Monday, October 12, 2009

Oscar Wao: Capítulo Cinco

Anacaona - the Golden Flower, a Taino queen, the book explains her story more, she’s compared to Mexico’s La Malinche, Cortes’ interpreter and lover and is generally considered a traitor while Anacaona is considered a heroine

bakiní – I can’t find a definition that doesn’t make this some take on bikini

bellaco – a horn-dog, Trujillo was horny

chiste apocalyptus – fatal joke

chivato – informer, snitch

corona – crown, or a torture device that goes around your head

culocracy – a government founded on the pursuit of culo, booty

Fernando Ortiz – a Cuban scholar who documented the African influence on Cuban culture, of special interest to me for his work on Santería

fulano – so-and-so, this word is used in Portuguese too

guanábana – soursop, graviola in Portuguese

jiringonza - some think this word is mispelled and should be jeringonza, a child’s word game, but in context in the book, that doesn’t really make sense, it seems like it’s a mess, it’s a the air

lambesacos – suck-ups, too eager to please

Lílis(más fuerte que Lílis) – (stonger than Lílis) nickname for Ulises Heureaux, president of the DR in the 1880’s

mamajuana – an alcohlic drink involving tree bark and herbs, believed to increase sex drive

Nigüa(es mejor tener cien niguas en un pie que un pie en Nigüa) – flea, but also a prison during the Trujillato, (it’s better to have 100 fleas on your foot than one foot in Nigüa)

rayano - the child of a Dominican and a Haitian

restavek - a Haitian word from the French “reste avec” to stay with someone, a child sent to work in another family, which usually turns into a servant-slave situation, similar to criada

todólogos – philosophers, the kind you would find in tertulias

toyo - mess

pana - friend

perejil-ing – makes of Spanglish verb out of the Spanish word for parsley, a reference to the Trujillato’s use of the word to listen to the accents of people they suspected of being Haitian

pulpo – octopus, or octopus-shaped torture device

sertão – the region of Northeastern Brazil with cyclical droughts, gets so dry the earth cracks to pieces

shangoblack – Shangó is the powerful orishá of lightening, perhaps because the orishás are usually depicted as black it was used fo emphasis

zapoteblack – zapote is related to the persimmon fruit, sometimes called the black persimmon it is a Nahuatl word

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