What is Puerto Rican Spanish?

Puerto Rico’s Spanish is the product of a mixing of races and cultures that happened throughout more than 500 years of colonial rule.

Starting with the original Taíno inhabitants, the island’s language was also heavily influenced by the Spanish occupation, the slave trade, and in modern times by the United States.  Puerto Rico’s history has resulted in a diverse population that has created a unique form of Spanish.

Map of Puerto Rico

The Spainards that originally arrived in Puerto Rico were from the Southern Castilian region of Spain.  For that reason, the Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico most closely resembles the Spanish spoken in that region.

Southern Castilian Spanish was enriched with the words and expressions of the thousands of Africans that were brought over as slaves, as well as the native language of the indigenous Taino tribe.

Later, Puerto Ricans were introduced to the English language through American books, movies, music, visitors, and the diaspora as a large population of Puerto Ricans emigrated to the continental U.S.A.

The island’s physical and cultural isolation from the rest of Latin America has further aided to the development of a Spanish that is spoken so differently from the rest of Hispano-America that, at times, it can be difficult for other native Spanish-speakers to understand their speech.

Even though English is one of the two official languages of the island, many Puerto Ricans only speak Spanish among family and friends.

Puerto Ricans, or Boricuas (pronounced bo-ree-kwahs), that live in mainland US are known for displaying their bandera (flag) in their cars and homes.  The tendency to speak Spanglish, a mix of Spanish and English words, is also very common.

Puerto Ricans really love their Spanish and consider it to be a key part of their cultural identity.