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Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Lee Jamison has worked in a voluntary educational work Nicaraguan Spanish: Speak like a native! by [Jamison, Lee].
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A number of words widely used in Nicaragua which have Nahuatl , Mayan or other native origins, in particular names for flora, fauna and toponyms. Some of these words are used in most, or all, Spanish-speaking countries, like chocolate and aguacate "avocado" , and some are only used in Mexico and Nicaragua. For a more complete list see List of Spanish words of Nahuatl origin. Certain words that are present in Nicaraguan Spanish may not be immediately recognizable to non-Nicaraguans:.

A Canal Where a Language Used to Be

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Language family. Writing system. Spanish language around the 13th century. Nicaragua portal Language portal. Library of Congress.

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Retrieved 21 September Lipski, Latin American Spanish Longman, , pp. Lipski, Latin American Spanish Longman, , p. Contras Sandinista period —90 Post-Sandinista period —. Outline Index Bibliography. Varieties of Spanish by continent. Canarian Equatoguinean Saharan.

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Cuban Dominican Puerto Rican. Languages of Nicaragua. Garifuna Miskito Rama Sumo.

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Miskito Coast Rama Cay. Nicaraguan Sign Language. Categories : Central American Spanish. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The bible, hymn books, prayer books, and other religious literature are all available in Miskitu, and a significant population is literate in the language. Miskitu also boasts two very good dictionaries, dating back to the early part of this century, and a reference grammar of quite good quality.

Given this, and the relative size and age mixture of the Miskitu community, the language is in an ideal situation to achieve its status as part of the intellectual and cultural wealth of the Atlantic Coast. Most people recognize the importance of Miskitu, and many non-Miskitu Nicaraguans, and foreigners as well, are taking courses in the language in Puerto Cabezas. As a language with a written tradition, Miskitu was in a position to participate immediately in the autonomy process.

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A corps of translators was formed in the early s to produce Miskitu versions of materials concerning autonomy, the Nicaraguan Constitution, and a variety of historical and cultural materials. CIDCA, an organization that conducts a wide range of research projects on the Atlantic Coast and serves as a Nicaraguan host to members of Linguists for Nicaragua, has also produced a small school dictionary of Miskitu. From the outset, bilingual-bicultural education has been an integral component in the autonomy process. At CIDCA the Miskitu leader Hazel Lau worked on formulating a program that produced a first reader and exercise book in its first years, and a second later on.

Official Guide to Nicaraguan Spanish (e-book version)

In addition, a book of tales has been printed, and another is on the way. Theoretical linguistic work on Miskitu has also been undertaken during the past several years, resulting in a dissertation on aspects of its grammar and several theoretical papers. An extensive study of the Miskitu lexicon, requiring the training of Miskitu-speaking lexicographers, has helped to lay the personnel foundation necessary to a truly autonomous linguistic scholarship in the Miskitu community.

The Sumu, who number about 9,, have always been dominated by the Miskitu both linguistically and politically. Most Sumu speak Miskitu in addition to Sumu, and literacy for Sumu people has, until recently, been primarily in Miskitu. The Sumu are now associated with three linguistic subdivisions: the Twahka, the Panamahka, and the Ulwa.

The first two, spoken by Northern Sumu, are clearly dialects of a single language; the Ulwa, or Southern Sumu, should probably be classed as a separate but closely related language. The Northern Sumu far outnumber the Ulwa. Until recently, Sumu was known only from word lists and sparse grammatical notes, though a reasonably good dictionary of Northern Sumu was produced in the mids. With autonomy, the linguistic fortunes of the Northern Sumu have brightened considerably, not only through official recognition but through concrete programs and research as well.

The Sumu language was part of the literacy campaign and was used to articulate Sumu concerns in developing the autonomy law. This, together with the development of a Sumu Spanish bilingual education program, has revived interest in Sumu among members of the community who were on the point of abandoning their language in favor of Miskitu.

Though Sumus continue to speak Miskitu, Sumu now flourishes as a language of daily use. Sumu is also entering spheres formerly dominated by Miskitu or Spanish.

Some Sumu pastors now use Sumu in church, and a Sumu translation of the bible is being completed. Other important documents affecting the lives of Sumu communities also exist in Sumu, too, such as the constitution and the autonomy law. The Ministry of Education is producing school texts for the bilingual-bicultural education program, which started in , and radio programs in Northern Sumu as well as in Miskitu air daily.

All of these developments have required the training of professional Sumu translators, a process that provides a secure foundation for the continued progress in achieving autonomy for the language. Linguistic investigations into Northern Sumu have produced a grammar of the language, to be published in the near future, and several technical papers on aspects of the grammar that are of special interest to linguists. The grammar itself was written for both professional and lay readers, and it includes not only information on the Northern Sumu language but also information on the very business of describing the grammar of a language.

It is, in effect, a textbook on how to discover and understand the grammatical structure of a language very different from Spanish or English. It was written this way in order to be generally accessible to the public, thereby contributing to an important goal of revolutionary Nicaragua, that of informing its citizenry about the cultural wealth of the Atlantic Coast.

The native language of most Rama people today is English rather than Rama.


Of the members of the Rama community, fewer than 50 speak Rama as their first language. Most native speakers live on the mainland, rather than Rama Cay, where the majority of Ramas have lived since the beginning of the eighteenth century. The small size of the native-speaking population, together with the geographic separation of the English speakers and the Rama speakers, resulted in a state of affairs that did not bode well for the program of language development for Rama. One of the main problems was the general attitude among the English-speaking Ramas that the Rama language was of little worth - nothing more that "the growls of tigers," as some said - and was not a "real" language.

In spite of these conditions, a Rama language project began in and secured a place within the autonomy process. The project deserves to be considered one of the greatest achievements of autonomy. With extraordinary foresight, members of the Rama team insisted at the outset on producing materials that would demonstrate that Rama was a "true" language - that is, one that could be written.

Although in the initial stages it was not practical to produce a book written entirely in the language, it was possible to produce and distribute a calendar with Rama words and with pictures drawn by members of the Rama community. In addition, the Bluefields newspaper published a Rama text, making the written form of Rama available to all in the local area.

Language Challenge: Spanish vs Filipino

The calendar was followed by an elementary dictionary also illustrated by Rama artists. These materials proved conclusively, to the people who mattered the most, that Rama could be written, read, and understood by Rama speakers. The calendar and dictionary were produced with the maximum participation of the Rama community.

As a result, the project has helped to dispel negative attitudes toward the language, creating an atmosphere in which a viable Rama language program can grow. The nature of this program will be vastly different from what is possible with Miskitu and Northern Sumu. The Rama project falls under the category of "language rescue": documenting what is still known by the surviving native speakers and disseminating this information, in appropriate ways, to Rama people. The calendar and dictionary are part of this educational process, and the Rama language team has also prepared a basic Rama course to be taught in the elementary school on Rama Cay.

Research on Rama has also produced material for a more general audience. In a Rama grammar was written, and a number of technical papers have appeared on particular topics in Rama grammar. A full dictionary is currently being compiled, using as a basis the Rama lexical material collected in the early s by the German linguist Walter Lehmann. The youngest of the language projects on the Atlantic Coast involves the Ulwa, or Southern Sumu, language.