The village was formed by escaped slaves (Maroons) and sometimes Native Americans. 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.