Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Useful Dominican Spanish Words and Phrases

"Se fue la luz": the power went out. (Lit: the light left.) The DR has a severe energy shortage and la luz se fue many times per day. Some places only have a few hours of luz a day.

"Inversor": inverter. This is what well-off Dominicans rely on when the luz se fue. It´s an uninterrupted power supply that charges a series of car batteries when there is power and uses those batteries to provide electricity to the house when there isn´t.

"Alla": there, America. When someone refers to "alla" with no other description, it means America. Most Dominicans have a father, brother, or cousin who is currently working "alla," generally Nueva York.

"Nueva York": New York, America. Dominicans believe that New York and America are interchangeable. I have a very hard time explaining to people that yes, I am from the USA, but no, I am not from New York. I have pulled out a map and showed them how New York is only one small corner of my country. It does not go over well.

"Ay, que calor!": Wow, it´s hot. In casual conversation, Dominicans throw out this phrase like punctuation. It is always true.

"Estas sudando": You´re sweating. This is something Dominicans frequently feel the need to point out to me. I´ve compared notes with other volunteers and found this to be true across the board. Dominicans, although they frequently comment on the heat, generally do not actually sweat. We Americans, however, sweat with great profundity. And, just in case we hadn´t noticed, Dominicans will helpfully point our sweat out to us with this useful phrase.

"Si Dios quiere": If God wills it. You may recall this phrase making previous appearances in this blog; it´s a key Dominican phrase. People use it to politely avoid meetings, to express hope about the success of projects they are unwilling to work on, and to instill fear into Americans who casually say things like "See you later!"

1 comment:

Sandy said...

I remember my friend went to Belgium and when she said she was from "Rhode Island" they looked at her like she six heads so she just started saying "near Boston" and if that didn't work she said "New York"

Also? In RI, people tend to say 'it's a wicked scorcher out there!' when it is hot.

So maybe Rhode Island is like the DR?