What is the Best Way to Translate Grisi Siknis?

September 11, 2009

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.”

Matthew Blair

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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