“La Patita” by Cri-Cri, English translation of original Spanish version

“The Little Lady Duck” / “Mama Webster”
Style: Children’s song about a money-strapped mother duck
Country: Mexico
Listen: YouTube. Also, this website has mp3 files. “La Patita” is on the second column.


La patita
De canasta y con reboso de bolita
Va al mercado
A comprar todas las cosas del mandado.

Mama Webster
With basket and polka dotted shawl
Goes to market
To buy all the things for groceries.

Se va meneando al caminar
Como los barcos en alta mar.

She waddles as she walks
Like the boats in high tide.

La patita
Va corriendo y buscando en su bolsita
Centavitos para darles de comer a sus patitos
Porque ya sabe que al retornar
Toditos ellos preguntaran:

Mama Webster
Goes running and searching in her little bag
For little cents to feed her ducklings
Because she knows that on returning
Every one of them will ask:

¿Qué me trajiste mamá cua cua?
¿Qué me trajiste cuara cua cua?

What did you bring me, mother, qua qua?
What did you bring me, quara qua quack?

La patita como tú,
De canasta y con reboso de bolita como tú,
Se ha enojado como tú
Por lo caro que está todo en el mercado.

Mama Webster like you,
With basket and polka dotted shawl like you,
Has gotten mad like you
Over how costly everything is in the market.

Como no tiene para comprar
Se pasa el día en regatear.

Since she doesn’t have with which to buy
She spends the day haggling.

Sus patitos van creciendo y no tienen zapatitos
Y su esposo es un pato sin vergüenza y perezoso
Que no da nada para comer
¿Y la patita (pues) que va hacer?

Her ducklings continue growing and they don’t have shoes
And her husband is a shameless and sluggish duck
Who does not bring anything for food
And Mama Webster, (well) what will she do?

Cuando le pidan, contestara,
Coman mosquitos cuara cua cua.

When they ask her, she will answer,
Eat mosquitos, quara qua quack.

Translation Notes:

You know… This is the kind of stuff that sociologists can study. Poverty even makes its way into the children’s songs. It’s rather subversive, too, isn’t it? Cri-Cri is awesome.

I translated this before I realized there was an official English version. It’s called “Mama Webster.”

La patita = The little (adult, female) duck

Little does not refer to age or size here. It’s an affectionate diminutive. This song is full of affectionate diminutives.

I left it untranslated because the song uses “la patita” as a sort of title and name. I changed it to “Mama Webster” because that’s what the official English version uses.

No da nada para comer
Does not bring anything for food
Does not give anything to eat [lit.] – reference to husbands who do not give money to their wives to buy food for the family

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