Language in Cuba: A Beginner's Guide

October 10, 2012
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Part of what makings traveling to a new country special is the sensory experience. You see new landscapes and architecture, taste delicious new foods, breath in the scent of forests or ocean, and you hear things too — music, the chatter of birds, and of course, new language. I always try to brush up on the language of a country I'm visiting before I go, so if you're planning on joining International Expeditions’ people-to-people legal Cuba travel program, here are some tips for talking with and to the locals.

Spanish is far and away the most popular language on the island nation, and is spoken by pretty much everyone. But like any language, there are many dialects and accents that can sometimes make the Spanish you picked up in Argentina sound like a different language from the Spanish you hear in Columbia.

Cuban Spanish has its own unique traits as well. You may find that some Cuban citizens drop the letter "f" or pronounce it as an "ah." The letters "m" and "n" may also be pronounced as "ng."

In addition to Spanish, Creole is also used by a large part of the population. This is due mostly to the arrival of many Haitian immigrants starting in the 19th century. Creole is now the second most widely used language in Cuba.

There are also blends of other African dialects that have made their way to Cuba via immigration. Along with Creole, these various dialects have left their mark on the traditional Spanish spoken in Cuba, adding new words and terms to the vocabulary and slang.

Fortunately, for non-Spanish speakers, many people in Cuba speak English thanks to the tourism and medical tourism industries. Plus, as with all International Expeditions natural travel experiences, you will be fully escorted by an English-speaking guide at all times.

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