Equatoguinean Spanish

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Equatoguinean Spanish
Español ecuatoguineano
Native speakers
No native speakers.
1.1 million L2 speakers. (2010)[1]
Early forms
Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Equatoguinean Spanish (Spanish: Español ecuatoguineano) is the variety of Spanish spoken in Equatorial Guinea. This is the only Spanish variety that holds national official status in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is regulated by the Equatoguinean Academy of the Spanish Language and is spoken by about 90% of the population, estimated at 1,170,308 for the year 2010[2] (though population figures for this country are highly dubious), all of them second-language speakers.[3]


Centro Cultural de España (Cultural Center of Spain) in Malabo.

Spanish Guinea (along with the islands of Bioko, formerly Fernando Pó) became a Spanish colony after being obtained from Portugal in exchange for American territories in 1778 under the First Treaty of San Ildefonso. Full colonization of the continental interior was not established until the end of the 19th century. The present nation of Equatorial Guinea became independent on October 12, 1968.

1000 Equatoguinean pesetas banknote from 1969

While the country has maintained its indigenous linguistic diversity, Spanish is the national and official language. Spanish is spoken by about 90% of the population in Bioko and coastal Río Muni and between 60% to 70% in the interior of Río Muni.[4]


Floral inscription with the name of the country in Spanish in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

Equatoguinean Spanish is more like Peninsular Spanish than American Spanish dialects. Here are some features of Equatoguinean Spanish:[5]

  • Syllable-final /s/ is alveolar, rather than glottal.[clarification needed]
  • /ɾ/ and /r/ are merged.[clarification needed]
  • Articles are omitted.
  • The pronoun usted can be used with the verbal conjugation.
  • There is no distinction between indicative and subjunctive moods.
  • Vosotros is used interchangeably with ustedes.
  • The preposition en replaces a to mark a destination: voy en Bata instead of voy a Bata.

Comparison to Caribbean Spanish[edit]

According to John Lipski, a comparison between the Spanish spoken in Equatorial Guinea and Caribbean Spanish does not hint at an influence of African languages in Caribbean Spanish, despite some earlier theories. Both varieties of Spanish are very different. The main influence on the Spanish spoken in Equatorial Guinea seems to be the varieties spoken by native Spanish colonists.[6] In a different paper, however, Lipski notes that the phonotactics of African languages might have reinforced, in Caribbean Spanish, the consonant reduction that was already taking place in Spanish from Southern Spain.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Gazetteer". Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  2. ^ "World Gazetteer". Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  3. ^ Penny, Ralph (2002) [1991]. A History Of The Spanish Language (2 ed.). p. 33. Spanish is spoken by part of the population of Equatorial Guinea. Spanish is the language of education and the press, and is the only common language in an otherwise linguistically diverse country. However, those who speak Spanish use it as a second language, often acquired in adulthood and therefore not always in a fully native manner.
  4. ^ John M. Lipski. "The Spanish of Equatorial Guinea: research on la hispanidad's best-kept secret" (PDF). Personal.psu.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
  5. ^ Lipski, John (2004). "The Spanish Language of Equatorial Guinea". Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. 8: 120–123. JSTOR 20641705.
  6. ^ John Lipski. "A test case of the Afro-hispanic connection" (PDF). Personal.osu.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
  7. ^ John Lipski. "A new look at Afro-Hispanic Phonology: th case of Equatorial Guinea" (PDF). Personal.osu.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-20.