Spanish-based creole languages

A Spanish creole, or Spanish-based creole language, is a creole language (contact language with native speakers) for which Spanish serves as its substantial lexifier.

A number of creole languages are influenced to varying degrees by the Spanish language, including the Philippine creole varieties known as "Chavacano", Palenquero, and Bozal Spanish. Spanish also influenced other creole languages like Papiamento, Pichinglis, and Annobonese.

Any number of Spanish-based pidgins have arisen due to contact between Spanish and other languages, especially in America, such as the Panare Trade Spanish used by the Panare people of Venezuela.[1] However, few of these ever creolized.

Spanish creole languages


Chavacano (also Chabacano) refers to a number of Spanish-based creole language varieties spoken in the Philippines. Linguists have identified a number of different varieties including: Zamboangueño, Caviteño, Ternateño (where their variety is locally known as Bahra), and Ermitaño. The variety found in Zamboanga City has the most number of speakers and is considered to be the most stable while the other varieties are considered to be either endangered or extinct (i.e. Ermitaño).

Creole varieties are spoken in Cavite City and Ternate (both on Luzon); Zamboanga, Cotabato and Davao (on Mindanao), Isabela City and other parts of province of Basilan and elsewhere. According to a 2007 census, there are 2,502,185 speakers in the Philippines. It is the major language of Zamboanga City.

The different varieties of chavacano are mostly intelligible to one another but differ slightly in certain aspects such as in the usage of certain words and certain grammatical syntax. Most of the vocabulary comes from Spanish, while the grammar is mostly based on the Austronesian structure. In Zamboanga, its variant is used in primary education, television, and radio. Recently English and Filipino words have been infiltrating the language and code-switching between these three languages is common among younger speakers.

The name of the language stems from the Spanish word Chabacano which roughly means "tasteless", "common", or "vulgar",[2] this Spanish word, however, has lost its original meaning and carries no negative connotation among contemporary speakers.

For more information see the article on Chavacano, or the Ethnologue Report on Chavacano.[3]



Palenquero (also Palenque) is a Spanish-based creole spoken in Colombia.

The ethnic group which speaks this creole consisted only of 2,500 people in 1989.

It is spoken in Colombia, in the village of San Basilio de Palenque which is south and east of Cartagena, and in some neighborhoods of Barranquilla.

The village was founded by fugitive slaves (Maroons) and Native Americans. Since many slaves had been only slightly exposed to contact with white people, the palenqueros spoke creole languages derived from Spanish and from their ancestral African languages.

Spanish speakers are unable to understand Palenquero. There is some influence from the Kongo of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1998, only 10% of the population younger than 25 spoke Palenquero. It is most commonly spoken by the elderly.

For more information see the Ethnologue Report on Palenquero.[4]

Bozal Spanish

Bozal Spanish is a possibly extinct Spanish-based creole language that may have been a mixture of Spanish and Congolese, with Portuguese influences.[5] Attestation is insufficient to indicate whether Bozal Spanish was ever a single, coherent or stable language, or if the term merely referred to any idiolect of Spanish that included African elements.

Bozal Spanish was spoken by African slaves in Cuba[5] and other areas of South and Central America from the 17th century up until its possible extinction at around 1850.[6]

Esmeraldeño-Chota Creole

Esmeraldeño-Chota Creole is a pidgin Spanish spoken by some of the Afro Ecuadorian populations in the Esmeraldas Province, Carchi Province and the Imbabura Province the language could be classified as just a dialect of Spanish, but has some English influence from escaped slaves from the Caribbean. The language was developed by escaped slaves from the Colombian coast and the Caribbean also from slaves brought to the region and immigrants from the Caribbean that settled on the northern Ecuadorian coast. Because of the thick jungles of Esmeraldas and the high mountains that surround the Chota valley the language was able to obtain Quechua influences and keep their Niger-Congo influences. Today it is spoken by nearly 250,000 people in northwestern Ecuador

Spanish-influenced creole languages


The Annobonese language, locally called Fa d'Ambö (Fa d'Ambu or even Fá d'Ambô) is a Portuguese-based creole, similar to Forro, with some borrowings from Spanish. It is spoken by 9,000 people on the islands of Ano Bom and Bioko, in Equatorial Guinea. In fact, Fa d'Ambu shares the same structure of Forro (82% of lexicon).

In the 15th century, the island was uninhabited and discovered by Portugal but, by the 18th century, Portugal exchanged it and some other territories in Africa for Uruguay with Spain. Spain wanted to get territory in Africa, and Portugal wanted to enlarge even more the territory that they saw as the "New Portugal" (Brazil). Nevertheless, the populace of Ano Bom was against the shift and was hostile toward the Spaniards. This hostility, combined with their isolation from mainland Equatorial Guinea and their proximity to São Tomé and Príncipe—just 400 km from the island—has assured the maintenance of its identity.

Fa d'Ambu has gained some words of Spanish origin (10% of lexicon), but some words are dubious in origin because Spanish and Portuguese are closely related languages.


Papiamento is a Portuguese-based creole language spoken in the Dutch West Indies,[7] with some influences from Indigenous American languages, English, Dutch and Spanish.[8]. Primarily spoken in Curaçao and Bonaire by 179,000 people in 1998 and Aruba by 100,000 people in 2004.. Today, Spanish influence on the language is strong, but, due to the similarities between the languages, it is difficult to ascertain whether a certain feature is derived from Portuguese or Spanish.[9]


Pichinglis is spoken on Bioko island, Equatorial Guinea. It originated with the arrival of Krio speakers from the mainland. Krio is a creole that derives most of its vocabulary from English, but the Spanish colonization of Guinea exerted Spanish influence on its lexicon and grammar.

San Andrés–Providencia Creole

San Andrés–Providencia Creole is one of the main languages of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia (alongside Spanish and English) which uses expression and words from English (73%), Spanish (17%) and African languages.

See also


  • For a discussion about the origins of Papiamentu, see "Papiamentu facts",[10] an essay by Attila Narin.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Panare Trade Spanish". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ "Chabacano | Spanish-English dictionary". EUdict. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  3. ^ "Chavacano". Ethnologue. 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  4. ^ "Palenquero". Ethnologue. 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  5. ^ a b Clements, J. Clancy. "Bozal Spanish of Cuba", The Linguistic Legacy of Spanish and Portuguese, Cambridge University Press, 2009. 9780511576171
  6. ^ Lipski, John M. "Where and how does bozal Spanish survive?", Spanish in Contact: Policy, Social and Linguistic Inquiries, John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2007.
  7. ^ Jacobs, Bart (2012-03-23). "The Upper Guinea origins of Papiamento" (PDF). Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
  8. ^ Romero, Simon (2010-07-05). "Willemstad Journal: A Language Thrives in Its Caribbean Home". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Papiamentu". Ethnologue. 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  10. ^ "Papiamentu - Papiamento". 1999-04-07. Retrieved 2015-10-08.

External links


Chavacano or Chabacano [tʃaβaˈkano] refers to a number of Spanish-based creole language varieties spoken in the Philippines. The variety spoken in Zamboanga City, located in the southern Philippine island group of Mindanao, has the highest concentration of speakers. Other currently existing varieties are found in Cavite City and Ternate, located in the Cavite province on the island of Luzon. Chavacano is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia.The different varieties of Chavacano differ in certain aspects like vocabulary but they are generally mutually intelligible by speakers of these varieties, especially between neighboring varieties. While a majority of the lexicon of the different Chavacano varieties derive from Spanish, their grammatical structures are generally similar to other Philippine languages. Among Philippine languages, it is the only one that is not an Austronesian language, but like Malayo-Polynesian languages, it uses reduplication.

The word Chabacano is derived from Spanish, roughly meaning "poor taste" or "vulgar", though the term itself carries no negative connotations to contemporary speakers and has lost its original Spanish meaning.

Creole language

A creole language, or simply creole, is a stable natural language that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages at a fairly sudden point in time: often, a pidgin transitioned into a full-fledged language. While the concept is similar to that of a mixed or hybrid language, a creole is often additionally defined as being highly simplified when compared to its parent languages. However, a creole is still complex enough that it has a consistent system of grammar, possesses a large stable vocabulary, and is acquired by children as their native language, all of which distinguishes a creole language from a pidgin.

The precise number of creole languages is not known, particularly as many are poorly attested or documented. About one hundred creole languages have arisen since 1500. These are predominantly based on European languages such as English and French due to the European Age of Discovery and the Atlantic slave trade that arose at that time. With the improvements in ship-building and navigation, traders had to learn to communicate with people around the world, and the quickest way to do this was to develop a pidgin, or simplified language suited to the purpose; in turn, full creole languages developed from these pidgins. In addition to creoles that have European languages as their base, there are, for example, creoles based on Arabic, Chinese, and Malay. The creole with the largest number of speakers is Haitian Creole, with almost ten million native speakers, followed by Tok Pisin with about 4 million, most of whom are second-language speakers.

The lexicon (or, roughly, the base or essential vocabulary – such as "say" but not "said, tell, told") of a creole language is largely supplied by the parent languages, particularly that of the most dominant group in the social context of the creole's construction. However, there are often clear phonetic and semantic shifts. On the other hand, the grammar that has evolved often has new or unique features that differ substantially from those of the parent languages.

Iberian Romance languages

The Iberian Romance, Ibero-Romance or simply Iberian languages is an areal grouping of Romance languages that developed on the Iberian Peninsula, an area consisting primarily of Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Andorra, and in southern France which are today more commonly separated into West Iberian and Occitano-Romance language groups.

Evolved from the Vulgar Latin of Iberia, the most widely spoken Iberian Romance languages are Castilian (Spanish), Portuguese, Catalan and Galician. These languages also have their own regional and local varieties. Based on mutual intelligibility, Dalby counts seven "outer" languages, or language groups: Galician-Portuguese, Spanish, Astur-Leonese, "Wider"-Aragonese, "Wider"-Catalan, Provençal+Lengadocian, and "Wider"-Gascon.In addition to those languages, there are a number of Portuguese-based creole languages and Spanish-based creole languages, for instance Papiamento.

Languages of the Philippines

There are some 120 to 187 languages and dialects in the Philippines, depending on the method of classification. Almost all are Malayo-Polynesian languages. A number of Spanish-influenced creole varieties generally called Chavacano are also spoken in certain communities. The 1987 constitution designates Filipino as the national language and an official language along with English.

On 30 October 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law, Republic Act 11106, declaring Filipino Sign Language or FSL to be the Islands' official sign language. Hence, this will be the government's official language to communicate with the Filipino Deaf.

While Filipino is used for communication across the country's diverse linguistic groups and is used in popular culture, the government operates mostly using English. Including second-language speakers, there are more speakers of Filipino than English in the Philippines. The other regional languages are given official auxiliary status in their respective places according to the constitution but particular languages are not specified. Some of these regional languages are also used in education.The indigenous scripts of the Philippines (such as the Kulitan, Tagbanwa and others) are used very little; instead, Filipino languages are today written in the Latin script because of the Spanish and American colonial experience. Baybayin, though generally not understood, is one of the most well-known of the indigenous Filipino scripts and is used mainly in artistic applications such as on the Philippine banknotes, where the word "Pilipino" is inscribed using the writing system. Additionally, the Arabic script is used in the Muslim areas in the southern Philippines.


A lexifier is the language that provides the basis for the majority of contact languages' vocabulary, or lexicon. Often this language is also the dominant, or superstrate language, though this is not always the case, and can be seen in the historical Mediterranean Lingua Franca. In mixed languages, there are no superstrates or substrates, but instead two or more adstrates. One adstrate still contributes the majority of the lexicon in most cases, and would be considered the lexifier. However, it is not the dominant language, as there are none in the development of mixed languages, such as in Michif.

List of countries where Spanish is an official language

The following is a list of countries where Spanish is an official language, plus a number of countries where Spanish, or any language closely related to it, is an important or significant language.

List of creole languages

A creole language is a stable natural language developed from a mixture of different languages. Unlike a pidgin, a simplified form that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups, a creole language is a complete language, used in a community and acquired by children as their native language.

This list of creole languages links to Wikipedia articles about languages that linguistic sources identify as creoles. The "subgroups" list links to Wikipedia articles about language groups defined by the languages from which their vocabulary is drawn.

List of numbers in various languages

The following tables list the cardinal number names and symbols for the numbers 0 through 10 in various languages and scripts of the world. Where possible, each language's native writing system is used, along with transliterations in Latin script and other important writing systems where applicable. In some languages, numbers will be illustrated through to 20.

Romance copula

The copula in some of the Romance languages, the equivalent of the verb to be in English, is relatively complex compared to its counterpart in many other languages. A copula is a word that links the subject of a sentence with a predicate (a subject complement). Whereas English has one main copula verb (and some languages like Russian mostly express the copula implicitly) some Romance languages have more complex forms.

Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and some other Romance languages have more than one copula verb. This is because the verb or verbs meaning "to be" in the Romance languages are derived from three Latin verbs:

sedēre "to sit" (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *sed-, as in English sit).

esse "to be" (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h1es-, as in English is) The verb esse was an irregular, suppletive verb, with some of its forms (e.g. fuī "I was/I have been") taken from the Proto-Indo-European verb *bʰuH- meaning "to become" (as in English be).

stāre "to stand" or "to stay" (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *steh2-, as in English stand and German stehen).As the Romance languages developed over time, the three separate Latin verbs became just one or two verbs in the Romance languages.

The reduction of three separate verbs into just one or two appears to have occurred as follows:

The irregular infinitive esse was remodeled into *essere.

*essere and sedēre forms sounded similar in Latin once the latter reduced to *seēre, and sounded even more similar after stress shifted in Spanish infinitives to the penultimate vowel. As a result, parts of the conjugations of erstwhile sedēre were subject to being integrated into conjugation paradigms associated with *essere, eventually ser.

stāre itself remained a separate verb, but stāre (later *istāre) and *essere were similar in some meanings, so that, especially in the Western Romance languages, stāre evolved into a second copula, with a meaning of "to be (temporarily or incidentally)"; *essere was then narrowed to mean "to be (permanently or essentially)".The development of two copular verbs in this manner occurred most completely in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. In other languages, most usages of English "to be" are still translated by *essere:

In Italian, the infinitive essere continues Latin esse as existential 'to be', while stare has the primary meaning "to stay" and is used as a copula only in a few situations: to express one's state of physical health (sto bene "I am well"); to form progressive aspects (sto parlando "I am speaking"); and (especially in the south of Italy) with the meaning of "to be located", although a distinction can be expressed in most varieties of Italian: è in cucina 'it's in the kitchen (where it usually is)' versus sta in cucina 'it's in the kitchen (where it isn't usually located)'.

In Old French, the verb ester < stāre still had the original Proto-Romance meaning of "to stand, stay, stop". In modern French, this verb has almost totally disappeared (see below for the one exception), although the compound rester "to remain" still exists, and some parts of the conjugation of ester have become incorporated into être "to be" < *essere. As a result of this complex evolution, even though French has a single verb for "to be" (être), its conjugation is highly irregular.Portuguese also developed an additional copular verb ficar, with the meaning "to be located" and "to become".

San Andrés–Providencia Creole

San Andrés–Providencia creole is an English-based creole language spoken in the San Andrés and Providencia Department of Colombia by the native Raizals, very similar to Belize Kriol and Miskito Coastal Creole. Its vocabulary originates in English, its lexifier, but San Andrés–Providencia creole has its own phonetics and many expressions from Spanish and African languages, particularly Kwa languages (especially Twi and Ewe) and Igbo languages. The language is also known as "San Andrés Creole", "Bende" and "Islander Creole English".

Spanish dialects and varieties

Some of the regional varieties of the Spanish language are quite divergent from one another, especially in pronunciation and vocabulary, and less so in grammar.

While all Spanish dialects adhere to approximately the same written standard, all spoken varieties differ from the written variety, to different degrees. There are differences between European Spanish (also called Peninsular Spanish) and the Spanish of the Americas, as well as many different dialect areas both within Spain and within Latin America.

Prominent differences of pronunciation among dialects of Spanish include:

the maintenance or lack of distinction between the phonemes /θ/ and /s/ (distinción vs. seseo and ceceo);

the maintenance or loss of distinction between phonemes represented orthographically by ll and y (yeísmo);

the maintenance of syllable-final [s] vs. its weakening to [h] (called aspiration, or more precisely debuccalization), or its loss; and

the tendency, in areas of central Mexico and of the Andean highlands, to reduction (especially devoicing), or loss, of unstressed vowels, mainly when they are in contact with voiceless consonants.Among grammatical features, the most prominent variation among dialects is in the use of the second-person pronouns. In Hispanic America the only second-person plural pronoun, for both formal and informal treatment, is ustedes, while in most of Spain the informal second-person plural pronoun is vosotros with ustedes used only in the formal treatment. For the second-person singular familiar pronoun, some Latin America dialects use tú (and its associated verb forms), while others use either vos (see voseo) or both tú and vos (which, together with usted, can make for a possible three-tiered distinction of formalities).

There are significant differences in vocabulary among regional varieties of Spanish, particularly in the domains of food products, everyday objects, and clothes; and many Latin American varieties show considerable lexical influence from Native American languages.

Spanish language

Spanish ( (listen); español ) or Castilian ( (listen), castellano ) is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century, and the first systematic written use of the language happened in Toledo, then capital of the Kingdom of Castile, in the 13th century. Beginning in 1492, the Spanish language was taken to the viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire, most notably to the newly-discovered Americas, as well as territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.Around 75% of modern Spanish vocabulary is derived from Latin and, through Latin,

Ancient Greek.

Spanish vocabulary has been in contact with Arabic from an early date, having developed during the Al-Andalus era in the Iberian Peninsula. With around 8% of its vocabulary being Arabic in origin, this language is the second most important influence after Latin.

It has also been influenced by Basque, Iberian, Celtiberian, Visigothic, and by neighboring Ibero-Romance languages.

Additionally, it has absorbed vocabulary from other languages, particularly the Romance languages—French, Italian, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Occitan, and Sardinian—as well as from Quechua, Nahuatl, and other indigenous languages of the Americas.Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the African Union and many other international organizations.Despite its large number of speakers, the Spanish language does not feature prominently in scientific writing, with the exception of the humanities.

Spanish personal pronouns

Spanish personal pronouns have distinct forms according to whether they stand for the subject (nominative), direct object (accusative), or indirect object (dative), and third-person pronouns make a distinction for reflexivity as well. Several pronouns also have special forms used after prepositions. Spanish is a pro-drop language with respect to subject pronouns, and, like French and other languages with T-V distinction, modern Spanish makes a distinction in second person pronouns that has no equivalent in modern English. Object pronouns are generally proclitic, but enclitic object pronouns are mandatory in certain situations. In addition, the second-person singular pronoun vos is found in numerous regions of Latin America, spanning Central America, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Perú, Ecuador and Colombia and the Andean regions of Bolivia and the Venezuelan state of Zulia.

Varieties of Spanish by continent
Asia & Oceania

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