View Full Version : Help with Cuban culture / language

07-24-2015, 08:40 PM
Hi! One of the main characters of my story has a Cuban mother. She is 67 and left Cuba when she was about 15. I'm having the hero take a couple of other characters to visit his mother, and I'm getting hung up on the types of words and phrases she might use. Specifically:

How would a mother and son greet each other? They are fond of each other but only get together once or twice a year. I see lots of greeting phrases, but nothing clear on what family might use. Right now I have him ask Que tal? Would that be accurate?

Also, what kinds of words might she use as an interjection? Emphasis words or insults? At one point, I want to have her spit out a negative word about a guy she doesn't like, but Googling Cuban swear words gives a list of things I'm not sure a 67 year-old woman would use. I mean, she's strong-willed and independent, but she's not the type to throw out hard street slang.

Any insight into culture would be appreciated. And if there are stereotypes I should look out for, please let me know.

Sweet Tea
08-08-2015, 08:43 PM
a dear friend of my dad's escaped Cuba in the early 70s. I've contacted her to see if she can help. I will let you know what I find out as soon as I hear back from her!

Sweet Tea
08-09-2015, 05:23 PM
from my Cuban friend: A mother and son no matter how longwill greet each other with kisses, showing love. An interjection (caramba)means something like ( well, but why) and a dirty word CONO with a tilde overthe N, if she left Cuba at 15 she is fluent in Spanish (maybe broken Spanish,but Spanish) Latins are very kissing, even tears of joyeven fathers and sons and male brothers and sisters, uncles and even friendsand it is ok. Cono is not too bad all Cubans use it, its meaning is inaccordance with your tone of voice, mad, happy, surprised, impressed, pain,joy,is a versatile dirty (maybe) word

Deb Kinnard
08-09-2015, 07:24 PM
My Cuban profesora taught us "carrajo cońo" as a mild cuss word. "Carrajo" is very inoffensive when translated into English (means "garlic face") but it's used as a rather snotty pejorative toward a person who offends. The other ones Sra. used herself included "rayos", said all by itself or tacked onto a long flood of words we kids didn't always understand. If we were behaving really out-there badly, she'd roll her eyes to the sky and exclaim, "ĄDios mediante!" -- something like "God help me!"

She was a scream and still is the most fun. We're still in contact; she's in her early nineties.

PS, the ń is made in Word by holding down the Alt key and typing on the keypad 0241. All the diacriticals used in Spanish are available and the shortcuts shown in Character Map for Windows.

08-10-2015, 08:09 PM
Thank you so much! Very helpful! I'll add these words to the top of the list!