Spanish Country Spotlight: Panama

The Republic of Panama has an interesting and diverse way of speaking the Spanish language. Located in Central America, the country has both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans which gives it an extensive coastline. Given the history, and the United States’ presence, the way of speaking Spanish in Panama has been influenced by English. anglicisms (words borrowed from English) are very common. Such are: buay (boy), guial (girl), guachiman (watchman), priti (pretty). Some of anglicisms have also been influenced by Caribbean immigrants who immigrated to Panama when the Panama Canal was being built, they came from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica; this was during 1904-1914.

Spanish from Los Santos and Herrera is greatly influenced from Spain. Source: web

Besides the Caribbean and American influences, some native American words are used in daily language; Panama recognizes 7 native American groups today which are an important part of the heritage. Nowadays, Panama has become a melting pot of people from all over the world. Groups such as Indians, Chinese, Greeks, Italians and others have made the country more diverse which definitely influences the way people continue to speak Spanish.

However, not all the country is the same; the way people speak varies depending on factors such as: upbringing, culture and what part of the country the person is from. For example, if they are from Bocas del Toro and Colón, Spanish is more influenced by English and Caribbean people given the history and demographics of the area and its proximity to the Antilles. If someone is from the provinces of Herrera or Los Santos, the Spanish will have little outside influence from other ethnicities and will most likely resemble an Andalusian accent from Spain. However, if one is from the province of Veraguas, Spanish here has more native American influence and the inhabitants are of Mestizo origin (closer to the demographics of the rest of Central America).

This is to show Panama has a very rich history when it comes to its people; this is also a source of pride for many as various groups of people from different origins and ancestries call this small strip of land home. Because of this great influence of people, the Spanish also varies tremendously depending on the region one is from and what the ancestry of the person is. There is no doubt there are other characteristics which influence how someone speaks Spanish but the strength of diversity in Panama creates a unique way of speaking the language.

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