When asked, “Do you speak Dominican?” I used to get annoyed and jump at the opportunity to educate. “No, Dominican isn’t a language. But I speak Spanish, just like you!” I would then get asked if I also spoke American. That used to bother me, but now it doesn’t. Now, I just accept it. Yes, I speak Dominican. And here are some of my favorite Dominican words for you all!
Vaina, noun: Anything. Really, it can be used for anything. An object, a situation, a behavior, an idea, you name it. Usually every party involved knows what vaina is referring to, but not always. Kids like to use it (or cosa) to refer to anything they can’t remember the word for.
Sample sentences: “Pero, deja esa vaina!” = “Come on, cut it out!” “Me encanta esta vaina!” = “I love this!” “Trajiste la vaina?” = “Did you bring the thing?”
Tiguere, noun/adjective: I’m not sure what word in English best encapsulates what a tiguere is. It’s some combination of gangsta, hoodlum, ne’er-do-well, delinquent, thief, and metrosexual. They generally wear weird hairstyles, rhinestone shirts with dragons on them, tight jeans with superfluous zippers and pockets, and bling. In some sites people can joke about tigueres and their fashion and overly-machismo behavior (hissing at women and throwing really creative cat-calls at them). Oh, to have that luxury. In my site, the word tiguere refers to people who hang out at colmados, drink all the time, and will actually mug/stab/shoot you. However, the word is also used to describe someone who is surprisingly good at something.
Sample sentences: “Mira, no andes por el pley de noche por que los tigueres te atracan.” = “Look, don’t go near the baseball field at night because the delinquents will mug you.” “Ai, Brandon es un tiguere de domino!” = “Brendan is surprisingly good at dominoes!”
Que lo que?: Used as a greeting, especially among young people. The best English equivalent I can think up is “What it is?” It’s an all-purpose greeting; it announces your presence, greets people, asks how someone is doing, and asks for any news, all at once. People also use it as a question word in a sentence, instead of just a simple “what.”
Sample sentences: “Que lo que hay?” = “What’s happening?” “Pero que lo que estás hacienda allí?” = “What are you doing over there?”
Hombe,interjection: Used do express despair, exasperation, disbelief, anger, and pretty much any other emotion.
Sample sentences: “Pero ven acá, hombe!” = “Oh, come on!” “Mi mai, dámelo, hombe!” = “Mom, give it to me!” “Ai hombe, que lío.” = “Oh man, what a mess.”
Jevi, adjective: Awesome. That’s exactly what it means. If something is really cool or someone is doing really well, use jevi.
Sample sentences: “Conseguí boleto al concierto de Prince Royce! Bien jevi!” = “I got a ticket to the Prince Royce concert! Awesome!”
Flow/pinta, noun: How someone is dressed; their personal style. Usually used when you’re getting dressed up to go out, or you have new clothes or a new haircut. Lots of barbershops have the word flow in their names.
Sample sentences: “Mira mi pinta!” = “Check out my style!” “Con este recorte ahora tengo más flow.” = “With this new haircut, now I have more style.”
Disparate, noun/adjective: Something worthless, trash, garbage, or false. In English, “bullshit.” And you always have to put a HUGE emphasis on the second to last syllable. If you spit a little bit, you’re doing it right.
Sample sentences: “Ese tiguere está hablando disparate!” = “This tiguere is talking bullshit!”
Hablador(a), noun: Liar. Usually in Spanish you don’t pronounce the H, but here you do, and draw it out, along with the A, to make a throaty spitting sound. It’s pretty strong—I have a friend who called his project partner a habladora and she laughed and told him not to call people that.
Sample sentences: “Tú sabe manejar motor? Hablador!” = “You know how to drive a motorcycle? LIAR!”
Aplatanado/a, adjective: Dominicanized. Here you drop the D so it becomes “aplatanao.” It literally translates into “plantained.” Like the fruit. When you have become a plantain, you have become Dominican.
This is just a sampling, but I hope you enjoyed it. You too can talk like a tiguere!