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According to this question by Diego ¿Quiénes serían los "piggybackers" y los "tailgaters"? the practice of carrying a child on your shoulders is called caballito in Spanish. To quote him

llevar a alguien a hombros o a caballito,

But the DLE definition states as its first definition

Juego para entretener a un niño, que consiste en sentarlo sobre las rodillas e imitar el trote o galope del caballo.

which unless I have misunderstood uses the word for knee not shoulders. Have I misunderstood the dictionary?

The reason I am interested is because I was trying to establish whether piggyback was a cultural universal as I am reviewing a scientific paper which uses it and I am interested in how widely it would be understood.

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    Yo voy a decir que sí. Creo que esa entrada del diccionario recoge "hacer el caballito", tanto para la primera de lo de las rodillas como la segunda sobre una moto. No explica "llevar a caballito" (para llevar sobre el lomo), ni como entrada ni como locución adverbial. Ahora, la mayoría de los traductores traducen "piggyback" como llevar a caballito – Diego Mar 16 at 18:58
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In Mexico (in the state I live in) we use the expression "cargar de caballito" or "llevar de caballito". In other states people use other expressions such as: a mamanche, de camachito, de pilonche, hacer cuch, a camiachi, and many others. All of them with the same meaning.

You can see more words for piggyback used in different parts of Mexico in this tweet: https://twitter.com/Lauentuiter/status/1050437042742661120

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