The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish. Nicaraguan Spanish is sometimes referred to as Nicañol. Linguistically, it is a romance language and is part of the Indo-European language family. Spanish is used in media, government administration, as a language of instruction in educational institutions, and by Nicaraguans in their everyday lives. The specific dialect of the language used in the country is Central American Spanish. The Spanish language developed in Nicaragua as a result of the country being a colony of Spain for more than 300 years. The Spanish alphabet consists of 27 letters, 26 of which are found in the English alphabet, and an additional letter ñ. English is also widely spoken and is sometimes used alongside the indigenous languages. It is largely used in the tourism sector.

Out of the 6,149,928 people residing in Nicaragua, approximately 95.3% use the Spanish language. About 200,000 people, which are equivalent to around 2.2% of the population, speak Miskito. Other languages are spoken by 2% of the population.

Nicaraguan Spanish, although similar to the Spanish spoken in other parts of the world, has some unique and distinguishing characteristics. For example, Nicaraguans replace /s/ with /h/, or fail to pronounce the letter /s/ when speaking. Also, the letter /m/ at the end of a word tends to be pronounced as /n/. Some unique words and expressions are thought to be uniquely Nicaraguan include words such as "pulperia", which translates to octopus shop and refers to a corner store, what would otherwise be a convenient store. "Ponte Chiva" is a phrase that is commonly used in Nicaragua, which means goat, but the phrase is used by Nicaraguans to mean "stay alert".

Besides Spanish and English, there are various indigenous languages spoken in Nicaragua. One of these languages is Garifuna. It is spoken by the Garifuna people of Nicaragua who arrived in the country from Honduras. The second minority language is Sumo. It is spoken by the Sumo people who live on the eastern coast of Nicaragua. Miskito is the most spoken indigenous language. Speakers of this language are mainly found in the Caribbean coastal area in northeastern Nicaragua. Another minority language in the country is Rama. However, the language is on the verge of extinction. It was formerly used by the Rama people inhabiting the Rama Cay Island and Caribbean coast. Over the years, these people started speaking Rama Cay Creole, a new form of Creole English. Other languages spoken in Nicaragua include Chinese, German, Arabic, and Italian.

This page was last modified on November 22nd, 2017