How would you describe your language to someone who doesn’t speak it?

Answer by Erika Batista:

Ironically, I think it's easier to describe a language when you don't actually speak it, because you can't make sense of the words so you can only appreciate its raw essence. I'll give it a try.

Spanish is my mother tongue. I come from the Dominican Republic, and like every other Hispanophone country, we have a very particular way of speaking, even though we don't really have a "singing" to our accent like most Latin American countries.

Whatever we say, it seems like we are in a hurry to say it. Words pour out of our mouths at unbelievable speeds, and sometimes a whole sentence becomes one word. In order to achieve this speed, we must cut the 's' and 'r' at the end of most words, and even contract other words making then significantly different than their original spelling. We have mostly open vowels, and very coarse sounds. Even in a formal setting, we find it very awkward to speak in a correct way.

We are very influenced by American culture, so we use a lot of English words with a completely different meaning. "Heavy" becomes "cool", "full" is said when agreeing with someone, "charlie" is someone/something lame, and so on. 

We speak very, very loud. I've had Dominican friends visit me where I live in Paris, and can't help feeling embarrassed because of all the nasty looks we get while they're "yelling" at a cafe. My brother speaks so loud it actually gives me headaches sometimes. Finally, I had a friend whose neighbors in Paris called the police on him because of the noise him and his Dominican friends where making while chatting in his flat.

Dominicans are very cheerful. We are storytellers, so our language uses a lot of humor. We usually make fun of our hardships in order to make them more bearable. So our language contains a lot of slang, and it's hard even for a native speaker to keep up with the new vocabulary coming out every month.

People who don't speak Spanish are usually at a loss trying to figure out what language it is that we're speaking. When I speak Spanish to someone who is not Dominican, I feel as if I were speaking a foreign language.

So, to sum it up, our way of speaking is very loud, chopped up and separate words are sometimes indistinguishable. Still, it's a very charming humorous language.

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