Latin American People - Demographics - Language

Language

Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages of Latin America. Portuguese is spoken only in Brazil, the biggest and most populous country in the region. Spanish is the official language of most of the rest of the countries on the Latin American mainland, as well as in Puerto Rico (where it is co-official with English), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. French is spoken in some Caribbean islands, including Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti, as well as in the overseas departments of French Guiana (South America). Dutch is the official language of some Caribbean islands and in Suriname on the continent; however, as Dutch is a Germanic language, these territories are not considered part of Latin America.

Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and to a lesser degree, in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile. In Latin American countries not named above, the population of speakers of indigenous languages is small or non-existent.

In Peru, Quechua is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador, while holding no official status, the closely related Quichua is a recognized language of the indigenous people under the country's constitution; however, it is only spoken by a few groups in the country's highlands. In Bolivia, Aymara, Quechua and GuaranĂ­ hold official status alongside Spanish. Guarani is, along with Spanish, an official language of Paraguay, and is spoken by a majority of the population (who are, for the most part, bilingual), and it is co-official with Spanish in the Argentine province of Corrientes. In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country's Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama also hold official status. Colombia recognizes all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these. Nahuatl is one of the 62 native languages spoken by indigenous people in Mexico, which are officially recognized by the government as "national languages" along with Spanish.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include: English, by some groups in Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico, as well as in nearby countries that may or may not be considered Latin American, like Belize and Guyana (English is used as a major foreign language in Latin American commerce and education); German, in southern Brazil, southern Chile, Argentina, portions of northern Venezuela, and Paraguay; Italian, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela; and Welsh, in southern Argentina.

In several nations, especially in the Caribbean region, creole languages are spoken. The most widely spoken creole language in the Caribbean and Latin America in general is Haitian Creole, the predominant language of Haiti; it is derived primarily from French and certain West African tongues with Amerindian, English, Portuguese and Spanish influences as well. Creole languages of mainland Latin America, similarly, are derived from European languages and various African tongues.

Read more about this topic:  Latin American People, Demographics

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Famous quotes containing the word language:

    To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. There are no reliable words.... Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.
    George Orwell (1903–1950)

    Jargon: any technical language we do not understand.
    Mason Cooley (b. 1927)

    Syntax and vocabulary are overwhelming constraints—the rules that run us. Language is using us to talk—we think we’re using the language, but language is doing the thinking, we’re its slavish agents.
    Harry Mathews (b. 1930)