Is there any truth in Galician clichés?

Originally published by ABC.es on 14 December 2012. Translated by Seth Brooks.

Galicians are said to be an indecisive people that never know if they are going up a staircase or down and that they always answer with a question or an “it depends”. The clichés about the idiosyncrasies of the people of this autonomous community are numerous and varied.

  • Indecision. One of the metaphors often used to describe Galicians is the staircase. The “you never know if they are going up or down” is universal, although many disagree with this facet of the Galician personality.
  • “It depends”. Closely linked to the above feature is the lack of definition. It is a rather widespread notion that the Galicians tend to answer with a new question or an equivocation, right?
  • La retranca. The sense of humor of this land has a name and it is la retranca. A healthy mix of sarcasm and irony that its inhabitants dominate perfectly and that can try the patience of others.
  • Everywhere. “Wherever you go you will find a Galician”. Between myth and reality, this cliché refers to the emigrant past of its people and their ability to stand up to the difficulties of undertaking new plans where they have an opportunity. A virtue rather than a cliché that is again relevant today.
  • Hard workers. Related to the adventurism of Galicians is one of the most universal characteristics: their ability to work. Nobody doubts their dedication and know-how, a feature known on any point on the map.
  • Distrustful. Despite being one of the most hospitable people, the Galicians are also known to be distrustful people who take time to open themselves to others. When they do, as the cliché says, you’ve made a friend for life.
  • The –iños. Riquiño and feitiño are terms that the inhabitants of this land have made universal. Hence, many think all the words in their language end with -iño.
  • La morriña. The universal feeling par excellence that Rosalia de Castro described and all Galicians feel when away from their land. More than a cliché, it is a way of life.
  • “If there are any…they exist”. And of course, the “habelas haila” that suggests the magical past of this corner of the Atlantic and one of its most feared and respected denizens: witches.
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