SPANISH TERMS IN *IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES*

TRANSLATIONS

(excluding ones that are immediately translated within the book, are cognate words that probably don’t need translation (like “tigre” and “tiger”), or are really common Spanish words) 

IMPORTANT NAMES

Maté is Maria Teresa
El Jefe is a term for Trujillo (as “el jefe” as a noun means “The chief” or “the boss”)
San Francisco (etc) – Names of towns/cities that start with San are not the American equivalents – these refer to Dominican towns or cities

CHAPTER ONE

Gringa Dominicana: A Dominican white person (a gringo/gringa is term for a white person, usually from the U.S. – this word is sometimes, but not always used as an insult)
Maria Santisima – The Virgin Mary
Exactamente – Exactly
Galeria – The veranda
Pobrecito/a – Poor little thing – a term that implies sympathy (the –o or –a ending is based on gender … boys and men would be pobrecitos, girls/women, pobrecitas)
Campesino – Villager/ Farmer
Ñapita – My little extra – a term of endearment for Maria Teresa because she is the youngest child
Dios Mio – My God
El cuco – The bogeyman
Don / Doña – Formal, respectful address for a man or a woman

CHAPTER TWO

Inmaculada Concepcion – The Immaculate Conception
-ito / -ita – Commonly added to the ends of names or nouns to mean “little” – often used to imply a fondness (example: Perro = “Dog” and “Perrito” = “Little Doggy”
Sor – Sister, as in a title for a nun
Asuncion – Assumption (in this case, the religious sense of “rising to the heavens”)
Milagros – Miracles
Socorro – Assistance
El colegio – School (or college)
Viva! – “Long Live”

CHAPTER THREE

La promesa – a promise
Three Kings Day – January 6 – this is an important religious holiday across much of Central America, as it celebrates the twelfth day of Christmas, and marks the end of the Christmas celebration
Tio / Tia – Uncle / Aunt – these terms are also used to refer to non-relatives who are close to the family
Sarampion – Measles
La guardia – the guard

CHAPTER FOUR

Padre – Father, as in a religious title. This can also mean “dad, ” or in the plural, “parents”
Guyabera – a men’s shirt, often with several pockets on the front, and decorative stitching or embroidery. These can be slightly formal, like wearing a nice button-down shirt with jeans

CHAPTER FIVE 

Primo/a – Cousin
Cedula – A Document
“How Much Meat, Butcher” – A game, usually for small children, where you hold the child’s hand, and ask how much meat you are going to cut off from the child’s arm. At each question, with your other hand, you move up from the kid’s wrist up toward his or her armpit. It sounds sort of weird, but it’s basically a fun and suspenseful tickling game. In this chapter, Jaimito is playing this game as a way of flirting with Dede.

CHAPTER SIX

Pega palo – An alcoholic beverage drunk in the Dom. Rep. that is rumored to be an aphrodisiac
Brujo – Witch
Sancocho – Traditional Central American soup, often with beef and yucca
Novio – a boyfriend
Cibaeña – A person from Cibao (the northern part of the D. R.)
Desgraciado – Disgraceful
M’ijo / M’iha – a shortening of “mi hijo” or “mi hija” (my son, my daughter – but this is more of a term of affection than simply a statement of parentage)
La bendición – the blessing
Dios te bendiga – May God bless you (not used in response to a sneeze)
Marchantas – Salespeople / Vendors

CHAPTER SEVEN

José Martí – famous Cuban poet and revolutionary
Luto – mourning
Arroz con leche (the song) – A very famous song and game for children across Central America. Kids stand in a circle and sing this song. One kid stands in the middle and then has to select a husband or wife from the rest of the group. It’s sort of like Duck, Duck, Goose, but instead of wildfowl, it’s weddings.
Jamonita – Ham
Cafecito – A Cuban espresso

CHAPTER EIGHT

Cuba Libre! – Free Cuba!
Patrimonio – Heritage
Quinceañera – A “Sweet Fifteen” party – these are huge in Latin American culture – this is an extravagant party thrown for a girl’s 15th birthday to symbolize her transition from childhood to womanhood.
Bohíos – Huts
Barrios – Neighborhoods

CHAPTER NINE

Una indirecta – a hint
Epa! – This is like saying “Heeeeeyyyyyyy!!!!”
Ya! – Enough!
Pastelito – A crispy pastry with cheese or guayaba spread inside it.
Fulanitos – A “So-and-so” or like a random person
Cervecita – a Beer
Llorona – A ghost of a woman

CHAPTER TEN

Puticas – Vulgar term for a woman
Sin vergüenzas – Without shame

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Santicló – This is a sort of Spanglish way of saying Santa Claus

CHAPTER TWELVE 

Compañero – Companion, but in common usage, it’s more like saying “Buddy”
Amorcito – My little love
Que mierda privado? What private shit? (Apologies for the vulgarity. Blame Peña.)
Gavillera –  Gunman
Calíes – Secret police, or spies, working for Trujillo
Pendejo – Vulgar putdown/insult
Si Dios quiere – If God wishes it
Mi mujer – My lady, or my wife
Jorge Almonte – Based on how the narrative blatantly points out that this might not have been the clerk’s name, this is possibly a mishearing of the Spanish, “Huye el monte” – or “Avoid the Mountain”
Abrazos – Embraces, or hugs

EPILOGUE

Azabache – Jet (as in the black stone – similar to onyx) – this stone is considered a good luck charm in much of Latin America, and is said to ward off ill spirits

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