The official languages in Puerto Rico are English and Spanish. Linguistically, Spanish is a Romance language while English is a North Sea Germanic language. Between the two, Spanish is the most influential language. Since 1898, the issue of language has been significant in the country. US officials persisted in making English the language of instruction in academic institutions up until 1930. However, there was resistance to this policy and Spanish was restored as the language of instruction, making English a second language. In 1991, a law that was made in 1902 giving both Spanish and English official recognition was reversed, and therefore Spanish became the official language. In 1993, however, Governor Pedro Rossello signed a bill, and both Spanish and English became official languages of Puerto Rico.

Out of the approximately four million people residing in Puerto Rico, about 95% speak the Spanish language. About 20% of Puerto Ricans speak English fluently.

The Spanish used in Puerto Rico borrows elements from African dialects, Taino words, and English phrases. The difference with other Spanish dialects is not very prominent, and therefore communication between Puerto Ricans and other Spanish speakers is not obstructed. Puerto Ricans are renowned for integrating Spanish and English, hence forming a slang commonly known as Spanglish. Some Spanglish words and phrases used in Puerto Rico include "rentar" which means to rent, "el parking" to mean a parking spot, "conflei" to mean cornflakes cereal, or "lonche" for lunch.

Taino was the language primarily spoken before the Spanish invasion. However, it was confirmed extinct in the 19th century. There are efforts in the country to resurrect the language. Elements of the Taino language can still be traced in Puerto Rican Spanish. Other languages spoken in the country are German, Chinese, French, Hindi, Italian, and Haitian Creole.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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