Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gilipolladas* of Etiquette / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Gilipolladas* of Etiquette / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado
Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado, Translator: Adrian Rodriguez

The realities imposed on us during the time of the "Special Period"*[2]
and the foreign investments, brought with them new forms of expression
that involved part of the Cuban society. Those nationals linked to the
tourism, to the diplomatic community and those working with foreigners
and their currency or the exchange market, integrated into their
language words such as "sir, madam, or miss" to address someone — As if
the "comrades"*[3] of so many years, men or women, had emigrated — and
other Anglicisms such as "llámame para atrás" (call me back) or verbal
crutches such as "tú sabes" (you know); and the spanish ones, "¿vale?"
to agree or assent to something, the "gilipollas" (idiot) in
substitution of the ultra-Cuban "comemierda"*[4] (shiteater). I didn't
find an etymological dictionary to check whether or not the origin of
this word is Cuban, but it is an image that reflects how much identified
we are in our slang with such vulgarism. Also, due to the presence of
Spanish businessmen and tourists in recent years, and our interaction
with them, we acquired additional words of erotic content, that I prefer
to avoid here.

The foreigners, who travel to Cuba as tourists, are seeking for
"chicas"*[5] and "chicos" *[5]; not muchachas*[5] or muchachos*[5],
young people, women and men to get involved with. People around the
world have their own jargons and language traits and their customs which
define them as a nation, even if we share the same language. The
inclusion of foreign expressions and practices in a sector of our
society is not a local phenomenon that has political overtones, as two
friends argued recently, they are due to globalization, which is
connecting us worldwide in various spheres of life; the internet, which
allows us to interact in real time with many places of the world and to
the opening to foreign tourism in our country after nearly three decades
of staying stuck in snow crystals incubators "for better handling," as
the wolf of Little Red Riding Hood would say.

Therefore, it doesn't worry me too much that our language is nuanced
with foreign words. I can listen a youth calling another "brother",
assenting with a "that's ok", or leaving with a "see you…", that does
not wake me up from my dreams; what really concerns me is the frantic
emigration with which we Cubans have been naturalized as world citizens.
That's more important and significant that the locutions of our
vernacular spanish. Let's leave those misgivings to more conservative

I disapprove of false behavior, such as those who, in their environment,
uncork their repressions and unleash their own churlishness in their
element and in others, laminate in plastic their attitudes and with this
label places, as if they ignore that we should behave in an educated
way, regardless of where we are.

That's how we, a large portion of the Cubans living in our country, are
going these days: the Penelopes weave their dreams — with imported yarn
— while waiting for the democracy ship; the believers in religions of
African origin don't offer drums to their African pantheon
'orishas'*[6], now they revere them using violins*[7] more often than
before; and the majority still waits in frustration because "a malicious
man" seized our rights and our freedom. With the permanent production
chain of poverty that most Cubans inherited, they leave us also with the
sad reality of the everyday ordinary fellow citizen who, to offset the
economic hardships, is adorning his language with foreign gems to
experience at least how the vocabulary is "being enriched."

*Translator's notes:
(1)- Gilipolladas is a Spain's bad word meaning foolishness , idiocies,
therefore a gilipollas is an idiot , a fool and can be use as an asshole
(2)-The special period was the name given by the Cuban government to the
economic situation after the fall of the USSR and the eastern Europe
socialist governments.
(3)- Comrade was the usual way to address another person in Cuba since 1959.
(4)- Comemierda is a Cuba's bad word for fool, idiot, asshole, etc..
although literally means shit eater.
(5)- chicos, chicas, muchachos and muchachas all have the same meaning:
young men and women, but in Cuba muchachas and muchachos are used.
(6) An Orisha is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the
manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious
(7) violins are played to revere Oshun, who has been syncretized with
Our Lady of Charity , Cuba's patroness.

Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

July 20 2011


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