'Barrio' - a dominicanismo?

Status
Not open for further replies.

qgrande

Bronze
Jul 27, 2005
805
4
0
I did a search for 'barrio' in the Spanish101 section, and lots of references to 'barrio' as in 'barrio Spanish' vs. 'correct' Spanish, but what about the word barrio itself? Is the negative connotation a dominicanismo?
I knew that while in the DR 'barrio' and 'being from a barrio' has a negative connotation, in Spain 'barrio' has a more neutral meaning of 'neighbourhood' or urban district. I thought it was an Iberian vs. South American Spanish distinction.
But recently I spoke with some Mexican students and learned 'barrio' is a neutral word in Mexico too. And today I read Isabelle Allende (Chilean) writing about a childhood move to one of the wealthy upperclass 'barrios' of Santiago (de Chile), using that word.
So, I wondered, is the use of 'barrio' with its meaning as a poor working class neighbourhood and negative connotations - as it is used frequently here in the forums - specifically Dominican, or are there more countries where it has that meaning?
Just curious, and it's one of those words that can lead to faux pas in certain situations...
 

Chirimoya

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2002
17,850
975
113
In the DR it can also be used in a neutral sense. Poor neighbourhoods are known specifically as "barrios populares". You can use barrio to mean both things in several other countries, in my experience, and whether you mean a rough, poor neighbourhood or any type of residential area will often have to depend on context.

Different Latin American countries have different names for shanty towns. In Venezuela they are called 'ranchitos', although that may just mean the houses. In Peru they are euphemistically called 'pueblos j?venes'! Others adopt the universally understood Brazilian word 'favela'.
 

qgrande

Bronze
Jul 27, 2005
805
4
0
Thanks Chiri. So it is not a specific Dominicanism. Although I haven't heard Piantini or Naco referred to as 'mi barrio' often, I'm sure the neutral form does exist in the DR. What I mean, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that as far as I know in Spain only the neutral meaning exists, and apparently in Mexico too. Any ideas on in which countries, apart from the DR, it also has the 'rough poor neighbourhood' meaning?
 

Kyle

Silver
Jun 2, 2006
4,266
161
0
you always here the DR1's saying "a barrio girl". so in fact it does serve two meanings...
 

Victor Laszlo

Bronze
Aug 24, 2004
591
6
0
So, I wondered, is the use of 'barrio' with its meaning as a poor working class neighbourhood and negative connotations - as it is used frequently here in the forums - specifically Dominican, or are there more countries where it has that meaning?
The Dominicans and other Latinos I know use barrio simply to mean neighborhood. Pretty much all of the negative connotations I've encountered have come from non-Latinos.

Barrio has a history of usage among Anglos in the United States to mean Latino slum/ghetto neighborhoods in US cities. I think it's that negative usage that spills over onto this board.

Just out of curiousity, are you aware of any negative terms for Muslim communities say, in European cities?
 

Chirimoya

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2002
17,850
975
113
The Dominicans and other Latinos I know use barrio simply to mean neighborhood. Pretty much all of the negative connotations I've encountered have come from non-Latinos.

Barrio has a history of usage among Anglos in the United States to mean Latino slum/ghetto neighborhoods in US cities. I think it's that negative usage that spills over onto this board.
That just about sums it up. I think you are absolutely right.
 

PICHARDO

One Dominican at a time, please!
May 15, 2003
13,277
877
113
Santiago de Los 30 Caballeros
I did a search for 'barrio' in the Spanish101 section, and lots of references to 'barrio' as in 'barrio Spanish' vs. 'correct' Spanish, but what about the word barrio itself? Is the negative connotation a dominicanismo?
I knew that while in the DR 'barrio' and 'being from a barrio' has a negative connotation, in Spain 'barrio' has a more neutral meaning of 'neighbourhood' or urban district. I thought it was an Iberian vs. South American Spanish distinction.
But recently I spoke with some Mexican students and learned 'barrio' is a neutral word in Mexico too. And today I read Isabelle Allende (Chilean) writing about a childhood move to one of the wealthy upperclass 'barrios' of Santiago (de Chile), using that word.
So, I wondered, is the use of 'barrio' with its meaning as a poor working class neighbourhood and negative connotations - as it is used frequently here in the forums - specifically Dominican, or are there more countries where it has that meaning?
Just curious, and it's one of those words that can lead to faux pas in certain situations...

The term "Barrios" was used by the Spanish colonists here in the DR and stuck here since then.

It means to express a certain area as a whole district or neighborhood, plain and simple.

Villa Olga, a well to do area of well to do families is a "Barrio".
La Rinconada is a Barrio.
Los Cerros de Gurabo is a Barrio.

Now people tend to use "Sector" and "Residencial" to try and give luster to some of these over the other less well to do "Barrios" like Pekin and Pueblo Nuevo.

The Police use "Cuartel" as a definition of the area where they have a precinct of operations. So it was denoted in Cedulas before to have a "Cuartel/Barrio" denomination for some areas.

Barrio is just that, a residential area or cuartel!
 

qgrande

Bronze
Jul 27, 2005
805
4
0
The Dominicans and other Latinos I know use barrio simply to mean neighborhood. Pretty much all of the negative connotations I've encountered have come from non-Latinos.

Barrio has a history of usage among Anglos in the United States to mean Latino slum/ghetto neighborhoods in US cities. I think it's that negative usage that spills over onto this board.
Very insightful. So it is a 'gringoism'.
I would have thought it had spilled over onto for instance Dominican newspapers as well, when writing of, say, 'problemas de drogas en los barrios'. But I can see that could be my reading that meaning into it after internalising the US-meaning of barrio.

Just out of curiousity, are you aware of any negative terms for Muslim communities say, in European cities?
Not somethng similar to that use of 'barrio' in the US. Of course there is a 'debate' over the presence of muslims in most European countries, and rising Islamophobia. But I know about that topic for only a couple of countries and languages. And the European Muslim population is made up of many different nationalities; Pakistani and Bangladeshi in the UK, Arabs in France and Spain, Turkish in Germany, etc., so there's many languages involved. There are many derogatory words for those nationalities.
Maybe in France, verlan (the inverse- word slang) has made the word 'beur' (phonetical inverse of 'arabe') quite well-known, but I don't think it has a negative meaning, really.
 

Julio Tulio

New member
Mar 12, 2008
38
0
0
Nah to us it means $hithole,ghetto,etc....to the rest of the world it just means urban area.

Now "residencial" "ensanche" "urbanizacion" are more proper sounding to us.

Tell a dominican from the barrio he's from a barrio you'll most defintley get cursed out.

Dont ask me why...
 

bob saunders

Platinum
Jan 1, 2002
30,578
4,004
113
dr1.com
The first reference to Barrio that I heard was back in the late sixties watching TV and some missionary org like feed the children was talking about the slums around South American cities. It wasn't until I was an adult and had met many Latinos that I understood Barrio to mean neighbourhood. It all in how you say it whether its an insult.
 

jalencastro

Bronze
Dec 15, 2004
1,938
104
63
www.myspace.com
In most latin america the word literally means neighborhood. Now all the negative conotations that are tied to the word...well everyone adds their two cents to it. Whether it is slums, ghettos, you hear references to it in music popular culture, 'urban' cultura, and yes gringoisms [nice term there! LOL] and even referenced in movies [gangster or urban types]. I think the word has a more negative connotation than just literally being a neighborhood.....kind of like taking the neighbor part out and just saying HOOD, what comes to mind? - J
 

montro07

New member
Aug 30, 2007
7
0
0
barrio used to mean " just a neighborhood", but nowadays it means " ghetto, slum,favela". So I wouldn't recommend using it. A decent, clean neighborhood, is refered to as " residencial".
 

les1

Member
Feb 1, 2007
309
15
18
I rent a house in Barrio Buenos Aires, Rio San Juan. It is poor, the houses are close together, sometimes with a large family in a small shack living a hand to mouth existance, unmade roads, no street lights, noisy and dirty, but.....THE PEOPLE ARE WONDERFUL great spirit, generous and funny. I came back from England after a cylone had flooded the entire barrio. There was mud on the floor of my house and a tide mark 6 inches up the wall. One neighbour helped clean it and gave me a meal another washed my sheets and another made me fresh juice. So it really gets up my nose when people talk about Barrio Chicas in a negative way.
There are also well off barrios, eg barrio Hospital in Rio San juan. They are just neighbourhoods and many people are proud to live in them.
 

J D Sauser

Silver
Nov 20, 2004
2,932
361
83
www.hispanosuizainvest.com
From what I understand so far, HERE in the DR it would be classified like so (1 being the best, 5 the worst):
  1. Urbanisacion, usually a privately funded development.
  2. Residencial, a private development, usually of apartments.
  3. Ensanche, a town expansion for residential use only.
  4. Barrio, a low income residential situation, mostly by or for low income people. Sometimes created by a government, sometimes illegally settled on gov. land or even private land. Some may qualify a slums, others are by far not so bad.
  5. Battey, traditionally a settlement of "share croppers" working mostly the sugar cane fields likely to be of Haitian origins. We'd call it a slum.
My experience with the word barrio in other Spanish speaking Countries like Spain, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and even but to a lesser extent Brazil, is that it usually only means something to the likes of "neighborhood". Only that in Brazil the word bairo could identify a "legal" neighborhood which could however look very similar and usually stand next to a favela (illegal slum) and have similar living standard conditions as the favela. Some of these bairos can be compared to what Dominicans call a barrio.
In Ecuador bad neighborhoods and slums, especially the ones around Guayaquil are called guasmos.

... J-D.
 

Norma Rosa

Bronze
Feb 20, 2007
1,127
58
0
Hola a todos.

To add to what others have already stated, the word "barrio" means simply "neighborhood". To distinguish the quality of a barrio from another, some people might say: un barrio bueno,decente/un barrio malo; un barrio de alta calidad/ de baja calidad (besides other terms such as urbanizaci?n, ensanche, residencial, etc.)

Here is the definition given by RAE:
1. Cada una de las partes en que se dividen los pueblos grandes o sus distritos.
My translation: Each one of the parts in which big cities and districts are divided.

The word comes from the Arabic-Hispanic b?rrri (exterior). This comes from the Classic Arabic barri, salvaje (wild, uncivilized).

I wonder if the negative connotation sometimes given to the term is due to its Classic Arabic root. (Hummmm)

Norma
 
Status
Not open for further replies.