The Segmental Info System

Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean's Languages

The language of the Mexican Caribbean contains Spanish dialects

Photo credit: © Lunamarina |
Languages in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Spanish is the official language of the Mexican Caribbean, but native languages are spoken by approximately one-fifth of the population.

Although English is not commonly heard throughout Mexico, it is usually spoken and understood in tourist areas. Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world today, with a population of approximately 104 million Spanish speakers.

The Spanish language finds its historical origins in the Roman Empire and was developed from vulgar Latin, the spoken counterpart to the written Latin made famous by Roman writers like Cicero. Spanish also was influenced by Basque and Arabic languages.

During the Spanish Reconquista from 900 to 1250 C.E., the language was carried as far south as Morocco. The language was introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers who came seeking gold and owes its prevalence in Latin America to the work of Spanish missionaries, who taught Spanish in order to spread Christianity.

Part of the romance of Mexican culture is the moving inflection of Spanish. In Mexican music, drama, and poetry, the inflection of Spanish is emphatic and expressive. Even seemingly simple things, like normal day-to-day dialogue or street names bear a romance to them, almost exclusively because of the inflection of Spanish.

Today, Mexican Spanish is a distinct dialect, blending English, Spanish, and native languages. Mayan words live on today in Mexican Spanish. Mexicans are quite forgiving, so don't hesitate to try and speak Spanish. In fact, it's considered good manners to try and speak in Spanish rather than assume someone knows English. Locals will be glad to help you out by kindly correcting errors, or pointing out differences between Castillian Spanish (the so-called "proper" Spanish taught in schools) and Mexican Spanish.


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