‘Why is Caribbean Spanish so hard ?’ - video

Marianopolita

Former Spanish forum Mod 2010-2021
Dec 26, 2003
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Well, this is interesting. This You Tuber talks about many of the common questions that people have about Caribbean Spanish. He has a noted American English accent but he is Puerto Rican and has a lot Dominican cousins per the video. As well, he used to live in DR. His observations are right on and they are very good examples. Listen to what he says about inverted questions in Caribbean Spanish around 10:26 min.....very key examples.


If you have 13 minutes to spare listen to this video.





-MP.
 
Jan 3, 2003
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Caribbean Spanish is so hard because it is not proper Spanish grammatically and linguistically speaking. It is a chopped up bastardization of a European language transformed into the necessities of a region. It contains comical colloquialisms, euphemisms, metaphors and sayings such "debajo de cualquier yagua se esconde un alacran" to name one. Unless you were born into that particular culture, it takes time to catch onto when to say what and to whom.
 
Jan 3, 2003
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In reference to the DR, that particular brand of Spanish contains indigenous Taino words such as bohio, conuco and huracan unknown to Spaniards in Spain. It contains Africanisms in terms of mode, tone, expression and delivery and the chopping up of Spanish words such as Para alla transformed into Pa'ya to name one example. Dominican Spanish is entertaining as is Cuban and Puertorican Spanish but it is very bad Spanish and if you work in government or education, your low level background is immediately revealed by using that "language".
 

Chirimoya

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Huracán has been adopted into mainstream Spanish along with many other Taíno words. Cacao, canoa, tabaco, barbacoa, etc.

P'allá is not exclusive to Caribbean Spanish. You hear it in some parts of Spain and Latin America too.
 

Marianopolita

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@Onions/Carrots

You make many valid points about Caribbean Spanish and although it has a reputation for being difficult to understand just to add some balance though every country has its own way of speaking (cada país tiene su forma de hablar). The question is just how far does the vernacular of a particular country differ from what is considered the norm or standard Spanish. That is where Caribbean Spanish shows how different it is. I am referring to the syntax and grammar. Vocabulary that differs is tied to history and Latin American history definitely influenced the vocabulary of every country or region. This is not unique to the DR or Caribbean (people bring their language and culture with them wherever they go) but the deviation of the grammatical and spoken part of the language from the norm really stands out.

Education for those who have the opportunity allows for people to learn, speak and write proper Spanish while still being able to understand and communicate in the local dialect. This is what I don’t see enough of in the DR and the Caribbean Antilles. In certain scenarios, one needs to be able to change their way of speaking. Using your examples working in the government and especially education speaking the local dialect is out of place. I have seen it and I have also seen how people struggle to make the change. An example is when a teacher writes lo muchacho, abla, boy, benir which should be los muchachos, habla, voy, venir these are just simple examples. Imagine full sentences. If the foundation is bad from the start it carries on throughout the school years of a student and the end result is disastrous. Students want to have the opportunity to get a good job through education but learning to read, write and speak proper Spanish is paramount.

I also find it striking how foreigners in the DR try to learn to speak like the locals. Part of it is survival mode and I understand that but I always recommend if asked that one should learn proper Spanish. Be on par with the rest of the Spanish-speaking world by learning to speak standard Spanish as much as possible. If they travel to other Spanish-speaking countries and they need to be able to communicate saying cómo estás in a public or a professional setting sounds much better than saying cómo tu‘ta. Foreigners also have the opportunity to learn proper Spanish whereas in the Caribbean many don’t which is why the local dialect is so prevalent meaning in all scenarios the speech pattern remains the same.


-MP.
 
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Marianopolita

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This article is always a good read from the BBC. Although it focuses only on one aspect of Caribbean Spanish the content is very helpful in understanding Spanish spoken in the Caribbean Antilles.

 
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Marianopolita

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This is a good summary of the features of Caribbean Spanish. The interview at the end is typical Puerto Rican Spanish. They way Rene from Calle 13 speaks in my opinion and experience is typical of PR (the average PR speaker).

Click on the presentation in the top right hand corner.
 
Jan 3, 2003
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Huracán has been adopted into mainstream Spanish along with many other Taíno words. Cacao, canoa, tabaco, barbacoa, etc.

P'allá is not exclusive to Caribbean Spanish. You hear it in some parts of Spain and Latin America too.
I've traveled to Spain and they never heard those words.

What Spaniards do you know of are aware of those words?

Only if Spaniards have been exposed to Dominicans would they know those words. As for Palla, that's not even Spanish. It's a word that earns the user low marks amongst those that are educated. Dominican Spanish has become popular amongst non-Dominican Spanish speaking youth. I've heard Central Americans gravitate to it like WASP children gravitating to Black American inner city English.
 

Chirimoya

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I've traveled to Spain and they never heard those words.

What Spaniards do you know of are aware of those words?
Maybe you misunderstood me because the words I listed are very common across the Spanish-speaking world. Cacao, canoa, tabaco and barbacoa are all in the RAE and are universally used and understood.

This article lists those and several others, some not so common, others just as common.

 

Marianopolita

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I've traveled to Spain and they never heard those words.

What Spaniards do you know of are aware of those words?

Only if Spaniards have been exposed to Dominicans would they know those words. As for Palla, that's not even Spanish. It's a word that earns the user low marks amongst those that are educated. Dominican Spanish has become popular amongst non-Dominican Spanish speaking youth. I've heard Central Americans gravitate to it like WASP children gravitating to Black American inner city English.

Spanish spoken in Spain and the Dominican version do not compare although many like to hang on to the idea that it does because the origin of DR Spanish is Andalucía. However, that is a long time ago and it has definitely evolved into its own local version due influences such as Taíno and especially because of the African influence. It is impossible to overlook.

Pa ‘lla is just para allá. It is totally colloquial speech and heard in the Caribbean beyond the Antilles. It is not a word but simply the way para allá is said in colloquial vernacular. I am sure you know this. Now if someone tries to say it is an actual word then that is just crazy.
 
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Maybe you misunderstood me because the words I listed are very common across the Spanish-speaking world. Cacao, canoa, tabaco and barbacoa are all in the RAE and are universally used and understood.

This article lists those and several others, some not so common, others just as common.

It might be in the RAE as a matter of academic intellectual discipline but I never heard a Spaniard in Spain using those words. If I did I'd start laughing at him or her immediately and ask where did they learn those words.

How about conuco and huracan? Are they in the RAE?

Spaniards view themselves as Europeans. They view our use of the language as whimsical. It brings humor to their ears our accents. Many distance themselves from us and will state we share a common language but much more than that it is difficult to establish.
 

Marianopolita

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Please explain? The origin of DR Spanish is Andalucia?
There is a lot linguistic material on this. Historians, philologists and linguists have done the research. I read Cómo hablamos los dominicanos many years ago when the book was presented in this forum. I highly recommend it if you are interested in language, linguistics, sociolinguistics, Dominican Spanish and understanding the origin of DR Spanish which is Andalucía.

Here is the book:

A8935A37-3950-4554-B102-981266811C70.jpeg



Also here is a brief link which is a book in PPT. Read the first slide.





-MP.
 
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Chirimoya

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It might be in the RAE as a matter of academic intellectual discipline but I never heard a Spaniard in Spain using those words. If I did I'd start laughing at him or her immediately and ask where did they learn those words.

How about conuco and huracan? Are they in the RAE?

Spaniards view themselves as Europeans. They view our use of the language as whimsical. It brings humor to their ears our accents. Many distance themselves from us and will state we share a common language but much more than that it is difficult to establish.
Conuco is in the RAE but it's acknowledged to be a word found mainly in Dominican, Cuban and Venezuelan Spanish. I'd never heard it before I arrived in the DR. No one is saying that all Taino words that survive in the region have also made it into mainstream Spanish but the ones I listed most certainly did.

Huracán is not only in the RAE but also in common usage, as are the other words on my list. It's frankly quite comical to insist that people in Spain never use the words tabaco, cacao or barbacoa!
 

Marianopolita

Former Spanish forum Mod 2010-2021
Dec 26, 2003
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It might be in the RAE as a matter of academic intellectual discipline but I never heard a Spaniard in Spain using those words. If I did I'd start laughing at him or her immediately and ask where did they learn those words.

How about conuco and huracan? Are they in the RAE?

Spaniards view themselves as Europeans. They view our use of the language as whimsical. It brings humor to their ears our accents. Many distance themselves from us and will state we share a common language but much more than that it is difficult to establish.

Here is a brief article from a Spanish magazine that is about Americanisms (indigenismos) in Spanish that come from Latin America and are used in the spoken language today. The author is not negative or unaware that these words exist in Spanish. Just because Spaniards from Spain that you encountered are unaware of these words does not mean they don’t exist or have less valuable. We are not talking about callejero Spanish here. This is an aspect about colonization whether people like it or not. It is called aportación. Los españoles llegaron a América Latina y toda esa gente que ya estaban viviendo allí durante mucho tiempo tenían sus palabras. Por lo tanto, no entiendo por qué dices que esas palabras no existen. Han sido aceptadas por la RAE y existen como indigenismos en español.



-MP.
 

Marianopolita

Former Spanish forum Mod 2010-2021
Dec 26, 2003
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Here is a list of americanismos or indigenismos from Latin America. Some are known in Spain and other are not. These words were used by native people of Latin America when the colonizers came to Latin America. Having been officially accepted into the Spanish language as borrowed or foreign words, there should be no lack of understanding that these words exist and clearly they are borrowed words in the language.




-MP.
 
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