Dominican Republic – Spanish Language and Culture
Population: 10 million (2008)
Capital: Santo Domingo
Area: 48,072 km² (18,696 sq miles)
Currency: Peso (DOP)
National Holiday: 27th of February
Calling Code: + 1809
Time Zone: GMT – 4
GDP: Total – US$ 50.055 billion (2010)
Per Capita – US$ 5,464
The Spanish Language in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Spanish is a form of Caribbean Spanish that has been influenced both by native languages as well as by languages brought by Africans during the slave trade. Dominicans are renowned for the fast speed at which they speak and for the shortening of words. Dominican Spanish has very distinct vocabulary including many ancient Spanish words. There is also an abundance of Anglicisms due to American occupation and the proximity to the U.S. Another unique characteristic is the use of tú before the verb in the question form: “¿Cómo tú estás?”
Special words and expressions
An interesting characteristic of Dominican Spanish is the use of old Spanish, left over from the conquest and no longer used in modern Spanish elsewhere. Eg. Dinero – cuartos (old spanish) or cuarto – aposento. Other Dominican words include:
- tato - good
- mato - tree
- conuco (indigenous origin) – farm
Articles about Dominican Republic
- La reina de las pellizas.
- Beli una vida hecha música.
- República Dominicana, más allá del all inclusive.
- Zancos, más que entretenimiento, una opción laboral.
- Guardar celulares, una ingeniosa forma de ganarse la vida.
- Brujería otra forma de creer.
Other languages spoken
- Haitian Creole – a Creole language spoken by close to 160,000 of the 1,000,000 Haitian immigrants living in the frontier area of the Dominican Republic as a result of Haitian Diaspora. The language has influences from French, Spanish and West African Languages.
- Southwestern Caribbean Creole English / Jamaican Patois – (not to be confused with Jamaican English) is a language that has its base in 17th century English and in African languages and is spoken by 22,000 people in the Dominican Republic
- Samaná English – another English based Creole spoken by 8,000 people in the Samaná Peninsula in the northeast of the country
- Chinese – spoken by 25,000 Chinese refugees of the Chinese Revolution.
- Japanese – there is a small Japanese settlement in the country
- Arabic – there is a sizable Arab community with 3,000 speakers
Spanish dialects and variations
- Dominican Spanish could potentially be considered a Creole Language due to the importance of African Languages in its vocabulary, intonations and colloquialisms.
- There is an important difference between Spanish spoken in different social classes. Each class group has distinct characteristics.
- In the north, the final ‘l’ and ’r’ are dropped and replaced with an ‘i’. (caminar – caminai) whereas in the capital it is replaced with an ‘l’ (caminar – caminal)
Geography and Climate
The Dominican Republic makes up two-thirds of the eastern side of the Hispaniola Island in the Antilles and includes a few smaller islands. The terrain is mountainous with fertile valleys and hot arid regions as well. The coast is tropical and alternates between agricultural plains and low hills.
History & Politics
The Island of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located, was the first island to be inhabited by the Spanish. Santo Domingo is the oldest European city in the New World. It was under French rule (north: Haiti and south: Santo Domingo) until the beginning of the 19th century. In 1844 Santo Domingo overthrew the Haitian President and became the Dominican Republic. A second Dominican Republic had to be proclaimed after it was returned to Spanish rule. In 1930, General Rafael Trujillo established an oppressive dictatorship employing a “cult of personality” and ruled the country (under various official titles) for 31 years until he was eventually assassinated in 1961. The ensuing struggle for power saw the entrance of U.S. troops once again to help ensure that communists did not gain power. Severe floods and hurricanes have devastated the island on several occasions, setting back the economy. In 2005 free-trade was settled with the United States.
¿Sabías qué….? Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic is the lowest point in the Caribbean, it reaches 40 meters below sea-level.
Freedom of the press is a right in the Dominican Republic and there are many sources representing different points of view. Certain controversial subjects tend to be avoided however, and in the past years laws against defamation have become harsher. Many newspapers are owned by large finance conglomerates.