Monday, August 03, 2015

Enigmas of Cuban Spanish

Anthony T. Rivas starts his entertaining "Enigmas of Cuban Spanish" by noting that "Non-Cuban Spanish speakers have occasional trouble understanding fast Cuban speech. While less educated Cuban speakers can be difficult to understand, as with speakers of other dialects of Spanish, better educated speakers of Cuban Spanish can also exhibit speech sounds typical of "careless" or relaxed speech." 

Ahhh... my own experience, especially around the DMV (where most "native" Spanish speakers are from Central America, and in my neighborhood from Argentina), is more like a perplexed look... this chart (from his research) exemplifies the nuances, even within Cuba, of Cuban Spanish.

Old Oriente ProvinceRest of CubaEnglish Meaning
cutara chancletas slippers
papaya fruta bomba papaya
balance* sillón rocking chair
balde cubo bucket
rallado, rasco-rasco (Matanzas) granizado (Bayamo and Santiago)ice cone
macholechónsuckling pig
pluma, llave** faucet tap
túnico* vestido dress
hallaca tamal tamale
guineo plátano (fruta) banana
fana fanoso good-for-nothing/cheapskate
tienda *** bodega grocery store
* Also used in Camagüey Province
** "Pluma" and "llave" coexist in Camagüey Province.
*** In Havana, "tienda" with no modifier denotes a clothing store.