Spanish-based creole languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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[edit]


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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


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.[citation needed] 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[edit]

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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  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.[permanent dead link]
  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.

External links[edit]