Join the conversation:

The Colombian who teaches Colombian to Colombians

The Colombian who teaches Colombian to Colombians

Posted by Juan Gavasa on November 05, 2014

Ever spoken to someone who speaks the same language as you, and not understood what they were talking about?

Colombia is a Spanish-speaking country. But when a someone from the capital Bogota meets a "Costeño" from the 1,600-kilometre-long Caribbean coast, they often seem to be speaking a different language. People from the coast use strange expressions ("poke the donkey or I'll leave" = "Hurry up") and sprinkle their speech with onomatopoeic words that have no real meaning. The way they speak is so different from the rest of Colombia that on Wikipedia there is even a separate entry for their unofficial dialect. They say "open up" ("abrete") when they want to leave a gathering; they refer to a "camel" ("camello") when talking about having a job.

Enter Martina La Peligrosa ('the dangerous one'). She is using Instagram to "teach" her 230,000 followers expressions from her region. And her linguistic fight back is already causing a wave. Her series of 15-second videos called "Clases de Cordobés" ('Lessons of a Cordoban) has been widely shared across Latin America. Each one is a lesson about what an individual word or phrase means. "I started this video blog because I'm fascinated by my own accent," La Peligrosa herself tells BBC Trending.

Her first post on Instagram about a year ago was a sequence of meaningless slang expressions from the Caribbean coast, delivered with a very strong accent. She did it for the fun of it and for a very specific audience: fellow residents of the Colombian region of Cordoba. But people from around the country messaged her and asked her to post more videos. "I was really surprised by its success, because I thought it would be something too local," she says. She is now up to lesson number 33 and is discovering that other countries have the same slang expressions as Colombia's Caribbean coast. "I've always thought only we spoke that way, but I keep receiving comments from people in Puerto Rico or Venezuela telling me that they talk like us," she says. Eleyda Rodriguez, a Colombian philosopher and editor of the Maestros del web blog, believes Llorente's videos have three key ingredients of success on social media: "She is funny, talented and attractive," says Rodriguez.

The Costeños live a laid-back lifestyle that people in the rest of the country like to stereotype, often referring to them with a mix of jealousy and derision. However, Rodriguez explains that the videos also challenge the stereotypes of the Caribbean coast, and in that sense they have something in common with the work of one of the region's most important cultural figures. "When I saw the video I thought of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and how he portrayed the culture of the Colombian coast," says Rodriguez. "It doesn't surprise me that that this microblog is so successful. You look at it and you recognise them (the Costeños) right away".

Link To Full Article: 

Facebook comments

Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across PanamericanWorld.

Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across the Caribbean Region on PanamericanWorld.