Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Taino Speak

The other day some friends and I were sitting around talking about how language changes and evolves, not only over time, but over different countries. Eventually we got to discussing the Cuban version of Spanish. They were saying that they didn’t understand some of the words I used and they didn’t know how these words came about…. The answer is simple. These words are not Spanish at all, but Taino. It’s fascinating just how much the Taino influenced Cuba linguistically. Just for fun I’m going to compile a small dictionary of Taino words that are commonly sprinkled with Cuban Spanish (especially by my Dad):

Taino- Spanish- English

jicotea – tortuga- turtle

sanaco- idiota-idiot

caguama- tortuga marina- sea turtle

jutia - no translation- Caribbean rodent

maja- serpiente- snake

jimagua-jemelos- twins

mata- planta/arbol- plant/tree

guagua- bus-bus

guanajo- pavo- turkey

tiburon- no translation- shark

guajiro- campesino- farmer

jibaro- man of the forest

And of course, my personal favorite,

cocuyo- lucilirnaga- lightning bug

I’m not even including the Taino words that have been incorporated into the English language such as tabaco (tobacco) , iguana, manati (manatee), jurakan (hurricane). jamaca (hammock), canoa (canoe), barbacoa (barbecue) , maraca (rattle) sabana (savanna).

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