Latina, Latino culture

The A to Z Challenge: Day 2, B is for Bueno or Bueno?

1960’s telephone, photo by Annie Spratt for


Hello to the letter B, the second letter in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

The challenge is to write a series of 26 posts, using the letter A to Z on each day except for Sunday’s. That’s a day of rest.

The theme of these 26 posts was described in yesterday’s entry.

Today’s letter: B.

B is for Bueno which can mean Hello? Good. Well? Okay or All right.

This is dependent on the inflection and tone of the word when it’s used.

Letter B presented here to keep you and me on track.

See that 1960’s or 70’s telephone up there. Well, growing up we had one. One year it was white, another time it was aqua, and once it was avocado green. My mother liked to decorate.

First, you need to know that my mother did not teach us Spanish. In her day kids in school were punished for speaking Spanish in the playground or class or anywhere a teacher could be found.

However, we heard Spanish in our household and among our relatives especially when the adults wanted to talk in private among their children. We picked up words and phrases, cobbled together sentences until we learned more Spanish in high school.

But, back to the B.

The word Bueno baffled me. It had different meanings whenever Mom answered the phone. It could be:

1- Bueno? as in “Hello?”

2-Bueno! as in “Que bueno!” “That’s good,” or “that’s cool,” or “All right!”

3-Bueno said in a quick to the point tone which meant “okay, I got it.”

4-Or, if she wasn’t on the telephone and standing over me, hands on hips, saying “Bueno?” that meant, “Well? Explain yourself.”

An example:

The first time I called a friend, at home, and heard the father answer with Bueno? I didn’t know what to do except to ask for my friend. She came on the line and mentioned that her father found me to be impolite because I asked for her without responding to him.

The conversation should have gone like this:

Father: Bueno? 

Me:   Hola, es Monica, (Hello, this is Monica). Cómo está usted? (How are you?)

After that, I could proceed to ask for his daughter. This is because he said ‘hello’ to me first.

Later I learned that if one did not master this phone etiquette, in Spanish, parents would say, as my friend’s father did, “where was she raised, in a barn?”

He may have used a B-word to describe my lack of social etiquette: B for Burra, donkey.

I never divulged that incident to my mother, she’d have been horrified, mortificada. 

See you tomorrow with the letter C.

Don’t forget to leave a link to your post if you’re doing the A to Z challenge.




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