This is a shout-out to all my Dominican friends out there.
You know who you are.
In the years that I have come to know you I have gained nothing but the deepest respect for you. Your dedication to your work, your family and your friends is amazing. And the pride you have for your culture is inspiring.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let me make fun of you.
It all started with a Potluck dinner party at my house.
I had invited a bunch of people that I work with, including my Dominican friends, and I had asked them to bring dishes that represented their nationality. In the weeks leading up to the event, there were numerous energetic discussions about what to bring, some of which were conducted, at least partly, in Spanish.
While they were bickering back and forth, I would just sit on the sidelines and listen in mute uni-lingual confusion. I made some cursory attempts to translate a bit of what they were saying into English, but ran into two major problems:
- They talk way too fast. I am convinced that a Spanish-speaking person can actually convey an entire days-worth of information in about 60 seconds. I think the reason they roll their R’s is so that they can slow their tongue down to keep it from breaking the sound barrier and creating a sonic boom that tears their lips off. That’s just a theory.
- I don’t know any Spanish other than “Por favor”, “Gracias”, “Uno”, “Hola” and “Agua”. So I would really only know what they were saying if one of them said “Hello, one water please. Thank you.”
Anyway… these conversations inspired me to do some research into the particular dialect of the Spanish language spoken in the Dominican Republic. For this I, naturally, consulted the All-Knowing Google Oracle which provided me with several helpful sites on “Dominicanese”.
Each of these sites had an alphabetical list of words, and their English translations. I started at “A” on each site, and began reading my way through them, looking for anything that might be blog-worthy.
Almost immediately, I found something interesting (to me, at least). I found two references to “Bacan” (or “Bacano”) which was defined as “one cool dude”. Any language that has a word that looks like the word “Bacon” but means that you are cool, is an awesome language in my book.
I was only in the B’s and already things were looking up… but, then I found the word “Bomba”.
Someone will have to explain this one to me, because, according to this site, it means “Gas Station”. But, according to the same site, if you add exclamation points (i.e. ¡Bomba!), then it becomes “Wow!”. This can make for some interesting sentences…”¡Bomba! Están jugando ‘La Bamba’ en la bomba!” (Wow! They’re playing ‘La bamba’ at the gas station!)
I probably got distracted by something shiny at that point, because I didn’t make it past the B’s. And, all I really gained was:
My new business card title: “Mucho Grande Bacano Extraordinario!”
A fun new exclamation: “Gas station! That’s a large spleen!”
So, in the end I was still able to understand very little of what they were saying. Although, every once in a while, I was able to determine, via context, that a certain word or phrase was referring to a particular Dominican dish, and I have to admit… they didn’t sound very tasty. The Spanish names for these recipes sounded, to me, like either a sexually transmitted disease, or some of the less glamorous body parts on mammals, neither of which I was looking forward to eating…
Of course, in the end I had nothing to fear. What they brought was much more appetizing than it sounded and by the end of the party I had a belly-full of awesome food.
In closing, I would like to cover one last thing… If “Mano” means hand, and “Mano a mano” means “Hand to hand”, and “Mono” means monkey, then “Mano a mono” means “Hand to monkey”?
I have no real point here… I just find that funny.