Monday, November 24, 2008

Word of the Day: Malanga

Malanga is a gray, starchy tuber that takes on a soft, gooey texture when cooked. It is very similar to tiquisque (pronounced [tiquisqui]), which fits the same description and is much more common in Costa Rica than the malanga. Both vegetables taste great and are a good change-up to the more conventional potato.

Perhaps more common than all the aforementioned tubers--especially in the rural areas where it's grown--is yuca, which is gooey like the malanga and tiquisque, but much more fibrous.


Ramses said...

Is it often in Costa Rican Spanish that words are pronounced different than how they're written? Or is it because "tiquisque" comes from another language?

Thomas Carmona said...

Very good question! When this comes up in my posts I usually take that extra step to explain the following:

In speech, Costa Ricans tend to "weaken" the letter 'e' and make it an 'i' when the 'e' is at the end of a word or preceding an 'a'.

In the first case, as in tiquisque, the only thing that changes is the sound of the last syllable.

However, in the latter case, such as in 'chapear' (to cut weeds, grass), the end result not only affects the sound of the 'e', but also changes the number of syllables in the word. While two strong vowels, 'e' and 'a', warrant their own separate syllables, the 'i' and the 'a'--which effectively form the end of the word as you would hear it [chapiar]--form a diphthong (only one syllable).

So, no, it's not because it's a non-Latin word. These tendencies by no means dominate the speech of all ticos, but you will find many people speak this way, especially as you venture out into the countryside.