Girlfriend or esposa? Cultural scenarios in translation

Megan S Fuller, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


In the United States only married couples are called by the terms husband and wife. In Mexico, both married and unmarried cohabiting couples are referred to as esposo and esposa, terms usually translated as 'husband' and 'wife'. By using schema theory, American and Mexican cultural scenarios of marriage are developed and compared. The characteristics most important to terminological usage are determined. For Americans, the terms husband and wife indicate partners with a permanent commitment to each other. Mexicans, on the other hand, use the terms esposo and esposa as indices of adult status, which can be achieved through cohabitation.