Dominican Spanish, the way the Dominicans talk (Como Hablamos Dominicanos)sometimes known asDominicanismos or Dominicanese.Some words are the same as Spain Spanish but many are very different. Even the way words are pronounced are different. For example, most Dominicans do not use the "S" at the end of a word. It is important to know many of these words. When you are walking in the street and someone calls out to you it is a good thing to know if you should acknowledge or ignore the comments. When dining knowing what your ordering could make a real difference for the stomach! Use these just as a guideline, words change as well as peoples interpretation of them. Also, as in all countries, each region and sometimes town, has its own words, expressions, and accents. Imagine trying to explain some words you may use in your own language...not as easy as it seems.
Spanish is the official language of the country and street signs and restaurant menus are written in Spanish for the most part. Even though the people linked to the tourist trade generally speak English, knowing some Spanish defiantly would be helpful. Even if you get laughed at, people will know you are trying. A good laugh is good for the health, even if it is at your own expense. Enjoy and take it easy, life is too short.
Another very important thing that you will probably notice when you hear you first group of Dominican people hanging out talking. Dominicans speak very loud and fast. They wave their arms around a lot and use many strong hand and facial gestures. When I first saw this I thought people were getting ready to fight, it made me nervous, not understanding the words they were saying and seeing what seemed to me to be aggressive gesturing. But, as I later learned, it wasn't that way at all. This normal Dominican-talk is not aggressive, rude or annoying to others. It is the way they do it, their cultural custom. In fact, Dominican people are just the opposite of the way they come across, they are very polite humans. They always great others with a "buenas días" or "¿Como esta?".
One very noticeable difference in the language is the way certain consonants and vowels change. In the capital area of Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, the Rsound is changes to an L sound. For example the word ¿por que? changes in sound to ¿pol que?. In the north part of the country they make the R sound like an I which makes ¿por que? sound like ¿poi que?. The southern region makes the R sound like an L making the word Miguel sound like Miguer. Also they do not add the letter S to the ending of words. In fact, they cut off many of the last letters in a word.
Spelling is not that good, in general, by the average Dominican. Since the words are, for the most part, written as they sound studying spelling in not a real priority in Dominican schools as it is in many other cultures. This means that the average Dominican has no idea (and for the most part doesn't really care) if a word is spelled with a V or a B; an H or a J; a soft C or an S or a Z (any letters that are interchangeable in pronunciation). So if you are writing something of importance make sure you look up the word if you have any doubts as to the spelling.
Slang is very common, like everywhere in the world. Learning the slang of a country or region can be a never ending task as things change from day to day. Example is years ago in USA the word bad meant good, and now when something is sweet they do not mean that it is filled with sugar. This is the same in Dominican Republic. It can be seen everywhere. On political posters, signs, and names of businesses. Trying to learn some of the slang can make conversing a bit more fun and make you understand and fit in a little better. In time, and with a little effort, you may be able to understand and laugh at a joke just as you do in your own native language.
Try listening to people talking in the streets with friends or enter a chat room with Dominicans and see if you can pick up some of these common phrases. Esta Bien would be the school book way to say something is good, OK or cool. Here people might say “Ta nitido” “Ta jevi” “Ta vacano” If you agree on something and want to say this in Dominican slang you could say “ta to” or “fuego”. If you want to just say hello or what's up you would say "¿Que lo que?" or ¿Como tu 'ta?" There are so many more sayings. I have tried to list many in the dictionary pages here.
Dominicans use many double entendres in their language. This along with their play on words and metaphors make the language quite flowery and fun. Also try and remember that for many Dominican words, including Spanish words in general, there are no direct translations. It is important if you want to fit in to try and use a few of these words. It is also fun and if you do make a mistake don't worry, most Dominicans will understand and try to help. They will appreciate your efforts.
Relax and enjoy this wonderful island and its beautiful and colorful people. Life is good!!
A - a
Arretao´- a very bold person, stupidly brave
Asorao - surprisedA caco - to shave a head bald, especially when trying to hide their hair loss
A nivel - used to describe when something is pleasurable, almost like "really cool"
A po' ta' bien - "Ah, it's OK"
Abombao - when someone had lots to eat.
Abombarse - rotten or spoiled food, fruit and water
Abur-Abur - equal to bye-bye
Ace - powdered soap, laundry soap
Acechar - to watch or control
Acetona - Nail polish remover
Agallú (or Agayú) - greedy, when one has more than enough and does not share. Selfish.
Aguajero - BS'er, full of it, speaks a lot and does nothing, brags and boasts all the time.
Agolpear - (Golpear) to strike, hit
Ahora - now
Ahorita - Soon,later, maybe never in "Dominican time"
Anchoas, anchoitas - pin curls (thanks Nicole)
Anjá - sort of like saying "What!" "Wow!"
Ajebrarse - to physically fight with another person
Ajumao - drunk
Al trisito - when something is about to happen or almost happened. "We al tristo wrecked"
Alante - (similar to adelante) to move ahead, go forward, to call the next person in a line
Alelao - a man who is a little slow or stupid
Allantoso - Bragger, phony
AMET - (El AMET) the traffic police
Amorcita (o) - my little love (feminine or masculine) used as a term of endearment not necessarily love
Añuga - to choke
A su orden -"Your welcome" or "It's nothing"
Apechurrao, Apiñao, Apeñucao - to be very tight, to be packed in like sardines
Aplatanado - another name for Dominicans. Many do not like being called this.
Aplicar - apply for a job
Apota - intentionally, deliberately
Arma una piña - to look for a fight
Arrecho - for a man to be excited sexually, erect
averiguao - (from the spanish word averiguador) a person who is very nosey (thanks Nicole)
Avion - (literally means airplane) a woman that does sexual favors for free; an easy woman
B - be
Baboso - idiot, to speak lies
Bacano - one cool dude
Bago - person that does not like to work
Baisma - The Basement
Bajo - bad smell
Bakebo - Basketball
Banca - place to place a bet, gamble (baseball, lottery)
Barajo - "eso se barajo" literally it was shuffled. Used when a plan was changed or did not happen.