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Language in Nicaragua

Spanish is the official language in Nicaragua, but you'll find that a mix of English and native languages are also spoken in the country, particularly closer to the Carribean coast. There have been nine native languages identified along the coast, but only seven are considered "living languages." Matagalpa, Monimbo and Subtiaba are classified as extinct; experts believe the Rama language is nearing extinction.

Only a few people still speak Garifuna in Nicaragua, where the ethnic population for this blend of West African and Carib Indian cultures is estimated at 1,500. About 200,000 Nicaraguans still speak Miskito and roughly 6,700 speak Sumo-Mayangna, both Misumalpan languages. About 30,000 people speak Nicaraguan Creole English, also called Miskito Coast Creole. Nicaraguan Creole English speakers, who are usually the descendants of Africans, Europeans or Amerindians, live mainly around Bluefields.

As with South American countries like Argentina or Colombia, you may hear Nicaraguans referring to you as "vos." The voseo form, a second person sigular pronoun, is used in place of "tú." Although it´s still much more common to hear the voseo form in conversation, you may also notice it in a few advertisements or newspaper articles.

Particularly in the rural areas, Nicaraguans tend to drop the ends of their words or slur their consonants. This regional habit has made them the butt of jokes in neighboring countries, where Nicaraguans are either teased as being so poor they can´t afford an "s" or as mucos, a bull with no horns. Still, although Nicaraguan Spanish is more fluid and changeable than in other countries, those who already speak the language should have little trouble being understood.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : Sign Language in Nicaragua,

By Rachael Hanley
A sometime newspaper journalist with a heavy side of wanderlust, Rachael moved to Quito in November to work on the V!VA staff. She is currently...
28 Nov 2008

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