New York Latino English

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New York Latino English, sometimes called Nuyorican English, is an ethnolect of New York dialect. It originated with the post-war Puerto Rican immigration to New York City and particularly the subsequent generations born in the New York dialect region who were native speakers of both English and Spanish. However, it is now the customary dialect of many Hispanic Americans of diverse national heritages in the New York metropolitan area United States, Therefore, terms like Nuyorican English and the related term Puerto Rican English are now misnomers. As Hispanic Americans are of diverse racial origins, New York Latino dialect serves as the distinction from non-Hispanic and non-Latino Americans in New York City.

The dialect shows influence of New York European American English and contact with Spanish. Importantly, this is a native variety of English, not learner English or interlanguage. It is sometimes spoken by people who know little or no Spanish. A few characteristics include:

  • The rhythm tends to be syllable-timed, meaning syllables take up roughly the same amount of time with roughly the same amount of stress. Standard American English is stress-timed, meaning that only stressed syllables are evenly timed. Most Romance languages (of which Spanish is a member) are syllable-timed.
  • /t/ and /d/ is realized as dental stops [] and [] rather than the standard American and AAVE alveolars [t] and [d] (also found in many Romance languages, including Spanish). Dentalization is also common in New York European American dialect.
  • Devoicing of voiced obstruent codas (e.g., characterize may be realized with a final [s])
  • Consonant cluster simplifications such as the loss of dental stops after nasals (e.g., bent) and fricatives, (e.g., left, test). This leads to a characteristic plural, in which words like tests are pronounced [t̪ɛst̪ɪs], sometimes written as testes.[citation needed]
  • /l/ onsets are clear, unlike those of most other New Yorkers or General American English
  • Lack of inversion or do support particularly in first and second person questions (I can go to the bathroom?)
  • Calques and direct translations of Spanish expressions and words (e.g., owned by the devil, instead of possessed by the devil, closed meaning locked)
  • /u/ after coronals is not fronted as in New York European American varieties.
  • Pronunciation is predominantly non-rhotic. The vernacular tends to be non-rhotic, and cultivated forms rhotic, as in AAVE and some European American varieties and Caribbean Spanish (wherein word-final /r/ is silent). Like other New Yorkers, many professional-class Hispanic New Yorkers from high socioeconomic backgrounds often speak with rhotic pronunciations instead of the non-rhotic pronunciations.

It is possible to differentiate this variety from an interlanguage spoken by second language speakers in that NYLE does not generally display the following features:

  • There are no confusions of tense and lax vowels, outside contexts where other native speakers often vary usage.
  • There is no addition of /ɛ/ before initial consonant clusters with /s/.
  • Speakers do not confuse of /dʒ/ with /j/, (e.g., Yale with jail).
  • /r/ and /rr/ are pronounced as alveolar approximant [ɹ] instead of alveolar tap [ɾ] or alveolar trill [r] in Spanish.


  • Slomanson, Peter & Michael Newman (2004) “Peer Group Identification and Variation in New York Latino English Laterals” English World-Wide, 25 (2) pp. 199–216 (
  • Wolfram, Walt (1974) Sociolinguistic Aspects of Assimilation: Puerto Rican English in New York City Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics ISBN 0-87281-034-8
  • Wolfram, Walt & Natalie Schilling Estes (2005) American English 2nd edition Blackwell ISBN 1-4051-1265-4
  • Wolfram, Walt & Ben Ward (2005) American Voices: How Dialects Differ from Coast to Coast Blackwell ISBN 1-4051-2109-2

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