In the two months I’ve been in the Dominican Republic, I’ve heard a surprising amount of English. Not just from the American tourists who pop down for a quick tan, but from the people who live here year round. Haitian students, who are required to learn English in their schools, are always eager to practice their English with Americans. What strikes me most, though, are the words that Dominicans don’t bother to translate, or the ones that take on a different meaning when used in “Dominican”. A few of my favorites:
Chicken nugget: since there’s no direct translation for this delightful snack, Dominicans just say chicken nuggets. However, it comes out sounding more like “cheeckehn-noggit”.
Lighter: the Spanish word for lighter is encendedor, but people in their teens and twenties find it easier to just say lighter.
Baby: “Baby” seems to be the first English word Dominican men learn. As in, when a woman is walking down the street, she hears from some random man, “I love you, baby.” Baby is spelled “beivi”.
Flow: “Flow” describes what we might call swagger. This one I think we can chalk up to the strong presence of hip-hop culture in the Dominican Republic. I hear my share of throwback Snoop Dogg songs in clubs.
Heavy: One of my favorites. Outdated in the States but perfectly current here, “heavy”, spelled jevi, describes something cool. When I asked my host sister if she liked a particular club, she replied in all seriousness, “Sí, es muy jevi.” It’s hard not to smile when I hear it because if I used “heavy” at home to say something was cool, no one would take me seriously.
More Dominicanisms on the way.