What is the Best Way to Translate Grisi Siknis?
Dear Tico Times:
I read your article about “grisi siknis” with great interest (“Miskito Village Beats Grisi Siknis,” NT, Aug. 7).
I wish that you were allowed more space to explain some of the sociological explanations for the phenomenon.
Though I’m not certain, I believe that your article mistakes the origin of the word “grisi siknis.” In the article, you said that the term comes from a Miskito word.
However, while working with a Miskito group, I was told several times that the term comes from the English.
Hence, “grisi siknis” is a mispronunciation of the English term “crazy sickness.”
I could be wrong, of course. Since then, I’ve also read that “grisi siknis” translated to English means “jungle madness.”
Santa Barbara, Heredia, Costa Rica
Editor’s Note: ‘Grisi Siknis’ is a Miskito word that translates directly as ‘crazy sickness,’but it is more of an adaptation of English words rather than a mispronunciation. In Miskito language, which has taken several words from English, ‘grisi’ means crazy and ‘siknis’ means sickness.
For more information about this mysterious cultural-bound syndrom and a more in-depth explanation of Grisi Siknis, see “Grisi Siknis Outbreak Pits Town Against Evil Spirits”, NT, April 3, 2009.
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