Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a Central American country whose population is estimated at 4.5 million people. Costa Rica’s official and predominant language is Spanish, due to the country’s colonial history. The variety of Spanish spoken in Costa Rica is called Costa Rican Spanish, which is a form of Central American Spanish.

Costa Rica is also home to many foreign languages as a result of the large number of immigrants from all over the world who have come inside the country in the recent years.

Jamaican patois, also known as Mekatelyu, is a Creole-English language spoken along the Carribean coast. This language is spoken by the Afro-Carib immigrants who have settled primarily in the Limón Province.

Around 10.7% of the adult population of Costa Rica speaks English, while 0.7% speak French, and 0.3% who speak Portuguese or German as a second language.

Mennonite immigrants to Costa Rica speak Plautdietsch, while the settlers of Monteverde called the Quakers community, speak an older dialect of English using thou instead of you.

Furthermore, Costa Rica is home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the pre-Columbians’ descendants. These languages include: Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí, and Buglere. Maléku is also known as Guatuso and is spoken in the north-eastern Alajuela Province by around 800 people. This language belongs to the Chibchan language family’s Votic branch. Cabécar is spoken in the Talamanca mountain range and in the southern Pacific region. It is the sister language of Bribir in the Isthmic branch of the Chibchan family of languages. Bribri is spoken on the Atlantic slope of the country, the Talamanca mountain range, and the south Pacific region. It forms the Viceitic subgroup of Chibchan languages along with Cabécar. Guaymí is also known as Ngäbere or Movere and is spoken in various indigenous territories and provinces. Along with Buglere, it belongs to the Guaymic subgroup of the Chibchan languages. Buglere, also known as Bocotá, is spoken in the same territories as Guaymí. The two languages are also closely related to one another.

Costa Rican Spanish slang is known as “pachuco” and is primarily used among the Costa Rican youth. Furthermore, Costa Rican Sign Language is utilized by the people with hearing impairments.

A number of indigenous languages spoken in Costa Rica have gone extinct over the years, with more of them endangered today. Thus, there is a need to protect the existing languages given that they enrich the country’s linguistic and cultural diversity, and the government of the country has been taking steps in this direction during the recent years.


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