Most Commonly Spoken Languages of the Caribbean

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The best memories of adventurous people are made in flip flops under a tropical sun on a very sunny summer day. I have started to plan my business trip to visit a paradise place where I could recover my mind from the pandemic battle that has shaken the world. I will need a tropical beach to close my eyes and listen to the music of the waves splashing between each other, feeling the breeze touching my skin and the wind moving my silky hair.

For those who haven’t visited a Caribbean island yet, physiographically, the Caribbean region is a chain of 5,000 islands, reefs and cays surrounding the Caribbean Sea. The region is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida in the North, by the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the South lines on the South Coast of the continent of South America. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

Most people who have visited the Caribbean know that English is the first and, in some cases, a second language for most tourists across the islands. However, most visitors and businesses will find that it is a lot easier to communicate if you know the local language. Interestingly, there are many languages spoken across the islands mainly depending on which colonial power held those locations.

In this article as I have been visiting the Caribbean for consecutive years, I can tell you about the languages spoken other than English and their locations. This way, it will be easier to plan a (business or leisure) trip and use local vocabulary.

Spanish

Spanish language is spoken in territories including Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. These countries were discovered by the famous explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, who landed on the shores of Hispaniola, which is the modern-day Dominican Republic, Spanish has been spoken here for centuries. Subsequent islands conquered by Spain (mentioned above) continue to speak Spanish to this day. The exception, though, is Trinidad and Jamaica.

French

Martinique was the first French Colony established in 1635, along with Guadeloupe, which continues to be a department of France to this day. The French-speaking islands include St. Martin, Martinique, St. Barts and Guadeloupe. Though Haiti is another French-speaking island and was formerly Saint-Domingue.
To the surprise of many people who have not visited these modern-day Islands, there is a French-derived creole spoken across the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia. Now the official language was English back in the day, the island changed ownership amongst colonial powers many times, and that resulted in a combination of languages or an amalgamation that’s spoken.

Dutch

Dutch is still spoken in Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Maarten and Bonaire. These places were mainly dominated by the Netherlands, and many of these islands continue to have a relationship with the Netherlands. That said, English is still spoken, along with Spanish because of its proximity to Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire.

Local Creole

Visitors to the Caribbean Islands will find that in addition to the languages above, there is a local patois or a creole that is spoken by the locals usually to communicate with each other. It is called Papiamento in the Dutch Caribbean. Many residents across the islands speak in what is a rapid-fire patois, which to someone who isn’t familiar with the language is unintelligible, but at the very same time, these people can switch to perfect, clear English.

Now there are many variations of this creole language, and it mainly varies across islands. On some islands, it incorporates French with some Taino and African language. Other islands have English, French, and Dutch elements mainly depending on who was running the islands and for how long.

The Jamaican and Haitian creole is very different from the Antillean Creole. Similarly, in Trinidad and Guadeloupe, you’ll hear words from South Asian languages like Hindi, Lebanese, Tamil, and Chinese, which are thanks in part to immigrants from these countries.

In most cases all hotel workers and local people are able to communicate in any major language like French, English, and Dutch. Understanding these will take you a very long way.

In case you have free time on your future business trip, there are many places to visit in the Caribbean with a rich cultural heritage, delicious food, tourist trips and plenty of sports to practice.