Costa Rica: A Global Studies Handbook

By Meg Tyler Mitchell; Scott Pentzer | Go to book overview

Costa Rican Language, Food,
and Etiquette

LANGUAGE

As with many other characteristics, in their use of the Spanish language Costa Ricans are very proud of their “idiosyncrasies.” One of the most notable of these is the use of vos rather than the more common for the second person singular “you.” This form is used in some other Central American countries as well as in Argentina, but it is not common elsewhere, and most students of Spanish do not learn it. Vos is apparently more closely related to the now-archaic forms that would have been used by the Spanish when they arrived to conquer the New World in the 16th century, and it remained common only in the most out-of-the-way corners of the empire. Vos is really the simplest form of “you” and is constructed in the present tense by removing the final -r from the infinitive form of the verb and adding an -s. Thus, many of the worst irregular forms of the verb (the bane of so many beginning Spanish students) are avoided. The accent is written on the last vowel: poder becomes podés; hablar becomes hablás. There are also slight variations in the past and imperative forms of the verb.

The difficulty is not so much, however, in how to form the verb with vos, but when to use it. Most Costa Ricans, in fact, do not use it, preferring the Usted form for “you.” In most Spanish speaking countries, Usted is reserved for formal situations. Not so in Costa Rica. One hears it everywhere: between co-workers, good friends, and even family members. Usted is used by children to address adults, as well as vice

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Costa Rica: A Global Studies Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor’s Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Maps xix
  • Part One - Narrative Section 1
  • Chapter One - Geography and History 3
  • Chapter Two - The Costa Rican Economy 93
  • Chapter Three - Politics and Institutions 169
  • Chapter Four - Society and Culture 227
  • Part Two - Reference Section 293
  • Key Events in Costa Rican History 295
  • Significant People, Institutions, Places, and Events 303
  • Costa Rican Language, Food, and Etiquette 321
  • Costa Rica–Related Organizations 333
  • Annotated Bibliography of Recommended Works on Costa Rica 345
  • Index 355
  • About the Authors 367
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