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Playing cards A-10 are named expectedingly, As, followed by dos through diez. But the Jack, Queen and King are called (at least in my experience):

  • Jota
  • Qüina
  • Rey

I can understand calling a card by the letter on it, but only Jota does that.

I can understand using a loanword, but only Qüina does that.

And I can understand translating the word, but only Rey does that.

What gives?

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It's the first time I read Quena for the Queen; are you sure about that name? Anyway, I've always heard (and used) Jota, Cu and Ka (the name of the corresponding letter) to refer to the Jack, Queen, and King, respectively. –  Gonzalo Medina Jan 7 '12 at 5:44
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I witnessed a card game here in Guadalajara with a Mexican family in which they used those names. And when I questioned them about the names, they didn't offer any alternate naming scheme. Of course this doesn't mean these are by any means "official" names :) –  Flimzy Jan 7 '12 at 5:51
    
Ah, I see; I just wanted to be sure since I had never heard Quena for the Queen before. –  Gonzalo Medina Jan 7 '12 at 5:53
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I've always used Jota, Qüina (note the "ü") and Rey. –  dusan Jan 7 '12 at 15:01
    
@dusan: Thanks, that's probably what I meant, too... –  Flimzy Jan 9 '12 at 20:32
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1 Answer

I don't know about Mexico, but in Spain but usually play with two kind of playing cards, the French deck and the Spanish deck:

  • French deck: there are Corazones (Hearts), Picas (Spades), Diamantes/Rombos (Diamonds) and Treboles (Cloves). The cards are named As - Dos - Tres - ... - Diez - Jota/Sota - Cu/Reina - Ka/Rey. The name of the jack (Sota) comes from the similarity to the Spanish 10 card, the sota.

  • Spanish deck: there are Bastos, Oros, Copas and Espadas. The cards are named As - Dos - Tres - ... - Nueve - Sota - Caballo - Rey. In most traditional games you take out the eight and nine, and play only with 40 cards.

I know this doesn't answer your question, but these are the names of the cards where I'm from. The names you heard could be very local, even here each family has it's own names for the cards, and it's own rules for the games. This can cause confusion when playing for the first time with other people, since everyone wants to play with his own rules (the rule usually is to play with las reglas de la casa).

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+1 Excellent answer. –  CesarGon Jan 7 '12 at 14:34
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