English and Spanish are the two most widely spoken languages in Puerto Rico, a US territory with a literacy rate of 99%. Before Spanish occupation of Puerto Rico, the languages spoken in the country were of Taino descent. The languages of Puerto Rico represent more than identity but also the island’s history. The two principal languages in the country are a result of foreigner occupation and changing political landscapes.
Since the introduction of Spanish in the 15th century by invading Spaniards, the language has become the most dominant in the country. Over 95% of the population in Puerto Rico speaks the language in education, business, and daily life contexts. Spanish is also Puerto Rico's official language. Puerto Rico has developed a different version of the language. Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico borrowed from elements of African dialects, taino words, and English phrases. The difference with other Spanish dialects is not very pronounced, however, and Puerto Ricans understand other Spanish speakers from other countries.
English is another of the official languages, although it falls short on popularity. Less than 10% of Puerto Ricans speak the language. English was introduced after the US seized Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898. The US government instituted both English and Spanish as official languages of the US administration. Institution of English as the language of instruction in schools was challenged in 1930 by ethnic forces. Spanish was subsequently made the language of instruction while English was made the second language. Puerto Ricans are renowned for curating "Spanglish" which is a mixture of Spanish and English. The language is spoken mostly in or near tourism centers.
What Immigrant Languages Are Spoken In Puerto Rico?
Along with the two principal languages, some other non-indigenous languages are spoken, primarily by immigrants. These languages include French, German, Italian, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, and Hindi. Some of these languages are taught in several colleges and universities across the island.
What Indigenous Languages Are Spoken In Puerto Rico?
Taino language was the widely spoken language before Spanish occupation. The language was however declared extinct in the 19th century. Elements of the language, however, exist in the unique Spanish dialect of Puerto Ricans. Revival programs across the country are seeking to popularize the language. Research also shows a rise in the number of people who identify with the Taino ancestry. As it stands, Puerto Ricans speak non-indigenous languages.
The future linguistic state of Puerto Rico has been tied directly to the future political status of the country. Currently, the country is part of the Commonwealth of the US. Statehood could be in the territory's future, where the country could be a state of the US. A growing momentum for statehood in Puerto Rico is pushing to create a massive backing from Puerto Ricans. This situation has however raised concerns regarding language. States such as New Mexico and Arizona were previously Spanish-speaking before they became US states and presently have English as their current dominant language. Such precedence has been used to predict the language’s growth in the island country of Puerto Rico.
What Language is Spoken in Puerto Rico?
English and Spanish are the two most widely spoken languages in Puerto Rico. Over 95% of the population speaks Spanish.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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