Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Word of the Day: Dialecto

Dialecto is 'dialect' in Spanish, but in the rural areas of Costa Rica you might hear people referring to dialect as a language completely different from Spanish. In my area of Guatuso, people would often explain to me that the indigenous Maleku Indians spoke a "dialect". The textbook understanding of the word would make it seem as if Maleku were a dialect of Spanish. What they mean to say is that it isn't Spanish at all. (A more pessimistic view may have the locals interpreting the Maleku language as somehow undeserving of the language status, which could be accurate for some.) It threw me off a bit the first time I heard someone say it, but I learn to tune it out when people continued to say use dialecto in this way.

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