Languages of Costa Rica

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Costa Rica's official and predominant language is Spanish. The variety spoken there, Costa Rican Spanish, is a form of Central American Spanish.

Costa Rica is a linguistically diverse country and home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian peoples: Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí, and Buglere.

Immigration has also brought people and languages from various countries around the world. Along the Atlantic Ocean in Limón Province, inhabited primarily by Afro-Caribs, an English-based creole language called Mekatelyu or Patua is spoken to varying degrees. The Quakers community, who settled in Monteverde in the early 1950s, speaks an older dialect of English, using thou instead you.[1][2] Costa Rican Sign Language is also spoken by the deaf community and Costa Rican Spanish slang is known as "pachuco".

Traditionally, Costa Rica has had no policies in favor of multiculturalism. The greatest advance in this respect came with the amendment of Article 76 of the Constitution of Costa Rica, which now states: "Spanish is the official language of the Nation. However, the State will oversee the maintenance and cultivation of indigenous national languages."[3]

Living indigenous languages[edit]

Currently, in Costa Rica, there are five indigenous languages that are still used by their respective populations. All of them belonging to the Chibcha language family. Those languages are:

Extinct & Formerly Spoken[edit]

An indigenous language map of Costa Rica, pre-Spanish arrival.

Prior to the 9th century, only languages of the Chibchan family were spoken in Costa Rica. The extinct Huetar language, probably affiliated with the Chibchan family, served as the lingua franca for the interior of Costa Rica and was considered by the Spanish upon their arrival to be the "general language" of all Costa Rica.[4]

Historically, the range of the still-living Rama language also extended south into northern Costa Rica, where the Maléku language was also spoken. Boruca, an Isthmic Chibchan language, was formerly spoken across the southern Pacific slope while Bribri and Cabécar speakers inhabited the northern Atlantic slope.[4] An unknown language, known only as the lengua de Paro, was also spoken on the western coast of the Gulf of Nicoya.[5]

During the 9th century, speakers of the now-extinct Oto-Manguean language Chorotega controlled most of northeast Costa Rica. Other Mesoamerican peoples penetrated Costa Rican territory. The Nahua speakers known as Nicarao, named after their cacique of the same name, lived in enclaves in Guanacaste Province as well as near the delta of the Sixaola River,[5] speaking a dialect closer to nuclear Nahuatl in Mexico than to the Pipil of El Salvador and Nicaragua.[4]

At the beginning of the 21st century, two Costa Rican indigenous languages went extinct. Térraba, a variety of the Téribe language, was spoken in the indigenous reserve of Térraba in the southeast of Puntarenas province. Until its recent extinction, Boruca was spoken in the Boruca and Curré reserves in the southeast of Puntarenas province.

Sign languages[edit]

Several sign languages are used in Costa Rica. Attested ones are (New) Costa Rican Sign Language, Old Costa Rican Sign Language, Bribri Sign Language, and Brunca Sign Language.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://mfschool.org/community/history.htm
  2. ^ http://www.worldspirituality.org/quaker-language.html
  3. ^ "Costa Rica 1949 (rev. 2011)". Constitute. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Constenla Umaña, Adolfo (2011). "La diversidad linguística de Costa Rica: las lenguas indígenas.". Revista de Filología y Lingüística de la Universidad de Costa Rica (37(2)). pp. 93-106. 
  5. ^ a b Adolfo Constenla Umaña, Eugenia Ibarra Rojas (2009). "MAPA DE LA DISTRIBUCIÓN TERRITORIAL APROXIMADA DE LAS LENGUAS INDÍGENAS HABLADAS EN COSTA RICA Y EN SECTORES COLINDANTES DE NICARAGUA Y DE PANAMÁ EN EL SIGLO XVI" (PDF). Lingüística Chibcha (ISSN 1409-245X) XXVIII: 109-111.