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Native to Colombia
Ethnicity 3,500 (no date)[1]
Native speakers
(500 cited 1989)[2]
Spanish Creole
  • Palenquero
Language codes
ISO 639-3 pln
Glottolog pale1260[3]
Linguasphere 51-AAC-bc
Colombia - Bolivar - Mahates.svg

Palenquero (also palenque) is a Spanish-based creole language spoken in Colombia. Palenquero is the only Spanish-based creole in Latin America.[4] The ethnic group which speaks this Creole consisted of only 3,000 people in 1998. Palenquero is spoken in Colombia, in the village of San Basilio de Palenque which is southeast of Cartagena, and in some neighborhoods of Barranquilla.


A Palenquero woman selling fruit in the Plaza de San Pedro Claver, Cartagena, Colombia

The village was formed by escaped slaves (Maroons) and sometimes Native Americans around 1604 under the leadership of Benkos Biojo. Since many slaves had not been subjected to a lot of contact with people of European descent, the palenqueros spoke Creole languages constructed from the Spanish language and their own African ones.

Spanish speakers are usually unable to understand Palenquero. Ten percent of the population under 25 years of age spoke Palenquero in 1998. It is more commonly spoken by the elderly. There are some influences from Kongo, which is spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Palenquero words like "ngombe", which means cattle, are found in several Bantu languages.


Some words in Palenque, compared to Spanish and English translations:

Palenque Spanish English
burú dinero money
ngombe ganado cattle
ngubá maní peanut
posá casa house
tambore tambor drum
mai madre mother
bumbilo basura garbage
chepa ropa clothing
chitiá hablar to speak
ngaina pollo chicken
tabáko tabaco tobacco
hemano hermano brother
onde donde where
pueta puerta door
ngolo gordo fat
flo flor flower
moná niño child
ceddo cerdo pig
cateyano Español Spanish
foratero forastero outsider
kusa cosa thing, stuff
cuagro barrio neighborhood


The Lord's Prayer in Palenque:

Tatá suto lo ke ta riba sielo,
santifikaro sendá nombre si,
miní a reino sí, asé ño boluntá sí,
aí tiela kumo a sielo.
Nda suto agué pan ri to ma ría,
peddona ma fata suto,
asina kumo suto a se peddoná,
lo ke se fatá suto.
Nu rejá sujo kaí andí tentasión nu,
librá suto ri má. Amén.


  1. ^ Palenquero at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ Palenquero at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Palenquero". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ Romero, Simon (2007-10-18). "San Basilio de Palenque Journal - A Language, Not Quite Spanish, With African Echoes -". Retrieved 2010-02-13. 

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