Why does Puerto Rico speak different Spanish you may ask? The answer is simple, it’s a melting pot of different cultures and languages. Spanish has been spoken in Puerto Rico since the 16th century when the first Spanish settlers arrived on the island. Since then, the language has evolved and continues to change today.
There are over 300 million native Spanish speakers. Four million of them are from Puerto Rico. You will have heard that these people speak with a strong accent when they speak in Spanish, but this is not true.
The first thing to know is that Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898 when Spain was forced to give it up after losing in The Spanish-American War. There are still many people who wish for its independence from US rule and have fought hard through protests and political means over the years.
Spanish in Puerto Rico
Spanish is the official language in Puerto Rico. However, due to the island’s diverse culture, there are many dialects of Spanish that are spoken. In fact, different dialects can be traced back to the 16th century when the first Spanish settlers arrived on the island. The language has evolved over time and continues to change today.
The Puerto Rican accent has changed over the years. Slaves were forced to speak this language. The African accent made it hard to roll their R’s, and as a result, they became less pronounced.
One of the most commonly spoken dialects in Puerto Rico is called Spanglish. Spanglish is a mixture of English and Spanish that is used by many people on the island. It’s a way for them to communicate with others who speak both languages.
History of Puerto Rican Spanish
The best way to know about Puerto Rico is through its language. Through it, you will find many borrowed words that have been given Spanish endings. There are also many historic influences on the language that give it more layers.
The history of the language can be traced back to when Christopher Columbus found the island in 1493. It is believed that he thought it was an island off the coast of China because there were no other islands nearby and it seemed similar to one he had seen on his travels. He named this new land La Isla Española or the Spanish Island.
Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to visit Puerto Rico. Over time, more Spanish settlers arrived on the island and began to establish settlements. They brought with them their language and culture which slowly began to change the way that Spanish was spoken in Puerto Rico.
A long time ago, it is believed that the first Puerto Ricans came from South America. But we do not know much about how they spoke.
The Spanish conquistadors killed many Taínos. But we can find out something about their language because there are some words still here.
Puerto Rican sentences are like African languages. Linguists study the accent and found it similar to languages in Nigeria.
Today, there are many different dialects of the language that are spoken on the island. In Puerto Rico, it is typical for them to mix English and Spanish when they communicate with others who know both languages.
The Spanish wiped out 90% of the Boricua population. They did this by killing them and giving them smallpox.
Learning Puerto Rican-Specific Spanish
Puerto Rican Spanish is not just slang. There are also lots of great phrases that have to do with Puerto Rico. For example, “mi casa es tu casa” means that your home is my home. Learn some of these phrases and you’ll sound like a Puerto Rican in no time.
In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, it’s also important to understand Puerto Rican culture. You can learn more about the Spanish language and its history in Puerto Rico by reading this blog post.
Puerto Rican Spanish has two distinct dialects. The influence of English in almost every Puerto Rican’s life is influencing the language.
If you come from a different continent and hear some words or a different way of talking, that doesn’t mean it is wrong. You are just hearing a different type of Spanish. That is okay! Either way is fine. It’s important to keep learning Spanish so that you can speak with people from all over the world
Spanglish (What it Is and Isn’t)
Puerto Rican Spanish is influenced by English. Some people say that this makes it worse than the Spanish from Madrid.
Spanglish is a mix of Spanish and English. It is used for many purposes. One reason to use it is to speak faster. Another reason would be for a word that only exists in one language, or even because you like a certain word in both languages. If you use it often enough, one day Spanglish could become a language of its own.
Spanglish is one word but can be used with more words to create a sentence or phrase. If you are comfortable in Spanish and English, then Spanglish will not take long for you to learn! Use it all the time! You’ll have fun learning this new twist on an old tongue.
Puerto Rican Spanish Accent
Puerto Rican Spanish is different from other dialects. It has soft L’s, dropped final letters, and muted vowels. That makes it probably the smoothest Spanish accent.
The Puerto Rican accent is like that of the Taínos – an indigenous people of Puerto Rico. This language is very soft and it is different than what we know as Spanish.
The Puerto Rican accent has changed over time. Africans were forced to learn the language and the African accent made it hard for them to roll their R’s. So they didn’t do that as much.
Words with the letter S at the end are pronounced like an H. Words that have a consonant and a vowel at the end are pronounced without the last consonant.
The Puerto Rican accent is different from the Mexican accent. There are charts that show how different accents sound. This invention creates a map of the inside of your mouth. Repeat these 4 words “car, mart, far” to see if you can hear the difference. If you can, then your mouth is ready for this lesson.
The Puerto Rican accent has some sounds that are not in American English: the letter C makes a K sound; words like “muy” and boca make an OO-eee sound instead of EE (like we would say it), and there’s no J at all – so words like “jardín” sound more like HARD-in.
The letter S has two sounds in Puerto Rican Spanish; it can be pronounced as an English Z (like in the word salsa) or as a soft SH, almost not there at all. This is because of African influence on Caribbean Spanish.”
The trick to mapping out Puerto Rican vowels is to feel them in your mouth when you are speaking. Think about how they will be on the IPA map. You can even record yourself so that you know what your exact vowels are.
Don’t be shy! Practice with your friends and family. They will appreciate the fact that you are putting in a little extra effort to learn their language. Always try to make new words using both languages as much as possible, this is how Spanglish happens.
The most interesting thing was how much more centered the Puerto Rican vowels are.
The Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico is distinct from other forms of Spanish. It has softly pronounced Ls and dropped final letters, as well as muted vowels. Because of this, it’s quite probable that the Puerto Rican accent is the smoothest form of Spanish.
The Puerto Rican accent has changed over time, with influences from African settlers who were forced to learn Spanish. One difference in pronunciation is that S at the end of a word is often pronounced like an H. Another distinctive feature of Puerto Rican Spanish is the lack of a J sound; words that would typically have a J are pronounced with an H instead.
The letter C also has two sounds in Puerto Rican Spanish; it can be pronounced as an English Z (like in the word salsa), or as a soft SH, almost not there at all. This is because of African influence on Caribbean Spanish.
But what if we compare that diagram to the same 5 sounds in American English? Here is my map overlapped with a General American English Vowel Quadrilateral. To be fair to English, there are around 10 vowel sounds that are not on this map.
Now we know what the tongue is doing when making vowel sounds. Now we can explore some of the consonant sounds. They are a bit harder to show than vowels. We can explore 2 of the most important consonant sounds in Puerto Rican Spanish.
Puerto Rican Spanish has several distinct sound changes. The most prevalent sound change is a softening final vowel. When two vowels come one after the other, there’s also a D that gets contracted. An R that softens to an aspirated or L-like sound is another common variation.
This happens in two places: at the end of words or between two vowels. If your accent is so good people think you are a native, then you will have another problem.
Where to Look for Boricua Teachers & Exchanges
Puerto Rican Spanish teachers are hard to find. Most Puerto Ricans also speak English, so look on Instagram and Facebook for these hashtags and groups.
The best place online is on Facebook groups that teach the language, like this one: Spanish en Puerto Rico (you can find it by searching for “Spanish” and then clicking “Groups”) Or you can message me if you want more info. Here are some other places to find resources to learn Puerto Rican Spanish:
- YouTube has many channels that offer free lessons on the language.
- Puerto Rico Tourism offers a lot of great information about the culture and history of the island, as well as some audio and video resources for learning the language.
- There are also a few websites that offer lessons in the language.
- You can join a Facebook group called “Spanish en Puerto Rico” and ask other members for help or with questions about the language. This is also an excellent place to find teachers who are willing to give lessons in person, online and over Skype!
You can speak Puerto Rican Spanish with any Boricua person in the world, no matter the location.
This is a perfect time to start doing it! Start now and you’ll have plenty of boricua friends in no time at all 🙂 Use this as an excuse to travel more too!
Blessings from Puerto Rico! There are lots of ways to enjoy Boricua culture even if you aren’t there.
Puerto Rican Culture
Puerto Rican music is the best-known thing from Puerto Rico. Names of people will sound familiar. Salsa, bomba y plena, and reggaeton are the most popular genres of music in Puerto Rico.
The cuisine of Puerto Rico is a mix of Taíno, Spanish, African, Caribbean, and U.S. influences. Some common dishes are mofongo, pasteles, arroz con gandules (rice and beans), pernil (a roasted pork shoulder served with rice), alcapurrias, carne frita (deep fried ground beef) and empanadas.
The island is also known for its rum and cigars! The local brand of beer is Medalla.
Puerto Rico is a melting pot of cultures, and its Spanish reflects that. The language has evolved over time, taking on influences from the many different groups who have inhabited the island.