Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Costa Rican Spanish Word of the Day: Si Dios Quiere

Literally translated as "if God wants" (or the more idiomatically correct "God willing" in English), 'si Dios quiere' is an expression that has permeated Costa Rican language and culture.

This expression often throws foreigners through a loop, whether they're believers or not. Many ticos will start or end the future projection of just about anything with 'si Dios quiere' (or 'si Dios permite'). While most people wouldn't have a problem with this, some ticos go a step further to add it onto your sentence when you--wittingly or not--leave it out.

I recall a specific instance when I was telling my neighbor about my graduate school plans. He nodded his head in agreement and said "Sí, si Dios quiere". If it were simply an involuntary cultural reaction I wouldn't have thought much of it, but in this case he was clearly calling attention to my omission of God in the equation.

I am personally not critical of the expression. (Even if I were, my quibbling would be nothing short of futile.) However, others have argued that the pervasiveness of the expression is a sign of--if not an actual cause of--an overreliance on faith and hope instead of self-determination in tico culture. In order to capture this attitude, I wrote the following parody for an underground Peace Corps Costa Rica fake newspaper, "The Times of Tico", which I authored while in the country: "Son's Laziness Mistaken for the Will of God".

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