What Languages Are Spoken in Venezuela?

Spanish and indigenous languages are the official languages of Venezuela.

Spanish is the most popularly spoken language in Venezuela, although approximately 40 different languages are spoken throughout the country. Venezuela's Constitution of 1999 made Spanish as well as the nation's indigenous forms of language as the official languages. Most of the languages of Venezuela are still unclassified. Venezuela's ethnic population includes mestizos, who make up about 51.6% of the total inhabitants, and 43.6% of the population is of European descent. 3.6% of Venezuelans have African ancestry, while 3.2% are Amerindians.

Official Language of Venezuela

Most of the colonizers who settled in Venezuela were from the Canary Islands, Galicia, Andalusia, and Basque Country. Canarian particularly had a significant influence on the structure of Venezuelan Spanish, and the Venezuelan and Canarian accents may prove difficult for Spanish speakers to differentiate between them. Portuguese and Italian immigrants aided contact between their languages and Venezuelan Spanish. African slaves also contributed some African words to the language, as did the native communities. One variation of Venezuelan Spanish is the Caracas dialect, which is common in the capital city of Caracas. This dialect is viewed as the standard Spanish of the country, and is used by the media. Other dialects are Lara, Zulian, Margaritan, and Andean.

Indigenous Languages of Venezuela

The native languages spoken in Venezuela trace their origin to the languages of the Arawaks, Chibcha, and Caribs. Some indigenous societies in remote areas are only familiar with their languages and do not understand Spanish. The Warao language is common among the Warao community. Its 28,000 speakers mostly reside in the Orinoco Delta region in northeastern Venezuela. The Wayuu language has 305,000 speakers from the Wayuu community that settled in northwestern Venezuela. Wayuu is among the Arawakan languages. The Pemon language is classified in the Cariban family, and it has 30,000 speakers in the Pemon society located in the country's southeast. Another Cariban dialect is Panare, which has 3,000 to 4,000 speakers residing in the Bolivar State situated in southern Venezuela. Mapoyo is another Carib dialect which is used along the Parguaza and Suapure Rivers. Mapoyo speakers are about 365 and its dialects, namely Yabarana and PĂ©mono, are considered extinct. The Yaruro language is native to the Yaruro people whose settlements lie along the Apure, Orinoco, Meta, and Cinaruco Rivers. Most of Venezuela's native languages lie in the Cariban and Arawakan families.

Foreign Languages Spoken In Venezuela

The English language has mostly been adopted by Venezuelan professionals, academics, and in high and middle-class societies. The use of the language increased in the 20th century as oil companies from English speaking nations set up operations in Venezuela. The language is included in secondary education as well as in the bachillerato. Waves of over 300,000 Italians migrated to Venezuela in the latter half of the 20th century and introduced their language, and also influenced the country's local idioms. French and Latin are part of the humanities curriculum of the high schools. The presence of the Chinese language is attributed to Chinese immigrants and descendants. Portuguese is spoken by about 254,000 residents of Venezuela.

Venezuelan Sign Language

The first Venezuelan deaf community to make use of a sign language was in the 1930s. The first institution for the hearing impaired began operating in Caracas in 1935. Venezuelan Sign Language was first used in schools in 1937.

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