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Cuba Language

Three languages are used in Cuba; Spanish Creole and ‘Lucumi’. Spanish, one of the romance languages, is the official language of socialist Cuba and mother tongue of 90% of the population.

Though the official language is Spanish the socialist regime does not prone a one language policy. Parliamentary debates are conducted in Spanish and there is no law concerning the linguistic policy in the constitution or in the ‘Gaceta official de la Republica de Cuba’. The Cuban Spanish is similar to that used in the Latin America. However, the Creole language has influenced and by the same time enriched its vocabulary colouring it by idiomatic expressions. Loan words   of Indian, African and Amerindian origin are also present in the Cuban Spanish. The African slaves have contributed to develop the Cuban Spanish. They gave it the intonation and accent that make today’s the Cuban speech.


‘Lucumi’ is a Yoruboid language of the Niger-Congo family. It is a secret language spoken in religious ceremonies only by the Santeria. This community is of African slave descent namely the Yoruba people who have blended their native religious practices, values, beliefs and traditions to Catholicism. ‘Lucumi’ unlike the Creole language is a dead language; people don’t use it in the community to interact. Creole is the first and second language of the Haitian Creole community or their descendants that migrated to Cuba fleeing Haitian revolution respectively. Most of them live in Guantanamo, Matanzas and City of Havana provinces. Creole language is a pidgin and the second most spoken language in Cuba. Developed out of necessity and for commercial purposes, the Europeans, indigenous people, as well as slaves communicated in Creole.  A blending of the three continents namely Africa, Europe is present in the Creole language.


Within the Cuban population more than 400, 000 (statistics made in 2001) speak fluently Creole while others understand and speak only rudimentary Creole. Classes in Creole are conducted in the provinces of Guantanamo, Matazas and the city of Havana where an important Haitian resident community and their descendants dwell. Creole is spoken in the Antilles Islands (Greater and Lesser Antilles) as well as in the Islands of the Indian Ocean namely; Seychelles, Reunion and Mauritius too.


Changes in the linguistic landscape have been brought by the dismantlement of the western block in1992 in Cuba. Today, Cuba has opened its frontiers to other nations. English, French and other foreign languages are being used in the tourism sector this in order to enable communication between foreigners (both investors and tourists) and Cubans.

 

 

 

 

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