December 20, 2013

Dominican Myths

"What are you doing for your birthday?" I asked my host sister.

She responded, "Nothing, my birthday is on Tuesday the 13th, if I leave my house bad things will happen."

I proceeded to try and convince my 13 year old host sister that nothing bad would befall her on her birthday. I told her that in the U.S. Friday the 13th is an unlucky day not Tuesday, but I couldn't convince her. I wasn't around on her birthday to force her out of the house so she stayed inside - no one thought she was being unreasonable. Myths reign supreme here in the D.R., and there are a lot of myths. Some are similar to ones we hear in the states like Tuesday vs Friday the 13th but I know of nothing comparable in the U.S. to those listed below:
  • If you always eat out of the pot on the stove, it will rain on your wedding day.
  • If a child crawls around on the floor like a baby, there soon will be a real baby in the family.
  • If you drink coffee standing up all your plans will be ruined.
  • Sweeping your house at night is bad luck.
  • Thieves have animals that can change forms to help them rob. The animals are workers of the devil.
  • If you cut wood during a new moon, it will rot.
Menstruation Myths:
  • If a menstruating woman eats fruit, she will get tuberculosis.
  • If a menstruating woman holds a new born baby, the baby will be unable to breathe and can die.
  • Sometimes the reason behind a prohibition is simply, "bad things will happen..."
    • If a menstruating woman washes her hair.
    • If a menstruating woman enters the family farm.
    • If a menstruating woman paints her fingernails. (This last one always causes problems during my girls club as some girls are always sad that they can't paint their fingernails - I try to convince them it is safe, but they don't want to take the chance or get in fights with their moms - never thought I would be a bad influence.)

Now that you are in the know, make sure to keep your babies away from menstruating women, and don't let your kids act like babies unless you want another one. Also, remember to mark on your calendar the next Tuesday the 13th - it isn't until May but it is never too early to start preparing!

December 18, 2013

Dominicanisms III

Dominicans use so much slang that a good amount of my language training has been dedicated to learning how to speak like a Dominican. I spent the last week in the capital reviewing all the Spanish I have learned, and discovered I still have a ways to go before I can speak Dominican. Here is some of the new vocabulary I learned:

  • Acabar-  to say negative things about someone
  • Alelado/a - someone with their head in the clouds
  • Que se acabó  / Por Pipá - when there is a lot of something. The first phrase means without end, the second that there is enough for someone named Pipá. I don't think anyone knows who is Pipá.
  • Dar carpeta - to bother. Carpeta is a folder so it started as a phrase to describe people who give out a lot of work but now is commonly used to describe annoying children.
  • Cuquicá  / Hecho en China - something of low quality. The second phrase means Made in China.
  • Mojiganga - a fool
  • Ñapa - to give a little more. This can refer to many things food, money, time, and is also used to ask a significant other for a little more lovin'.
  • Matatán - someone smart.
  • Aguajero / Parejero / Fantamoso - a big talker.
  • Barsa / Rumba - describes something as being in a large amount
  • Lío - a problem
  • Viralata - can refer to street dogs or men in a very negative way.
  • Resaca - a hang-over
  • Cherecha - a party
  • Tollo - a mess, disaster

Now a special section just on physical violence:
  • Bimbar - to beat-up someone
  • Galleta / Bofetada - a slap
  • Pecosón - Slap on the back of the head
  • Cocotazo - a knock on the head
  • Trompón / Trompada - a closed fist punch
  • Roquitoqui - a flick to the head with ones fingers
  • Aruñón - scratch
  • Tablazo / Yaguazo - when one walks into something (finally a word for something I do all the time!)
  • Estrayón - when one trips themselves

I also learned a good amount of vulgar words (you gotta know how to respond!) but I won't be posting those here. But if you want to curse off a Dominican in their native tongue shoot me an email and I'll get you sorted out.