Dominican Spanish

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Dominican Spanish
Dominican Spanish
Native to  Dominican Republic
 Puerto Rico
 United States
 Netherlands Antilles
 U.S. Virgin Islands
 Cayman Islands
Native speakers 13.5 million  (2006[1])
Language family
Spanish Creole
  • Antillean Creole
    • Dominican Spanish
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Dominican Spanish is Spanish as it is spoken in the Dominican Republic and by the Dominican diaspora.[2]

Roots of the language[change | change source]

Dominican Spanish is based on Canarian and Andalucian dialects from south Spain but with strong influences from West African languages in the phonetics, grammar, syntax, and many words. The indigenous Arawak language left very little influence on the language; the only influence they left were some words, mainly for foods and names.

African influence[change | change source]

The African influence in Dominican Spanish can be heard in its sounds, syntax, grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and the hundreds if not thousands of words used in every day locally. Examples of African-based syntax:

  • Dominican Spanish Creole: "Como tu ta?", Spanish: "¿Cómo estás tú?"
  • Dominican Spanish Creole: "Como tu te llama?", Spanish: "¿Cuál es su nombre?" or "¿Cómo se llama usted?"
  • Dominican Spanish Creole: "P'onde ta?" or "Onde ta", Spanish: "¿Por dónde está eso?" or "¿Por dónde estás?"

Words such as "Mangu" (Mashed plantains), "Kamboumbo" (basket for clothes), "Guineo" or "Guinea" (Banana), and many more.[1] Note, most of these African words are either Igbo or Kikongo origins. The most dominant African languages that has had the most influence in the formation of Dominican Creole is the Igbo, Yoruba, Kongo, Twi, Fon, Ewe, Mandinga, Hausa, Wolof etc. With the Syntax being based off the Yoruba language and Mande languages, the phonetics heavily influenced by the Kikongo, and the pronouciations of certain words containing some elements of the Mandingas and the Igbos. Most schollars, just as all of the West Indies have said that the Kikongo language influenced greatly the formation of Dominican Creole.[3]

Vocabulary[change | change source]

These are some examples of Dominican Spanish Creole. <<Note>> some of these words or expressions/idioms are of African origin.

  • Chalina: corbata; Tie
  • Terina: vasija para lavarse las manos; handwashing vessel
  • Boto: sin filo; blunt
  • Mayimbe: el rey; king
  • Mata: yerba, árbol, planta de cualquier tipo; grass, tree, plant of any kind
  • Pela: golpes, paliza; hitting, beating
  • Mai: madre; mother
  • Pai: Padre; Father
  • Soga: Cualquier tipo de cuerda; Any type of rope
  • Abarrotar: llenar, atestar; fill, cram
  • Bandazo: tumbo; lie
  • Chuma: Populazo, gentuza; Populazo, riffraff
  • Desamarrar: desatar; loosen
  • Embicar: beber a pico de botella; drinking from the bottle
  • Garete: (al garete) sin control, sin orden; (to hell) without control, without a warrant
  • Singar: realizar el acto sexual; having sexual intercourse
  • Chin/Chin chin: un poquito, un poco; a little bit, a little, not much
  • Zafar: soltar; release or give up
  • Bembe: labios; lips
  • Cateyano: Castellano, Espanol; Castilian, Spanish
  • Kalunga: Dios; God
  • Matatan: el macho, el veradero hombre; the man
  • Kikonde: Esconde, to hide


Related languages[change | change source]

Palenquero is a Spanish-African based Creole with Portuguese influences that is spoken in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, it is very similar to Dominican Creole.

Cuban Creole Oriental or the Eastern Cuban Spanish dialect is remarkably identical to Dominican Creole. Many Cubans consider the east part of Cuba as another Dominican Republic due to similar culture.

References[change | change source]