Thepeople of Cuba have a rich culture that has evolved over time. TheEuropeans who had an interest in the area brought in African slaveswho had a great influence on the traditional practices in the regionas well as language. This makes the influence of the African languageevident in the people’s vocabulary and intonations in the rhythm.In addition, the presence of French and English speaking populationsin the regions also affected the language development. This led tothe birth of Cuban Spanish language which is almost similar to theCanarian Spanish. The dialect has developed over time and it has beenassumed as the most common language of the Cuban citizens. This paperwill discuss the Cuban Spanish dialect with emphasis on itscharacteristics and interactions with other languages.
TheCuban-Spanish language is one of the major dialects spoken in Cuba.Phonologists have identified the dialect as a mixture of differentlanguages including English, Spanish, and African intonation.Linguists also regard it as one of the hardest Spanish are alsoconsiderably faster in speech that others in the region who usedifferent dialects.1
TheUsers of the Language
Cuba-Spanishis spoken by about 90% of the population living in Cuba.2Therefore it is not considered as a language of the minority. Itspresence and use in the country are evenly distributed except in verysmall minority groups that use the Lucumi language. The Cuban-Spanishusers apply borrowed words from Africa, Ameri-India, and India.3The intonation that they give to the words is associated with theslaves who were part of the country’s early development. They camewith an African intonation, and it influenced the progression of thelanguage.
TheClosely Related Dialects to Cuban-Spanish
TheCuban-Spanish dialect stemmed from the mainstream Spanish languageand the different characteristics that it exhibits, for instance,intonation and dropping of syllables, is an influence of otheraccents of its users. It shares various attributes with otherlanguages in the region, particularly in jurisdictions that useSpanish. For example, the Cuban-Spanish dialect focuses ondebuccalization of the syllable /s/ and this is also observed in thecoastal communities that speak lowland Spanish.4The characteristic is also common in Iberia Peninsula community.
OtherLanguages Spoken by the Cuban-Spanish Users
Cubais a socialist state, and the government does not have a one languagepolicy. Therefore, besides Cuban-Spanish, there are other dialectsthat are spoken by the residents, and they have also influenced thevocabularies in dominant dialect. Some of the citizens also useCreoleandLucumi.However, it is noteworthy that the minority groups are the ones thatblend into the dominant language and they become bi andmulti-linguals. The rationale for this is that the Cuban-Spanish istaken as the official language and it is used in most formaldeliberations.
Writingthe Cuban-Spanish Dialect
Asan official language in Cuba, the dialect is learned and written inboth formal and informal contexts. The language is written withdiminutive endings of either –icoor ica.This is different from the standard Spanish suffixes of –itoand –ita.5
Restrictionson the use of Cuban-Spanish language
Unlikeother minor languages in the country for instance Lucumi,the Cuban-Spanish dialect does not have a restricted use. However,its use among different age groups in the population has slightvariations. For example, the language is used in a formal way when ayounger person is speaking to an elderly citizen. The formal use ofthe language is interpreted as a show of respect.6Conversely, individuals of the same age my converse informally.Adults exchange hugs when greeting their friends and family members.While speaking to strangers, the language is structured to showrespect through common words like micorazónand cariño.In addition, the language has developed to be sensitive to thecountry’s history of slavery. The socialist policy in the countryemphasizes the use of compañero(friend) instead of the conventional señor(sir).7
Issuesof Power and Authority in the Language
TheCuban-Spanish dialect is under several aspects of power and authoritythat have shaped its development and use among the citizens. Fisrt,it is considered as the official language in the country, and it isused in parliamentary proceedings as well as in the social functions.This has influenced the way the users perceive it since it is takenas the dominant dialect among the other used by the differentsub-groups. Secondly, more than 90% of the population speaks thelanguage in addition to the minority groups that speak it besidestheir indigenous dialects.
TheVitality of the Cuban Spanish Language
Thedialect is not under any form of threat to the community in which itis used. The rationale for this is that it is the dominant dialect inthe country and it has earned the support of the government by beingused as the official language. In addition, there is negligibleinfluence of the other indigenous languages.8The changes that took place to forge the Spanish language to conformto the Cuban culture no longer pose a threat. In fact, the languagecan be termed as stable.
Somedifferences between Cuban-Spanish and English
Englishspeakers may find it challenging when learning or speakingCuban-Spanish due to the difference in intonation and the use ofvowels. Traditionally, Cuban-Spanish has five vowels and diphthongs.This is different with English that has 12 vowels and 8 diphthongs.9Also, unlike in English where the length of a vowel is significant inpronunciation, Cuban-Spanish does not have such an emphasis. Anothermajor difference between the two dialects is observed on their stressin words. Cuban-Spanish is syllable-timed while English isstress-oriented. The intonations and meaning of words in English is aresult of stress.10Therefore, I believe that it can be challenging to learn either ofthe languages after having one of them as the mother tongue.
Summarily,the Cuban-Spanish language is spoken by the citizens of Cuba. It isthe dominant language with about 90% of the population speaking it.The dialect is a mixture SPANIS, Ameri-Indian, Indian and Africanintonations and this makes it different from the pure language spokenin Spain. The influx of the slaves in the country influenced thedevelopment of the language. The language in used in parliamentaryproceedings in Cuba and other official functions and this makes itthe most spoken and influential dialect in the country. Some of itsMorphological and Phonological attributes are also observed in thelanguage spoken by the lowland Spanish-speaking communities, andthose in the Iberia Peninsula. However, it differs with English inthe use of vowels and word stress. Although it is one of the mostprogressive languages in Cuba and the Caribbean area, there is needfor research on its interaction with other dialects in the region.
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1 Austin, Jennifer, María Blume, and Liliana Sánchez (Bilingualism in the Spanish-speaking world: linguistic and cognitive perspectives. Unted Kingdom Cambridge University Press, 2015), p.15
2 Claes, Jeroen. "A Cognitive Sociolinguistic model of morphosyntactic alternations: A case study of subject pronoun expression in Cuban Spanish." Cognitive Linguistics (2016).
3 Anrrich, Graciela M (Substitutions for English consonants by adult speakers of Cuban Spanish. ProQuest, 2011), p.7
4 Anrich, p.13
5 Romero, Gilberto Garcia. "Contrastive modelling of the intonation of recapitulatory echo interrogative sentences in modern American English and Cuban Spanish." (2013): p.24
6 Romero, p.26
7 Romero, p.27
8 Westgate, Christopher Joseph. "One Language, One Nation, and One Vision." Contemporary Latina/o Media: Production, Circulation, Politics (2014): 82.
9 Claes, Jeroen. "A Cognitive Sociolinguistic model of morphosyntactic alternations: A case study of subject pronoun expression in Cuban Spanish." Cognitive Linguistics (2016): p.4
10 Cognitive Linguistics, p.4