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Should You Learn Spanish in Puerto Rico?

Learn Spanish in Puerto Rico

UPDATE: Read an opposite view to this blog post at Learn Spanish in Puerto Rico: Immersion Program ISLA

Should you Study Spanish in Puerto Rico? When asked my opinion about studying Spanish in Puerto Rico I answer truthfully. “Do not study Spanish in Puerto Rico.”

I often say this in Puerto Rico, surrounded by Puerto Ricans. Most times I barely finish the sentence when I am attacked, insulted or accused of not-too-nice things. Then I explain why. And even Puerto Ricans chuckle, smile and agree.

My reasoning is based on two simple facts:

1. Puerto Rican words are often just the English word with a local pronunciation. Many colors, car parts, and foods use English words. In my (non-Speaking Latino) business I use the phrase blue-black on a regular basis. Not once in 10 years have I heard a single Puerto Rican say negro azulado. Puerto Ricans ALWAYS say blue-black. Other examples (as mentioned in the following videos) are nice, size, shock, brown, tuna, ticket, relax, income tax and ready. Limpiaparabrisas does not exist in Puerto Rico. Only wiper is used. Tarjeta de embarque….never. Just boarding pass. This means that a student will not learn basic vocabulary while in Puerto Rico.

2. A large portion of Puerto Ricans immediately switch to English if they hear a foreigner speak Spanish. This even happens to me after studying Spanish for over 15 years, and living several years when I spoke almost 100% Spanish. I am just as comfortable now in Spanish as English. This reaction to foreigners may be an interest on the Puerto Rican’s part to practice English or to accommodate the visitor and make them feel more comfortable. Either way, the result is almost no opportunity for the student to practice Spanish outside the classroom.

And now I have video vindication. Produced by, with and to Puerto Ricans, these videos were part of a campaign designed to educate Puerto Ricans that “correct” Spanish should be used in place of the English words used daily. All the people in the videos were public figures at that time. If you are Puerto Rican or understand Puerto Rican Spanish, I promise, these videos will make you laugh. I guarantee it or your money back.


These videos show how ingrained English is into Puerto Rican Spanish. The interesting question is why is this so, and what keeps the English influence from disappearing. The clear answer to how this occurred is the United States influence in Puerto Rico since 1898. With a major military and civil presence in Puerto Rico and open immigration, the mix of languages is a daily part of Puerto Rican life.

Why this continues also may be explained by social pressure. Any Puerto Rican who attempts to speak pure Spanish in an informal conversation, eliminating all English vocabulary will face two obstacles: 1) He will not be understood by others, 2) He will be labeled stuck-up, snobbish or in local terms comemierda.

Now, enjoy a couple laughs from the videos. If you think of other words that should have appeared in the videos, leave a comment.

Check out these other articles to help you Learn Spanish.







  • http://www.polyglottony.com Ashlee D.

    I agree, learning Spanish in Puerto Rico can be frustrating at times. In my personal experience, I was lucky. I grew up in a highly Puerto Rican area, and was exposed to PR Spanish before any other variety. I also have a boyfriend of 3+ years who was born , raised, and lives in PR which has helped a lot in learning “Puerto Rican”. Therefore, I didn’t even realize words like “zafacón” weren’t used in other countries til I studied abroad in Spain when I was in college. I still get a little frustrated when I ask someone how you say something in Spanish here, and they respond with an anglicismo, or if I use the “Spanish” term for something, but not the “Puerto Rican” term, and just get blank stares.
    Switching to English is also another thing I experience at a much higher frequency here in PR compared to other Spanish-speaking countries. Even when people at first confuse me for a native speaker, when they find out I’m from the States, no matter what they think of my Spanish, they try to switch to English occasionally.

    However, I don’t blame Puerto Ricans, nor do I think their Spanish is “better” or “worse” than the Spanish of any other country. I get very defensive when my friends from Spain or other Spanish-speaking countries criticize PR Spanish. In the same light, Puerto Ricans sometimes have a very disparaging view of their own accent, putting it down and discrediting it. While PR Spanish might not be “100% standard Spanish” (whatever that is), it’s no reflection of the intelligence of the speaker or Puerto Ricans in general; accents/dialects/variations are acquired almost unconsciously as a little kid and based on one’s surroundings.

    I do agree though, that learning Spanish in PR is more difficult than in more places. In fact, I think learning Spanish anywhere in the Caribbean, Southern Spain, Canary Islands, etc. is more difficult, because of the “less-standard” pronunciation and the speed with which Spanish is spoken in those areas. Additionally, the very unique vocabulary/slang of Puerto Rico adds an extra challenge. Also, Spanish is generally not offered as a second language in PR, as in many other Spanish-speaking countries, meaning less support especially for beginners. Because of this, having a good foundation in Spanish definitely helps.

    On the other hand, every country has their unique words, expressions, pronunciation, etc. that could present some challenges for a learner. I think wherever you’re going to study Spanish (or any other language, for that matter), a good teacher will teach what is used in that area, as well as in other places or the “standard”/most-common term.

    A final note on the videos: calling the language “defectuoso” seems very harsh to me… Even in Spain, the word “ticket” (and other borrowings from English) is used at times!

    • angioletto

      I totally agree with you Ashlee! Very well-put! Even in Italy they use anglicism words like closet, hotel, cocktail, party, chance….and the list goes on. Anglicism has been adopted in many countries but when it comes to learning Spanish in a university they teach you the correct Spanish, no matter which country the university is located. While studying in Puerto Rico they taught me Castilian Spanish from Spain so it was not a waste of time nor money.

  • http://www.SpeakingLatino.com Jared

    Thank you Ashlee for sharing your thoughts and experience in Puerto Rico.

    I continue to hear some strong opposition to what I wrote in the post (led by my Puerto Rican wife and sister-in-law) so want to clarify a couple points.

    This post is not a criticism of Puerto Rican Spanish and how “good” or “bad” it is. Nor is it a criticism on anyone that wants to learn Puerto Rican Spanish for a specific reason.

    My recommendation applies to anyone that is looking to learn Spanish to use it outside of Puerto Rico. If you are interested in learning Puerto Rican Spanish then of course, Puerto Rico’s the place to do it.

    However, if you are interested in learning general Spanish or looking to learn it for application in a country other than Puerto Rico, then Do not study Spanish in Puerto Rico .

    In point #2 of the original post, I mention that many Puerto Ricans quickly switch to English upon hearing a non-native speak Spanish. Ashlee expressed this well in her comment: “Switching to English is also another thing I experience at a much higher frequency here in PR compared to other Spanish-speaking countries.” I am not making a judgement as to why this occurs or if this is good or bad. This is a simple fact of trying to practice your Spanish on the island. You will have less opportunity to speak it than in other Spanish speaking countries specifically because many people will switch to English. It’s a fact. Period. There’s no moral judgement there.

    Related to this, I believe that a major portion of language acquisition occurs outside the classroom, in simple, common, daily interactions with people. I learned the majority of my vocabulary, not in a classroom, but out talking to people. This key portion of language learning will suffer dramatically if you try to practice in Puerto Rico, compared to other countries.

    I will follow up this post with future posts on how to choose a place to study Spanish and also how to best take advantage of learning Spanish in Puerto Rico should that be your only option.

    Jared

    PS. A couple years ago I decided to read Don Quijote (before I realized the full version is over 1200 pages long) in the original Spanish. I was pleasantly surprised to find how close Puerto Rican Spanish is to the Spanish of 400 years ago. It gave me some fun insight into the history of Puerto Rican Spanish.

    • OC70

      What I found most interesting about Ashlee’s reply was the link between Puerto Rican Spanish and that of the Canary Islands and the Andalucia region. Indeed, Puerto Rican Spanish is very similar in pronunciation (read accent) and word usage and it can fool even Canary Island residents. I’ve been asked several times in Spain, by Canarians, Galicians, Catalonians, and others, if I’m from the Canary Islands. (BTW, when in Spain I just drop any local words and anglicisms and have NO problems being understood). But in general I think it is a fallacy to say that Puerto Rican Spanish suffers from loan words more so than other versions. Perhaps you are coming from an English speaker’s perspective and the anglicisms that Puerto Ricans use are more conspicuous, but I disagree in general with the premise. We could write a book about all the words of indigenous origin that are used from Mexico all the way to Tierra del Fuego, that although a part of the Spanish spoken on all the countires therein, are not general or standard spanish words that would help a learner with communication across Spanish speaking countries.

      PS. I agree with your description of Puerto Rican Spanish vis a vis El Quijote. That and the fact that our Spanish is so similar to Andalucian and Canarian Spanish makes me very proud of our version of Spanish. And when anyone dares make fun of it I remind them of those facts.
      PPS. I do tend to use proper Spanish terms, like in the PSAs you posted, and try to pronounce all “R” and “S”, which invariably causes Puerto Ricans (and other Spanish speakers) to ask me where I’m from. I am from Quebradillas, Puerto Rico.

      • http://www.SpeakingLatino.com Jared Romey

        I completely agree with you that other languages are greatly influenced by loan words (ex. Argentina with Italian), however Puerto Rican Spanish uses much more English loan words than anywhere else in the Spanish-speaking world I’ve been.

        Great feedback, thanks!

  • TravelatedRease

    Jared, this is fantastic! “Ready” was the first really ridiculous Puerto Rican use of an English word I heard when I first met my puerto rican friends.

    Other words I can’t get over:
    El Closet
    Parking
    Un tripeo
    and the worst: Janguear!

    • http://www.SpeakingLatino.com Jared

      Rease,

      The list is long and colorful. “Right true” is one of my favorites.

      • Mrtorres

        It’s hard to say, I have been living in Puerto Rico for 7 years and I was born and raised in Chicago. The Spanish I did know was very poor. I was picked on and called a gringo here but my Spanish improved, I started to use “Cartilla Fonetica” and I learned how to properly pronounce sounds in Spanish syllables.
        I highly recommend this, it has helped me this has also helped me to read better in Spanish. This is what is used to teach children to learn the sounds of the alphabet and make words in Spanish. Just Practice, over and over. It is all in the syllables this is phonetics. Yes, it is good to learn Spanish here in Puerto Rico.

    • Caramelokeith

      And were they from the us or the island

  • Perri

    I sometimes feel the same way about Argentina, where I studied Spanish (and am now living). If you’re looking for a place to learn basic, as-neutral-as-possible Spanish, you have to be very careful where you choose to go. While it’s understandable that all places will have their own distinct vocabulary and accents, some places are just so different from the “norm” that they dramatically alter the type of Spanish that you speak. I went back to the U.S. for 6 months last year to teach a Spanish IV class at my university and used so many words and strange pronunciations that the students had a hard time understanding me after learning the basic textbook vocab in their classes. I’m sure it will be a rough transition for me as well if I ever live outside of Argentina; I’ll have to completely re-learn how to use the “tu”! Just like in Puerto Rico, in Argentina you will learn terms that nobody else in the world uses and may not be better off when (or if) you travel elsewhere.

  • ABeltran1973

    Jared,

    I wholeheartedly agree! Hitrue broder. Ejemplos como apaga la luz con el “switch”, “parquea” el carro en el “parking”, vamos a “surfear”, hay “please” dejate de cuentos… Y muchos más anglosajismos prevalecen en el Spanglish Puertorriqueño. Should I say more?

  • ManoloMatos

    I agree with the first one, not with the second one. “Anglicismos” we have in every Latin American country, so If you want to avoid it, you need to go to Spain, and even there you’ll see some.

  • ManoloMatos

    I agree with the second one, not with the first one. “Anglicismos” we have in every Latin American country, so If you want to avoid it, you need to go to Spain, and even there you’ll see some. Read more: http://www.speakinglatino.com/study-spanish-in-puerto-rico/#ixzz1kow19QDU

  • rosita

    I lived for a short time in Puerto Rico and hope to return soon. I worked as an English teacher at a local private school. My issue was that since it was an English private school, I simply did not hear a lot of Spanish and everyone always spoke to me in English. I would respond in Spanish and they would normally respond in English. I thought perhaps I would have more of an opportunity to speak and grow in my Spanish had I selected a Spanish private school.

  • Saralover

    I had an amazing Spanish immersion experience in Puerto Rico. I get close to the culture and history of Puerto Rico and South America. Thanks to the GoSpanish School, I was able to visit beautiful places such as El Yunque Rainforest, Culebra Island and Fajardo Bioluminescent Bay etc. San Juan is an extremely secure place. The best part is, if you are American, you enter Puerto Rico as a domestic traveler because is a self- governing commonwealth in association with the United States, so no visas or fees are need.The programs in the school allowed me to progress at my own pace. If you are looking for an unforgettable experience, recommend GoSpanishpr in San Juan, Puerto Rico! 

    • JaredRomey

       @Saralover You make a good point here!  Puerto Rico offers some benefits over other countries, when you consider it as a language-learning destination.  The no-visa requirement and proximity to the US are a couple of those benefits.  By all means, if Puerto Rico is your only option to study Spanish, do not forego the opportunity!

  • timchandler2001

    Nothing wrong with Puerto Rican Spanish, as long as you understand its limitations and peculiarities, notably often pronouncing “r” as an “l” and “se comen las colas de las palabras” – they eat the end of their words, such that words like “cosas” sound like just “cosa”.  I lived first as a child in Ecuador, married a Colombian woman, and have lived and worked in Puerto Rico.  They speak quite similarly to Cubans and Dominicans, but of course there are differences, yet all can be roughly classified as “Caribbean”.  There are differences among every Spanish-speaking country, they all have their own words and some pronunciation and slang that can mean quite different things – for instance for Mexico, Colombia and most of the northern half of S.A., the word “bicho” means bug or vermin – but don’t use it in PR because it is slang for the male organ!
     
    So if you have the opportunity to learn Spanish ANYWHERE, take it and don’t worry about it!

  • Caramelokeith

    A lot of people are confused with new york Puerto Ricans and those from the island on the island they don’t speak with so many english words   

    • JaredRomey

       @Caramelokeith I agree with you that there is a noticeable vocabulary difference between NY Puerto Ricans (Nuyoricans) and Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico.  Even there dress and accents may sometimes be distinguished.  At the same time, I disagree that Puerto Ricans on the island do not use so many English words.  I can name just from memory more than 100 hundred words that island Puerto Ricans use an English word, instead of their equivalent Spanish word(s) used in other Spanish-speaking countries (boarding pass, hamburger, queen-sized bed, brown, tape, spray, printer, realtor, record, roommate, mattress, etc).  I estimate that several hundred words could be found that are English words used only in Puerto RIco, but have Spanish equivalents in most or all other countries

      • Caramelokeith

        It also depends on your social class i would have to say because I haven’t heard my great grandpartents use many english words I put it this way some people speak proper spanish usally upper class people and some middle class speak proper but if you go to a area were they dont have much they tends to be more slang but that doesnt mean every one there speaks inproper  

        • JaredRomey

           @Caramelokeith I haven’t thought about social class differences much, I’ll think about it more.
           
          Everything in my previous response to you referred to Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico.  I observed this over the 10 years I lived there.  Numerous times I would use a Spanish word, not be understood and once we figured out the meaning, the “correct” Puerto Rican word would be the English word, with a local pronunciation.  “Hamburger” is a classic example.

      • rosita

         @JaredRomey  @Caramelokeith 
        I think there is a great benefit to studying, learning  and practicing Spanish on the island of Puerto Rico, especially now since flights to and from the island are very affordable. The Spanish spoken on the island is so fast that once you get an “ear” for the language and truly can understand it, you would have quite an advantage to understanding other dialects in Latin America. 
         
        I do have one particular question regarding safety. I plan to move back to Puerto Rico after an extended trip for 4 months. My family and I would be moving there permanently for at least 2 years or more.
         
        Jared, since you have lived on the island for 10-years, do you find it fairly safe?  We are thinking of the following areas to move to Caparra, Guaynabo, Bayamon.  However, my main goal is to improve on my Spanish and to have my little ones improve as well. Is it better to move away from the tourist areas like Condado and Viejo San Juan?  We are all so excited to move back. Our first extended visit was great. We lived in Condado and despite it being a busy city, we loved PR as a whole. We haven’t explored many other areas though outside of the tourist area. I’d love and appreciate your insight
        I think there is a great benefit to studying, learning  and practicing Spanish on the island of Puerto Rico, especially now since flights to and from the island are very affordable. The Spanish spoken on the island is so fast that once you get an “ear” for the language and truly can understand it, you would have quite an advantage to understanding other dialects in Latin America. 
         
        I do have one particular question regarding safety. I plan to move back to Puerto Rico after an extended trip for 4 months. My family and I would be moving there permanently for at least 2 years or more.
         
        Jared, since you have lived on the island for 10-years, do you find it fairly safe?  We are thinking of the following areas to move to Caparra, Guaynabo, Bayamon.  However, my main goal is to improve on my Spanish and to have my little ones improve as well. Is it better to move away from the tourist areas like Condado and Viejo San Juan?  We are all so excited to move back. Our first extended visit was great. We lived in Condado and despite it being a busy city, we loved PR as a whole. We haven’t explored many other areas though outside of the tourist area. I’d love and appreciate your insight. Thank you so much.
        Read more: http://www.speakinglatino.com/study-spanish-in-puerto-rico/#ixzz1unAvgBNf
        Read more: http://www.speakinglatino.com/study-spanish-in-puerto-rico/#ixzz1unAvgBNf
         

  • rosita

    I think there is a great benefit to studying, learning  and practicing Spanish on the island of Puerto Rico, especially now since flights to and from the island are very affordable. The Spanish spoken on the island is so fast that once you get an “ear” for the language and truly can understand it, you would have quite an advantage to understanding other dialects in Latin America. 
     
    I do have one particular question regarding safety. I plan to move back to Puerto Rico after an extended trip for 4 months. My family and I would be moving there permanently for at least 2 years or more.
     
    Jared, since you have lived on the island for 10-years, do you find it fairly safe?  We are thinking of the following areas to move to Caparra, Guaynabo, Bayamon.  However, my main goal is to improve on my Spanish and to have my little ones improve as well. Is it better to move away from the tourist areas like Condado and Viejo San Juan?  We are all so excited to move back. Our first extended visit was great. We lived in Condado and despite it being a busy city, we loved PR as a whole. We haven’t explored many other areas though outside of the tourist area. I’d love and appreciate your insight
    .  
    Thank you so much.

    • JaredRomey

       @rosita Before I answer your questions let me start out saying (not directed at you, but for others out there), the following comments ARE ONLY MY(emphasis on MY) OPINION.
       
      Is the Island safe?  That’s a tough question.  If you look at crime statistics for PR, things are getting worse, and they were already bad. My guess is that as the economy continues to fall it will become even worse.   PR is the only place I’ve ever had my home broken into (while I was inside no less) and robbed.  Condado, which you know as a nice, urban, lots-of-tourists place, now has crime occur regularly during the day.  I’ve had two friends attacked in daylight in Condado within the last 18 months or so.  In my first 9 years in PR I’d never heard of a single attack.
       
      Having said that, I’ve never felt in danger particularly, although yes, uncomfortable occasionally in certain situations or places.  But really no more than other cities I’ve been in.
       
      About where to live, my general opinion is that living in those places will not increase by much your exposure to Spanish.  For your kids, they may be around a few more kids that speak only Spanish in those areas, but once they head to school (I’m assuming you’re not sending them to a public school) everyone will be speaking Spanish with some English, independent of the private school they’re in.  Of the three perhaps Bayamon would give you a bit more exposure in Spanish, but I may be wrong with that.
       
      Because of that I would choose the place to live, from those three, based on other factors, such as proximity to your office, proximity to schools for your kids, the rush-hour traffic mess to and from work, cost of housing, etc.
       
      I think that your immersion into Spanish will require some work on your part to avoid expats and Americans.  Also, you should look for social activities where the majority of the people are locals.  This will increase your chances of practicing more Spanish, although, as I mentioned in this post, you will still find many people that just speak to you in English immediately.  And this will occur all over the island.
       
      The key is for you to force the Spanish issue.  If someone speaks to you in English, just continue in Spanish.  You can also mention to the person that you’re there specifically to learn Spanish and so you’d appreciate the practice.
       
      Hope these comments help!
       
      Jared

      • angioletto

        Let’s see…. I have taveled to Puerto rico every year & never had a problem. I’ve lived in NYC all my life & have found many problems. South Bronx, Bed Sty, Washington Heights, Far Rockaway, just to mention a few crime-ridden neighborhoods. Chicago? Uff! East LA? Damn! Mexico & Jamaica are worse than Puerto Rico when it comes to crime. The statistics are out there. I am not disagreeing with Jared, but there is crime everywhere. You just have to know which neighborhood to live in. I think that when we talk about a particular countrie’s problems we should do a comparison check against the other countries surrounding the country in question. Fair is fair.

        • JaredRomey

           @angioletto I definitely agree with you.  Each area has its own bad areas, you just need to know where they are.  Unfortunately for PR though, I think things are getting worse than they were even just a couple years ago.  My guess is that it’s mostly to do with the economy.  And quite frankly the police force (for numerous reasons) is inadequate in PR.

  • Pingback: Why Not to Study Spanish in Puerto Rico | Speaking Latino | Spanish in the United States | Scoop.it

  • ManoloMatos

    I agree with the first one, not with the second one. “Anglicismos” we have in every Latin American country, so If you want to avoid it, you need to go to Spain, and even there you’ll see some.

  • ManoloMatos

    I agree with the second one, not with the first one. “Anglicismos” we have in every Latin American country, so If you want to avoid it, you need to go to Spain, and even there you’ll see some. Read more: http://www.speakinglatino.com/study-spanish-in-puerto-rico/#ixzz1kow19QDU

  • angioletto

    I totally agree with you Ashlee! Very well-put! Even in Italy they use anglicism words like closet, hotel, cocktail, party, chance….and the list goes on. Anglicism has been adopted in many countries but when it comes to learning Spanish in a university they teach you the correct Spanish, no matter which country the university is located. While studying in Puerto Rico they taught me Castilian Spanish from Spain so it was not a waste of time nor money.

  • rosita

    I lived for a short time in Puerto Rico and hope to return soon. I worked as an English teacher at a local private school. My issue was that since it was an English private school, I simply did not hear a lot of Spanish and everyone always spoke to me in English. I would respond in Spanish and they would normally respond in English. I thought perhaps I would have more of an opportunity to speak and grow in my Spanish had I selected a Spanish private school.

  • Saralover

    I had an amazing Spanish immersion experience in Puerto Rico. I get close to the culture and history of Puerto Rico and South America. Thanks to the GoSpanish School, I was able to visit beautiful places such as El Yunque Rainforest, Culebra Island and Fajardo Bioluminescent Bay etc. San Juan is an extremely secure place. The best part is, if you are American, you enter Puerto Rico as a domestic traveler because is a self- governing commonwealth in association with the United States, so no visas or fees are need.The programs in the school allowed me to progress at my own pace. If you are looking for an unforgettable experience, recommend GoSpanishpr in San Juan, Puerto Rico! 

    • JaredRomey

       @Saralover You make a good point here!  Puerto Rico offers some benefits over other countries, when you consider it as a language-learning destination.  The no-visa requirement and proximity to the US are a couple of those benefits.  By all means, if Puerto Rico is your only option to study Spanish, do not forego the opportunity!

  • timchandler2001

    Nothing wrong with Puerto Rican Spanish, as long as you understand its limitations and peculiarities, notably often pronouncing “r” as an “l” and “se comen las colas de las palabras” – they eat the end of their words, such that words like “cosas” sound like just “cosa”.  I lived first as a child in Ecuador, married a Colombian woman, and have lived and worked in Puerto Rico.  They speak quite similarly to Cubans and Dominicans, but of course there are differences, yet all can be roughly classified as “Caribbean”.  There are differences among every Spanish-speaking country, they all have their own words and some pronunciation and slang that can mean quite different things – for instance for Mexico, Colombia and most of the northern half of S.A., the word “bicho” means bug or vermin – but don’t use it in PR because it is slang for the male organ!
     
    So if you have the opportunity to learn Spanish ANYWHERE, take it and don’t worry about it!

  • Caramelokeith

    A lot of people are confused with new york Puerto Ricans and those from the island on the island they don’t speak with so many english words   

    • JaredRomey

       @Caramelokeith I agree with you that there is a noticeable vocabulary difference between NY Puerto Ricans (Nuyoricans) and Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico.  Even there dress and accents may sometimes be distinguished.  At the same time, I disagree that Puerto Ricans on the island do not use so many English words.  I can name just from memory more than 100 hundred words that island Puerto Ricans use an English word, instead of their equivalent Spanish word(s) used in other Spanish-speaking countries (boarding pass, hamburger, queen-sized bed, brown, tape, spray, printer, realtor, record, roommate, mattress, etc).  I estimate that several hundred words could be found that are English words used only in Puerto RIco, but have Spanish equivalents in most or all other countries

      • rosita

         @JaredRomey  @Caramelokeith 
        I think there is a great benefit to studying, learning  and practicing Spanish on the island of Puerto Rico, especially now since flights to and from the island are very affordable. The Spanish spoken on the island is so fast that once you get an “ear” for the language and truly can understand it, you would have quite an advantage to understanding other dialects in Latin America. 
         
        I do have one particular question regarding safety. I plan to move back to Puerto Rico after an extended trip for 4 months. My family and I would be moving there permanently for at least 2 years or more.
         
        Jared, since you have lived on the island for 10-years, do you find it fairly safe?  We are thinking of the following areas to move to Caparra, Guaynabo, Bayamon.  However, my main goal is to improve on my Spanish and to have my little ones improve as well. Is it better to move away from the tourist areas like Condado and Viejo San Juan?  We are all so excited to move back. Our first extended visit was great. We lived in Condado and despite it being a busy city, we loved PR as a whole. We haven’t explored many other areas though outside of the tourist area. I’d love and appreciate your insight
        I think there is a great benefit to studying, learning  and practicing Spanish on the island of Puerto Rico, especially now since flights to and from the island are very affordable. The Spanish spoken on the island is so fast that once you get an “ear” for the language and truly can understand it, you would have quite an advantage to understanding other dialects in Latin America. 
         
        I do have one particular question regarding safety. I plan to move back to Puerto Rico after an extended trip for 4 months. My family and I would be moving there permanently for at least 2 years or more.
         
        Jared, since you have lived on the island for 10-years, do you find it fairly safe?  We are thinking of the following areas to move to Caparra, Guaynabo, Bayamon.  However, my main goal is to improve on my Spanish and to have my little ones improve as well. Is it better to move away from the tourist areas like Condado and Viejo San Juan?  We are all so excited to move back. Our first extended visit was great. We lived in Condado and despite it being a busy city, we loved PR as a whole. We haven’t explored many other areas though outside of the tourist area. I’d love and appreciate your insight. Thank you so much.
        Read more: http://www.speakinglatino.com/study-spanish-in-puerto-rico/#ixzz1unAvgBNf
        Read more: http://www.speakinglatino.com/study-spanish-in-puerto-rico/#ixzz1unAvgBNf
         

      • Caramelokeith

        It also depends on your social class i would have to say because I haven’t heard my great grandpartents use many english words I put it this way some people speak proper spanish usally upper class people and some middle class speak proper but if you go to a area were they dont have much they tends to be more slang but that doesnt mean every one there speaks inproper  

        • JaredRomey

           @Caramelokeith I haven’t thought about social class differences much, I’ll think about it more.
           
          Everything in my previous response to you referred to Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico.  I observed this over the 10 years I lived there.  Numerous times I would use a Spanish word, not be understood and once we figured out the meaning, the “correct” Puerto Rican word would be the English word, with a local pronunciation.  “Hamburger” is a classic example.

  • Caramelokeith

    And were they from the us or the island

  • rosita

    I think there is a great benefit to studying, learning  and practicing Spanish on the island of Puerto Rico, especially now since flights to and from the island are very affordable. The Spanish spoken on the island is so fast that once you get an “ear” for the language and truly can understand it, you would have quite an advantage to understanding other dialects in Latin America. 
     
    I do have one particular question regarding safety. I plan to move back to Puerto Rico after an extended trip for 4 months. My family and I would be moving there permanently for at least 2 years or more.
     
    Jared, since you have lived on the island for 10-years, do you find it fairly safe?  We are thinking of the following areas to move to Caparra, Guaynabo, Bayamon.  However, my main goal is to improve on my Spanish and to have my little ones improve as well. Is it better to move away from the tourist areas like Condado and Viejo San Juan?  We are all so excited to move back. Our first extended visit was great. We lived in Condado and despite it being a busy city, we loved PR as a whole. We haven’t explored many other areas though outside of the tourist area. I’d love and appreciate your insight
    .  
    Thank you so much.

    • JaredRomey

       @rosita Before I answer your questions let me start out saying (not directed at you, but for others out there), the following comments ARE ONLY MY(emphasis on MY) OPINION.
       
      Is the Island safe?  That’s a tough question.  If you look at crime statistics for PR, things are getting worse, and they were already bad. My guess is that as the economy continues to fall it will become even worse.   PR is the only place I’ve ever had my home broken into (while I was inside no less) and robbed.  Condado, which you know as a nice, urban, lots-of-tourists place, now has crime occur regularly during the day.  I’ve had two friends attacked in daylight in Condado within the last 18 months or so.  In my first 9 years in PR I’d never heard of a single attack.
       
      Having said that, I’ve never felt in danger particularly, although yes, uncomfortable occasionally in certain situations or places.  But really no more than other cities I’ve been in.
       
      About where to live, my general opinion is that living in those places will not increase by much your exposure to Spanish.  For your kids, they may be around a few more kids that speak only Spanish in those areas, but once they head to school (I’m assuming you’re not sending them to a public school) everyone will be speaking Spanish with some English, independent of the private school they’re in.  Of the three perhaps Bayamon would give you a bit more exposure in Spanish, but I may be wrong with that.
       
      Because of that I would choose the place to live, from those three, based on other factors, such as proximity to your office, proximity to schools for your kids, the rush-hour traffic mess to and from work, cost of housing, etc.
       
      I think that your immersion into Spanish will require some work on your part to avoid expats and Americans.  Also, you should look for social activities where the majority of the people are locals.  This will increase your chances of practicing more Spanish, although, as I mentioned in this post, you will still find many people that just speak to you in English immediately.  And this will occur all over the island.
       
      The key is for you to force the Spanish issue.  If someone speaks to you in English, just continue in Spanish.  You can also mention to the person that you’re there specifically to learn Spanish and so you’d appreciate the practice.
       
      Hope these comments help!
       
      Jared

      • angioletto

        Let’s see…. I have taveled to Puerto rico every year & never had a problem. I’ve lived in NYC all my life & have found many problems. South Bronx, Bed Sty, Washington Heights, Far Rockaway, just to mention a few crime-ridden neighborhoods. Chicago? Uff! East LA? Damn! Mexico & Jamaica are worse than Puerto Rico when it comes to crime. The statistics are out there. I am not disagreeing with Jared, but there is crime everywhere. You just have to know which neighborhood to live in. I think that when we talk about a particular countrie’s problems we should do a comparison check against the other countries surrounding the country in question. Fair is fair.

        • JaredRomey

           @angioletto I definitely agree with you.  Each area has its own bad areas, you just need to know where they are.  Unfortunately for PR though, I think things are getting worse than they were even just a couple years ago.  My guess is that it’s mostly to do with the economy.  And quite frankly the police force (for numerous reasons) is inadequate in PR.

  • DianaCaballero

    Look what I read today @jaredromeyI thin this quote can answer the question presented in the title of this post:”Es un mito falso. No hay ningún lugar del mundo que se hable mejor castellano que en otro. Se habla de acuerdo con la variedad local. No sé de dónde sale eso.” -Inés Fernández-Ordóñez, Académica de RAEHere is the link to the complete interview: http://www.larazon.es/noticia/6151-ines-fernandez-ordonez-vivimos-la-gran-epoca-de-los-eufemismos

    • JaredRomey

       @DianaCaballero  I think you missed the point of the article.  I am not saying Puerto Rican Spanish is better or worse than any other.  I am stating that if you learn Spanish in Puerto Rico: 1) your vocabulary knowledge gained in PR will not be as useful in other countries and 2) you will not have as many opportunities to practice your Spanish in PR as you would in other countries.
       
      So, for these two reasons and GIVEN THE CHOICE it is better to study Spanish almost anywhere else.
       
      Jared

      • DianaCaballero

         @JaredRomey  I think I can use my Spanish (Puerto Rican and neutral, just to put it a name) in other Spanish-speaking countries

      • DianaCaballero

         @JaredRomey And believe me, I know the content of this article by heart. And almost a year later, I still don’t agree :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/MagEakaWebutante Margaret Nahmias

    He is not saying one is the better than the other, but he saying one form is better for learning. For me personally, I want to learn as much standard Spanish as possible before I deviate from that. Think back to when you learned English. Did you learn the non standard form first. No of course not. Regionalisms are not useful outside the place there are used. Naturally if you live in one place you are only going to be aware of one form of the language. For example I am an American I hardly know anything about British English.

  • tyler menendez

    can you put more puerto rican slang or just dedicate a site only for puerto rican spanish slang please?

  • Maravilloso

    Let’s be sincere: we don’t speak Spanish; we speak Puerto Rican.

    • JaredRomey

      Now that I can agree with!

    • Understanding 18

      You have summed it up correctly! lol!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cristobal.carballeira Cristóbal Felipe Leonard Carba

    Eso de que gran parte de los puertorriqueños te contestan en inglés es mentira que la inmensa mayoría del pueblo se expresa en español y punto

  • http://www.facebook.com/cristobal.carballeira Cristóbal Felipe Leonard Carba

    Eso de que gran parte de los puertorriqueños te contesta en inglés es mentira que la inmensa mayoría del pueblo se expresa en español y punto

    • JaredRomey

      Gracias por tu comentario Cristóbal. Mi experiencia durante mas de 10 años en Puerto Rico ha sido el opuesto. Muchas personas al escuchar un extranjero hablar español cambian inmediatamente al ingles. Es tan común que he tenido gente hablándome (realmente tratando de hablarme) en inglés cuando claramente no pueden. En mis conversaciones con otros extranjeros la gran mayoría (para no decir todos) han encontrado lo mismo.

      Estoy de acuerdo, como dices, que la gran mayoría del pueblo se expresa en español. Simplemente no lo hacen con extranjeros que no son nativos del castellano.

  • http://www.alwaysspanish.com/ Amit Schandillia

    Any comments on Guatemalan Spanish? Many say, it is the least authentic Spanish due to an overbearing influence of Taino and African tongues. How does it compare with Puerto Rico as far as learning “good” Spanish is concerned?

    • JaredRomey

      Amit,

      We haven’t had much experience with Guatemalan Spanish so can’t really make a comparison. What I can say is that I know it is a popular destination for people to study Spanish. Also, given my experience in other Central American countries (Panama, Costa Rica) as well as Mexico I would say there is much less English influence in the daily Spanish, than is true for Puerto Rico.

      About any one country being the least “authentic” Spanish, my opinion is that each country is authentic Spanish, in a different ways. For example, in Puerto Rico, the vocabulary is often authentic in that it is the same vocabulary used in Spain hundreds of years ago. However, it is not authentic in the major influence English has on other daily vocabulary.

      Here’s the little bit we’ve collected on Guatemalan Spanish: http://www.speakinglatino.com/learn-guatemala-spanish-slang/ .

      Jared

    • David Auerbach

      The influence in Guatemala is hardly from Taíno. Maya Quiché (K’ich’é) is the most prominent of approximately 20 indigenous languages still spoken. There are probably thousands of indigenous groups in Latin America. And the African influence in Guatemala is minimal, although Garifuna is spoken in a very limited area. Good is also an unfortunate qualifier here since it’s highly judgmental (as is “idioma defectuoso”).

  • Tomàs Vidal

    Me ha sorprendido que consideres Puerto Rico el peor sitio para aprender
    el idioma español. Lo primero que he de mencionar es que cuando leemos
    una traducción de algún texto hecha por un puertorriqueño se entiende
    en todo país hispanohablante incluida España, mientras que las peores
    traducciones siempre nos llegan de México, con sus regionalismos y la
    peor sintaxis. Otro ejemplo fue el doblaje de series y películas,
    en España se conservan los dibujos de “Los autos locos” sin necesidad de
    volver a doblar la serie de dibujos mientras que el doblaje mexicano da
    pena y risa. ¿Sabes que probablemente Puerto Rico conserva más vocablos de España que cualquier otro país hispanoamericano? ¿Sabes que el “acento” puertorriqueño es la fusión del dejo andaluz y canario? ¿Sabes que a su vez fue enriquecido por el bable asturiano y el catalán? Un ejemplo del bable es cuando ellos dicen: “esto se ha pasáu” por “esto se ha pasado”, y el típico ejemplo del idioma catalán es “pernil” para designar la pata del cerdo o jamón. Y no olvidemos la influencia corsa y francesa que la vemos en la forma de pronunicar la letra ere y que en lugar de decir guisantes dicen “petipuá” del francés “petit pois”. Creo que todo los países del mundo utilizan anglicismos, probablemente más que los puertorriqueños. Siempre opinaré que el español andaluz es el más rico de la Península Ibérica como el español de Puerto Rico el más rico de Las Américas.

    Saludos.

    • http://www.speakinglatino.com/ Jared

      Tomàs,

      Tus comentarios sobre la conección que tiene el español puertorriqueño con las Canarias, Andalucía y España son completamente ciertos. De hecho, yo hice el mismo comentario abajo en una respuesta que escribí a Always Spanish a su comentario.

      Pero si lees bien mi articulo, los dos puntos principales que menciono sobre mi posición no tienen que ver con el vocabulario de español que se usa en Puerto Rico.

      Tampoco tiene que ver con traducciones formales que se hace.

      Tienen que ver con la experiencia que gente aprendiendo el idioma tiene en Puerto Rico. No solamente he hablado esto con mi hermano, quien vi aprender español en Puerto Rico, sino también con muchas otras personas en mis años allí.

      No estoy de acuerdo que los anglicismos en Puerto Rico existen en una cantidad parecida a otros países. He estado en 12 países donde se habla español, y sin duda (y lejos de los otros lugares) Puerto Rico usa muchísimo más anglicismos.

      Te agradezco tu comentario, es muy detallado y aporta mucho al debate,

      Jared

    • Carlos Quintero

      No crees que estas exagerando? Con palabras regionales de puerto rico como “guagua” en ves de autobus o dichos como “vamos a chopear” me parece muy erroneo. He visto traducciónes de Puerto Rico que no tienen sentido a los otros paises de Centro o SudAmericanos. Creame en lo cierto que vivo en una area hispano-hablante muy amplea y el dialecto de tu isla no es el mejor reconocido. He hablado con gente de Puerto Rico muy educada que hablan y escirben bien pero comparado como Colombia o el Peru no es algo que fuera de lo normal.

  • Stephanie

    I’m sorry but you do know that the Spanish from Puerto Rico is a mix of the different languages that where spoken when Puerto Rico was under the Spanish regimen like for example: Spains spanish, “Taínos”, African and now the American english so their spanish is not like the rest plus they do understand when you speak to them in the universal spanish and they do speak it, it’s just that they choose to not speak it unless they are in a place where they need to speak formally

    • http://www.speakinglatino.com/ Jared

      I agree with everything you say here Stephanie, and I think what you say supports my point. If someone wants to learn and practice Spanish in Puerto Rico, it can be difficult for the exact reasons you mention.

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