Languages of Nicaragua
The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish; however, Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak indigenous languages and also English. The communities located on the Caribbean coast also have access to education in their native languages.
- 1 Languages
- 2 Indigenous languages
- 3 Minority languages
- 4 Extinct languages
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
LanguagesLanguages of Nicaragua Language Speakers Arabic400 Chinese7,000 English20,334 Garífuna1,500 Miskito154,400 Sign language3,000 Spanish4,347,000 Sumo6,700 Rama24 Creole English30,000 Source: Ethnologue
Spanish, or Nicañol as Nicaraguan Spanish is sometimes referred to, is spoken by 90% of the country's population. In Nicaragua the Voseo form is common, just as in other countries in Central and South America such as Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, coastal parts of Colombia, Honduras or Paraguay. Spanish has many different dialects spoken throughout Latin America, Central American Spanish is the dialect spoken in Nicaragua.
- Phonetics and phonology
In Spanish, few words end in plosives. However, many such words are borrowed from English. In Nicaragua, all such stops are usually pronounced like 'c's. The Costa Rican ice cream shop Pops, with franchises in Central America is pronounced by many people as Pocs. Internet is sometimes pronounced Internec, Laptop is pronounced lactoc, and robót pronounced robóc. This is sometimes extended to native Spanish words where such stops are found at the end of a syllable. For example, Aceptar is often pronounced Acectar.
Some other characteristics of Nicaraguan phonology include:
- /s/ at the end of a syllable or before a consonant is pronounced like [h].
- j (/x/), is aspirated; it is soft as the /h/ in English (e.g.: Yahoo).
- Intervocalic /b/, /d/, and /g/ show no sign of reduction, and are much more pronounced than in most dialects.
- There is no confusion between /l/ and /r/, as in the Caribbean.
- /s/, /z/ and in some cases /c/ (as in cerrar) are pronounced as [s]
- /m/ at the end of a word tends to be pronounced as [n]
Indigenous languagesA sign in Bluefields in English (top), Spanish (middle) and Miskito (bottom).
Several indigenous peoples on the Caribbean coast still use their native language, the main languages being Miskito language, Sumo language, and Rama language. Other Indigenous languages spoken include Garifuna.
Miskito is a Misumalpan language spoken by the Miskito people in northeastern Nicaragua along the Caribbean coast, especially in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region. The Miskito language is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Nicaragua, this is because the Miskito people also hold the highest population of Indigenous people in the country.
Rama is one of the indigenous languages of the Chibchan family spoken by the Rama people on the island of Rama Cay and south of lake Bluefields on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. The Rama language is severely endangered. Their language was described as "dying quickly for lack of use" as early as the 1860s. By 1980, the Rama were noted as having "all but lost their original ethnic language", and had become speakers of a form of English creole instead, Rama Cay Creole which is spoken by 8,000 - 9,000 people. Language revival efforts began in 1980-1981 under the Sandinistas however, they were not successful. The fieldwork for the first dictionary of Rama was done during this time by Robin Schneider, a graduate student from the University of Berlin. In 1992, only approximately 36 fluent speakers could be found among an ethnic population of 649 individuals in 1992, of whom only a few scattered individuals live outside Nicaragua. The number of speakers on Rama Cay island was only 4 in 1992, due to language shift to English that engendered Rama Cay Creole.
Nicaragua has many minority groups. Many ethnic groups in Nicaragua, such as the Chinese Nicaraguans and Palestinian Nicaraguans, have maintained their ancestral languages while also speaking Spanish and/or English. Minority languages include Chinese, Arabic, German, Italian among others.
Nicaragua has a total of 3 extinct languages.
The Matagalpa language, which was also know as Pantasmas, was a Misumalpan language spoken by the indegenous Matagalpa people. In 1981 the population of the Matagalpa people was estimated at 18,000 - 20,000. The Matagalpa people live in the Central highlands of Nicaragua in the departments of Matagalpa and Jinotega. Matagalpa became extinct in the 19th century; the eponymous people now speak Spanish. Only a few short wordlists remain. It was closely related to Cacaopera.
The Subtiaba language is an extinct indigenous Oto-Manguean language which was spoken on the Pacific slope of Nicaragua. In 1925 Edward Sapir wrote an article based on scant evidence arguing for the inclusion of Subtiaba in the his hypothesized Hokan group. Others have linked Subtiaba to the Jicaque and Tol languages, but since Suárez's work it is generally accepted that Subtiaba is an Oto-Manguean language. When Sapir wrote about it in 1925 it was already very endangered or moribund. 
The Monimbo language is an extinct language which is not classified.
- ^ "Languages of Nicaragua", Ethnologue. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
- ^ Pim, Bedford & Seemann, Berthold (1869). Dottings on the Roadside, in Panama, Nicaragua, and Mosquito. London: Chapman and Hall
- ^ a b Craig, Colette (1990). Review: Dictionary of the Rama Language. International Journal of American Linguistics 56.2:293-304
- ^ Nora Rigby. Dictionary of the Rama language: Rama, English, Rama-Creole, Spanish, English, Rama (Speaking with the tiger). Berlin: D. Reimer. ISBN 3-496-00459-2.
- ^ "Matagalpa", Ethnologue. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
- ^ Sapir, Edward (1925). "The Hokan affinity of Subtiaba in Nicaragua". American Anthropologist (New Series) 27 (3,4): pp.402–435, 491–527. doi:10.1525/aa.1925.27.3.02a00040.
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