Spanish is spoken in Costa Rica almost since 1502 when Spanish Conquers arrived.
Before that year; a variety of Indigenous languages were spoken in different regions.
Spanish is a language that has been considered not so relevant because is spoken mostly in developing countries, so it was considered of low importance.
Nevertheless; the Spanish speaking population has grown not only in the USA but all over the world.
If you speak Spanish you´ll open to all the political, social and cultural scene in Latin America.
More and more English speakers are looking forward to learning Spanish because they´ve discovered that many people around them are already speaking it, and it´s becoming a business language as well.
First Languages spoken in Costa Rica
Costa Rican natives are an important part of our national treasure. They spoke and still speak a variety of languages, coming from the Chibcha family.
- Maléku, it´s spoken by 800 people nowadays from the northeastern of Alajuela.
- Cabécar, it´s from the Cordillera de Talamanca.
- Guaymí, from the south of the country.
- Buglere has spoken nearby the border with Panama.
- Bribri, from some parts of Limón.
These languages are very special, not everyone can speak them. Some of them such as Bribrí are taught in public schools from the region, but just in a few of them.
Even when Spanish is the official language, and it´s included in the National Constitution, it´s also stated that the government must take care of the original languages from the country, so indigenous languages are considered an important part of the Nation´s core and soul.
We need to protect them, some of these languages have died out and others are in danger. And they are an important part of our ancestors’ heritage.
Characteristics of Spanish in Costa Rica
Spanish spoken in Costa Rica might be considered by experts as mild and neutral. Even though; it is full of beautiful contrasts, idioms, phonics, and lexicon are special and funny.
Some characteristics are:
- Nasal sounds ( n, m, ᵑ ) are sometimes overused. We use to add them to the end most of the time. A common example is found in the National Anthem; many people say: “ dulce abrigo y sustento nos dan” and the correct expression is; “ dulce abrigo y sustento nos da”
- The famous “erre tica”, it’s pronounced with real love and feeling it´s not so strong and you don´t roll it, but you slide on it, sounds similar to /zhh/.
- In the Spanish spoken in Costa Rica, you find a lot of idioms and typical phrases. Some of them are “mae” which might be equal to “dude” in English, referring to a young or middle age guy. Some other people think it´s rude because it also means “fool” when Costa Ricans say “No seas mae” or “No caiga de mae” it means don’t be imprudent or stupid. But, Costa Rican uses it without paying attention to that.
- “Pura Vida” has a lot of meanings: hi, bye, how are you?!, thank you, ok, etc… But the most important meaning and element we find here is that it means: “everything is cool and full of good vibes”.
Other Languages Spoken in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has hosted a large number of immigrants over the years from many different countries.
They decided to live here since Costa Rica is a simple country with no army but full of beautiful landscapes to relax and have fun and, off course full of “Pura Vida” people.
The immigrants contributed to wide the foreign languages of Costa Rica.
Mekatelyu or Patua, an English-based Creole language is spoken by the Afro-Caribbean immigrants who have settled in the Limón Province along the Atlantic coast of the country.
The Quakers is a community in Monteverde, they speak an older dialect of English.
Finally; the deaf community uses the Costa Rican Sign Language or LESCO.
Come to Costa Rica and learn Spanish
As you already know Spanish is not only a Latin American language, it´s a very important one that can open a lot of doors.
The Spanish spoken in Costa Rica is very neutral and one of the closest to be standard, so if you learn here you learn Spanish to speak it anywhere around the world.
So, come here and learn. The best place to learn it is at Perfect Sunset School in Playa Hermosa, Santa Teresa Puntarenas.
Here you´ll find nice instructors and live the experience of real language immersion.
See you then…!