As y'all know, I came here already speaking Spanish. On my first night in country I quickly learned that they don't speak Spanish here. They speak Dominicano.
The Spanish language and I have a relationship. Some days I have no problems whatsoever. I understand all of the dirty jokes between my friends and complex topics in meetings and classes. Other days I struggle. I don't know what it is, but there are days when I am just not articulate. There are times when I can't remember words in English and other occasions where I don't know the word in Spanish. I suppose my first experiences really speaking started in Spain but I can really attest most of my development to my last job working with two piece of work salesmen in Mexico and Colombia. It's always interesting explaining where I learned Spanish to Dominicans.
At the first women's meeting we had I stood up, introduced myself to 100 women in my community (who I will be working with for the next two years), explained why I'm here an what I'll be doing...in Spanish of course. When I finished, a woman in the back raised her hand and said she didn't understand me and that I need to learn dominicano. I'll tell you what, it's a lucha to not let my Spanish change too much but there are some things I just can't help and other things that are necessary for understanding. Now that I'm in my site, I'm going to learn Kreyol too.
For now, I'd like to share a few of my favorite words and phrases in Dominican Spanish with you all. Obviously some of these words are used in other places but they are clave parts of the lingo here.
Si dios quiere - can be used as a nice way to say maybe, but is generally used for saying you're going to do something in the future if you get around to it. I tell my project partners nos vemos mañana y me responden si dios quiere o si dios lo permite.
"Mañana si dios quiere voy a lavar."
Un chin - I have used this in my first post here but it means un poco... O hasta un
chon de algo.
Uepa! - a general greeting or response to someone who is saying hello to you. Also can be used interjected in sentences. Here's a pic of a peace corps sticker I have on my computer.
Chapa - there is a very popular song out right now here called "Manea tu chapa" and in this case is means butt cheek. Google the song. A chapa can also be a alie or a portion of something.
Jevy - another word for cool or bien.
Vaina - I know vaina is used in other countries. But here you can have entire conversations using "vaina" and never once specify the noun you are actually talking about. The best part? It's so versatile that it can be used offensively tambien. Score.
Que lo que?
Dime a ver - all three are very common greetings and ways of asking what's up or how are you.
Pero ven acá - hold on a second, wait a minute, explain that to me
Hablador/a - someone who tells tall tales. Or blatant lies.
Tiguere - a young man or joven who dresses to the nines with his hair in braids and is usually an abusador. Always tiraring piropos at any girl that walks by. Not really interested in you, just your visa.
Also can be a compliment, that you are in the know about something.
Oh oh! - used as an interjection when you disagree with something, cant believe something, something bad happens or when you have something to say about that vaina.
Pinta o ponerse en pinta - formal clothes for going out on the town. Ponerse en pinta means to get dressed up real nice. Don't you worry, there's a blog post coming on Dominican fashion too, I just have to gather enough pics.
Pa'lla o alla - this, my loyal readers in referring to the good old US of A. And not just that, unless you specify it will be assumes you're talking about Nueva Yol.
Ahora vs ahorita - this was the absolute hardest for me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in every other country ahorita means right now and ahora means in a little bit. In the DR, it's the exact opposite.
Now, there are also some very bizarre names for common items:
Lechosa - papaya
Aguacate - avocado
Guineo - banana
Habichuela - frijoles or beans
Mata - tree or arbol
Guagua - bus
Fria/novia - cold beer
Concho - someone who drives for a living
Guapo/a - angry
I'm sure I'm forgetting something here. And when in doubt, people here invent words like its their job. Also peace corps volunteers have their own language and lingo too that potentially could warrant it's own post but I won't bore you with that.
Ya tu sabes, Kaley