Communicate like a Dominican
Without Saying a Word
Every culture has its own dictionary of silent gestures that are used to communicate, but the people of the Dominican Republic are particularly expressive! Just like with language, some things don’t exactly translate into other cultures, so we created this visual guide of gestures that you will probably see during your vacation to Cabarete, Dominican Republic. We hope you find it useful (and fun!).
THIS IS NOT A SOMEONE ASKING FOR A KISS. It actually means “over there”. Many cultures think pointing with the index finger is very rude, so Dominicans have taken up pointing with their lips instead. This gesture is not exclusive to the Dominican Republic, however. Lip-pointing is also prevalent in Southeast Asia (especially among Filipinos), Australia, the Caribbean, Africa, and South America.
What Did You Just Say?
No, you do not stink (well maybe, but that is not what this gesture means). The person you are talking to either did not hear what you just said or they didn’t understand what you just said. So, repeat yourself until the nose-wiggling stops.
This gesture comes with a LOUD snapping sound and can mean a few things depending on the context. Let’s say a really pretty lady is walking by. She might be so hot that she deserves to be cooled off with the wind of the proverbial “oh snap”. Now, let’s say your dad walks into your room while you are chillin’ with your amigos and calls you out on not taking out the trash in front of them. Your friends will totally feel the burn and proceed to rub it in with this flamboyant move.
This little finger wave is important because it really drives home the fact that no means no. Sometimes you already know that the answer is no, so to save everyone a little time you can just bust out the “No No Finger”. It also is super useful in places where it is noisy, like out on the street when you are waiting for a guagua but a motoconcho passes by with a “beep beep” as to ask if you need a ride. Rather than shouting “No gracias, I am waiting for a guagua” you can just give the driver a little wave of the finger and he will know exactly what you mean.
This one is pretty self explanatory…we think. At least with the big white caption it is. We should note that maybe our model has gotten a little bit over zealous by adding in some chomping with his wave toward the mouth, but this could also mean that he is extra hungry. We are open minded and everyone is entitled to add their own flare to these gestures.
We have probably all seen some version of this one before, but the Dominican Republic can get really hot in some parts of the country, so the motion of wiping the brow could be a little more literal in this case. Keep in mind that not everything is to be taken literally though. Sometimes lifting a few cervezas to your lips on a sunny Saturday afternoon can also put a whoopin’ on you!
No this is not a grasshopper playing the world’s smallest violin. This is the sign for dinero (Spanish for money) because the gesture resembles the act of rubbing coins or bills together. It’s a pretty universal thing in all cultures, but notice the pursed lips on our model…this is an extra special flare that Dominicans often add to rubbing the fingers together.
There isn’t much to say about this one. It just is what it is. So, in lieu of some witty paragraph telling you where this gesture originated, we will just teach you the Spanish word for later on or afterwards: Después.
This is another gesture that came about because it is rude to interrupt someone when they are talking. So, rather than shouting vámonos (Spanish for let’s go) when you are super hungry and in need of some pica pollo pronto…you can just quietly use this sign to signify that you are ready to leave. Keep in mind that facial features represent the amount of urgency included with the need to scat. In this case, it seems rather urgent.
*Obviously most of these gestures are not exclusive to the Dominican Republic, but they are gestures that are universally understood here. If you care to elaborate on any of the examples we have provided or think we have left out any important ones, please let us know in the comments below.
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