Home Language Learning What Languages Are Spoken in Costa Rica?

What Languages Are Spoken in Costa Rica?

What Languages Are Spoken in Costa Rica?


If you happen to’re considering of visiting or residing in Costa Rica, you’re in all probability contemplating studying Spanish to boost your communication abilities and delight. And that’s an awesome factor. However to totally perceive the nation and its tradition, it’s essential to take a look at the larger image. 

Costa Rica is extremely numerous—each culturally and linguistically—with thriving Jewish, Muslim, Quaker, Chinese language, and German communities, a few of that are the most important in Central America! There are even a number of kinds of English spoken. This superb selection, together with at the very least six indigenous tribes residing in Costa Rica, makes it a captivating place to probe for a brief journey or an prolonged keep.

If you happen to’re desirous to dive into each language Costa Rica has to supply, Rosetta Stone’s Limitless Languages is the pure language studying selection. You’ll have lifetime entry to immersive classes, quick pronunciation suggestions, and extra to get you conversation-ready in 25 languages! 

That’s thrilling information for any world traveler. To slender down which languages you need to deal with first, let’s check out the complete checklist of languages spoken in Costa Rica under. 

What’s the official language of Costa Rica?

Spanish is an official language of Costa Rica. Like the remainder of Central America, Costa Rica was conquered and colonized by the Spanish within the sixteenth century, the place, quickly after their arrival, Spanish turned the dominant language. 

Costa Rica was a colony of Spain for almost 300 years, forming a part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain which lined the territory recognized immediately as Mexico and past. The nation lastly gained its independence as a part of Mexico’s victory within the early nineteenth century. 

By this time, Spanish was intensely prevalent all through Costa Rica, although dozens of indigenous languages persevered. Though a few of these languages didn’t survive, an awesome a lot of them are nonetheless spoken immediately. The opposite acknowledged languages of Costa Rica are Patois and Mekatelyu, that are, curiously, primarily based on the English language.

What makes Costa Rican Spanish so distinctive?

By now you in all probability already get a way of Costa Rica’s linguistic and non secular variety, uncommon previous, and compelling current. Costa Rica is understood for its tropical rainforests and scrumptious espresso, but it surely additionally has two coasts and unimaginable biodiversity, partly because of being the first tropical nation to reverse deforestation. Fairly cool, proper? However what in regards to the language that’s so ubiquitous all through its jungles and coastlines? 

Costa Rica’s official language of Spanish is spoken by about 5 million folks, to which you is likely to be inclined to say: ¡Son muchas personas! (“That’s lots of people!”). It shares many commonalities with Latin American Spanish, however has sure nuances {that a} educated ear can establish, together with: 

  • Mushy “e”: Ticos, the nickname for Costa Ricans, are inclined to drop or soften the ultimate e of phrases like coche (“automobile”). 
  • Utilizing voseo: Just a few phrases have barely completely different meanings in Costa Rica, and grammatically talking, Costa Ricans use the voseo type when speaking to family and friends. Which means they are saying vos as a substitute of for the phrase “you.” 
  • Slang: Costa Rican Spanish has some fairly enjoyable slang too, like ¿al chile?, which might be straight translated as “to the chili pepper?” but it surely really means “actually?” 

Tranquilo, readers. These are minor variations, and any information of normal Spanish will little question be helpful in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, it’s enjoyable to study all about dialects to impress native audio system! Take a better take a look at uniquely Costa Rican slang, grammar, and extra with our in-depth information

What number of languages are spoken in Costa Rica?

The presence of indigenous languages and an inflow of non permanent residents make the reply to this query tough. Whereas there’s no set quantity, it’s protected to say that there are dozens of languages spoken in Costa Rica, which incorporates European, Asian, and indigenous languages. 

Costa Rica is intent on celebrating and preserving its linguistic variety, having lately dedicated to the objective of fostering a bilingual inhabitants by 2040. Built-in into the nation-wide curriculum, this program locations equal emphasis on English and a handful of different languages supplied by faculties. 

Whereas this will appear to be a lofty objective, a lot of these residing in Costa Rica are already bilingual! 


European languages of Costa Rica

Together with Spanish, Costa Rica boasts at the very least six European languages. Lots of them have a specific Costa Rican sound—some with their very own distinctive vocabulary— whereas others are actually dated dialects which are not often spoken in different elements of the world.


By now it’s clear that Spanish is spoken by almost everybody in Costa Rica. It’s the official language in any case! With 5 million audio system, it’s the major language spoken by most residents. 


Due partly to immigration of the nineteenth century, Costa Rica is house to the most important group of Italian-speaking folks in Central America. However the Italian spoken there may be barely completely different from its European counterpart: it’s been influenced by the nation’s Spanish.


Just like the Italian-speaking inhabitants, Costa Rica additionally has the most important French-speaking inhabitants of Central America brought on by more moderen immigration from France, Canada, and Haiti. Different folks converse the language as a result of they’re descendants of French immigrants from the nineteenth century. French can also be extensively spoken and promoted among the many different inhabitants whose mom tongue is Spanish.


Costa Ricans are recognized among the many Central and Latin American international locations for talking English effectively, maybe as a result of English is an compulsory language in public faculty applications well-funded by the federal government. There are fairly a couple of inhabitants from English-speaking international locations too: about 10,000 Canadians, 20,000 Individuals, and hundreds of British select Costa Rica as their house. A Quaker group that makes use of the outdated type of “thou,” a pronoun meaning “you,” can be discovered right here. 


Due partly to immigration of earlier centuries, hundreds of German-speaking of us from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland dwell in Costa Rica. There’s even a Mennonite group that speaks Plautdietsch, a type of Previous German! 

Asian languages of Costa Rica

After Costa Rica gained its independence within the nineteenth century, immigrants from all over the world landed in Costa Rica. Immigrants from Asia had been no exception, and the lasting affect of their cultures and languages continues immediately. 

Chinese language

Chinese language of us started immigrating to Costa Rica within the nineteenth century–and so they proceed to take action as much as the current day. Previously, this was significantly true of the town of Puntarenas. As in different Latin American international locations like Mexico, Chinese language staff arrived within the nation to work on the haciendas and railroads. In fact, they introduced with them the Mandarin and Cantonese languages, spoken immediately by some 45,000 Chinese language residents in Costa Rica, making it one of many largest Chinese language communities in Central America.


With its inhabitants of immigrants from Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and different Arab international locations, Costa Rica additionally has–you guessed it!–one of many largest Muslim communities within the Central American area, most of whom converse Arabic or use the language for liturgical functions.


To not break the rhythm of variety, Costa Rica has one of many largest Jewish populations in Central America. Used within the Jewish liturgy, Hebrew can also be spoken by the Israeli group that lives there. Traditionally, Jews have additionally migrated to Costa Rica from Poland, Spain, and different European international locations.


Indigenous languages of Costa Rica

Whereas not all of Costa Rica’s indigenous languages have survived, the nation presently has six residing indigenous tongues, all of which fall beneath the bigger linguistic umbrella of the Chibcha language household.


Cabécar, like its sister language Bribri, listed under, is spoken within the Limón province and Talamanca mountain vary space. Not like Bribri, Cabécar is essentially the most extensively spoken indigenous language of Costa Rica, and a pair thousand of its audio system are regarded as monolingual. There are two dialects, one northern and one southern. Regardless of its extensive geographical use, the Cabécar language is in decline.


Spoken within the space of the Talamanca mountain vary, Limón province, and southern Pacific, this language was preserved for fairly a while because of the remoteness of those areas. It’s also spoken in elements of Colombia, Nicaragua, and Panama. These days in Costa Rica, it’s dropping audio system because of immigration and land loss. Lower than 10,000 folks converse it within the nation. There may be additionally a Bribri Signal Language.


Thought of to be an endangered language spoken by lower than 500 folks, Maléku is spoken within the northern area of Costa Rica by the Guatusos. One attention-grabbing reality about Maléku is the 2 methods it types plurals: both by repeating the noun twice or through the use of a modifier to discuss the singular noun. After the Spaniards arrived, the Guatusos had little contact with them, because the tribe lived in remoted circumstances. In a while, many of the inhabitants died throughout battle with Nicaraguan rubber harvesters within the late nineteenth century.


This language, referred to as “Guna” in its personal territory, is spoken within the Cartago Province in Central Costa Rica. Initially from Northern Colombia and elements of Panama, the Kuna, a big group on the time of the Spaniards’ arrival, migrated west after battle with the Spanish. Some folks know the language as Kuna Yala, which geographically talking is the San Blas Islands. A flexible phrase in Kuna is nuedi. It means “glorious,” “good,” “thanks,” and “kindly”!


Ngäbere was previously known as Guaymí. These days, we use Guaymí to speak a few group of two languages: Ngäbere-Buglé. Ngäbere is spoken by the Ngäbe peoples who migrated within the Fifties to elements of southern Costa Rica. In the present day there are about 4,000 folks residing on 5 completely different reservations in Costa Rica, however in Panama they make up nearly all of the indigenous inhabitants. Ngäbere is mutually intelligible with Buglé, and since it’s above all a spoken language, its spelling has solely been lately standardized with the Spanish alphabet. If you wish to greet somebody in Ngäbere, you say ñantörö, which implies “hiya.”


Previously, Buglé was referred to as Buglere. As we talked about, Buglé is a part of the Guaymí household of languages spoken in Costa Rica and Panama, and between the 2 international locations, there are about 3,000 individuals who converse it. Buglé is taken into account to be a tonal language, which implies that grammatical facets of the language are conveyed not simply by phrases however by the speaker’s pitch. The phrase for “water” in Buglé is chi. If you wish to study a couple of extra phrases, check out this checklist.


Different languages of Costa Rica

Jamaican Patois

This English-based language–with influences from indigenous, African, Asian, and European tongues–is spoken not simply in Jamaica however in a variety of locations all over the world, together with Costa Rica. Its Costa Rican dialect known as Limonese Creole as a result of it’s used within the province of Limón on the east coast. Jamaicans who arrived to work on the railroads and plantations launched the language to Costa Rica the place it took on an area variant. Limonese Creole is also called Mekatelyu, coming from the phrase “make I let you know.”

Discover Costa Rica’s nation of languages 

Costa Rica is a small nation of two coasts with a inhabitants of simply over 5 million folks, but its variety in languages, vegetation, and wildlife is wealthy past comparability. Thus its identify: Costa Rica or “Wealthy Coast.” Identified for being a rustic of excessive human improvement and happiness, Costa Rica earns its place on the bucket checklist! 

Spanish is the plain selection for Costa Rican-bound vacationers seeking to study a language, however why cease there? Rosetta Stone has immersive, bite-sized classes in 25 languages that may show you how to join with each group—and our Limitless Languages provides you entry to studying for all times. 

Written by Rowena Galavitz

Rowena Galavitz is a Spanish translator, bilingual copy editor, and language and literature teacher with three grasp’s levels who loves Spanish and all issues Mexico.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here