Or do you agree with my friend that it should be changed to “Esposo y Esposa” as it should more fitting with today’s times?

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