10 April, 2006

The Republic of Zulia?

No, Zulia's not really going to secede. For those of you unfamiliar with Zulia, it's the famous north-western-most state of Venezuela and the primary source of oil for the country (in Lake Maracaibo). Maracaibo is its capital, and also the second largest city in Venezuela, after Caracas. What's more, "maracuchos" (the more "formal" version is "maracaibero," with the former being more "malandro," or 'thuggish', but then there's also the informal but less marked "marabino") are known for their distinct manner of speech, and being in Occidente, they have slightly different foods than the people of the Llanos, Caracas, the nearby Andes and even Oriente. Caraqueños and maracuchos love to poke fun at the differences that divide their respective cultures, specially via their linguistic peculiarities. As one person put it, while caraqueños think they're the only Venezuelans in the country, maracuchos see themselves as the center of the world. Maracuchos are also said to speak more "sing-songy" and vulgarly, and are generally thought to lack manners. Caraqueños, on the other hand, speak more eloquently and know how to treat their women. While maracuchos use "a la verga" liberally, caraqueños (esp. younger ones) do not spare in their use of "verga" as a versatile exclamation. Of course, these differences denote the usual divisionary, cultural politics that you can find the world round, but its interesting for those of you that keep up with things Venezuelan. In truth, Venezuelans in general, much like many Hispanophones, curse quite a bit and it's rarely frowned upon (coño, mierda, verga, bicho, coño 'e madre, all these words mark the everyday argot of the caraqueño).

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