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Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Chicago, Illinois
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Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Hi everyone,

I saw a post from someone a couple months ago about this same topic, but I wanted to know of any new updates. I've studied Spanish in high school but have forgotten most of it. 2 years ago, I studied abroad in Ecuador for 3 weeks and learned a lot (probably more than I did in high school) because I was immersed in the culture and practicing constantly. I'm a speech therapist and have worked with a lot of interpreters with spanish speaking clients so I've kept up my spanish skills this way along with joining Spanish groups on meetup.com

I visited Puerto Rico 2 weeks ago and loved it. The island is beautiful! I love the history and cultural environment. I did find with some locals that if I tried to speak spanish, they would speak English back. Has anyone studied abroad in Puerto Rico and found this as well? What advice do you have as far as studying here? do you recommend it? I would like to go back to explore more of the island. Also, I can get a really great discount fair through my Uncle who works for the airline so that's another reason I'd like to go there. If I go to another country, the airline ticket would cost probably around $1000.

Thanks for the help!

Cleves, Ohio
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1. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Just my .02 worth. I speak fluent Spanish. When I was in PR and spoke Spanish most of the time replies were in English. I have friends from Colombia and The Dominican Republic as well that live in Aruba. When I speak Spanish to them, reply in English. My friends work in the tourism industry(one in a hotel and one has her own jewelry business) I think that the reason for replies in English is that while I am boning up on my Spanish, they are improving their English to help them in the business world. just my opinion.

Another reason they may have replied in English, in my case is that my husband doesn't speak Spanish.

As for classes I have no idea but immersing yourself in the people, culture and food could help immensely.

Cleveland, Ohio
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for Puerto Rico, Carolina
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2. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Agree, San Juan being the tourist area folks will use English. Try getting away and into the island away from the tourist areas.

usa
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3. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

People in PR will probably think they are doing you a favor by speaking English to you, especially if you are not fluent in Spanish or they find it difficult to understand you, if your accent is too pronounced. It would be best to get away from the Metro San Juan area and go out on the island to more remote areas where people are less inclined to speak English. Consider also that the Spanish spoken in PR is unique to Puerto Rico and has it's own nuances, colloquialisms, and pronunciation. PR Spanish is also interspersed with many anglicisms, i.e. English worlds that have been formed into Spanish words and are not accepted in the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, e.g., el rufo (the roof), la furnitura (the furniture), the trucks (los troces), etc. There are also words that originated with the African slaves brought to the island centuries ago and words from the aboriginal Taino Indians.

Edited: 07 April 2014, 14:12
San Juan, Puerto...
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4. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Prexplorer, 2 of the anglicism examples you used are not used at all in PR. They are used mostly in the spanish communities in NY and other areas. But your point is well taken. However, if you follow the RAE (language regulatory agency in Spain) more and more anglicisms are being accepted as proper Spanish. Some words have even lost their accentuation marks.

usa
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5. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

nytoparis, PR's are transient, going back and forth from the U.S. mainland to the island, so it is difficult to assess what words are used by whom all over the island. I can only give you my own experience as a Puerto Rican and my interaction with those who live on the island, especially relatives who reside there. Many Latinos and Spaniards find it hard to understand Puerto Rican Spanish because it is so interspersed with English wording (anglicisms) that do not appear in the Real Academia Espanola dictionary. Most accepted words that have been anglicized are those pertaining to words that have been coined for new consumer products and inventions (whether tangible or intangible) that have otherwise no Spanish designations.

No. Illinois
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6. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

This is an interesting discussion!

No. Illinois
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7. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

My husband and I want to learn Spanish, too, and weren't sure how to go about learning PR spanish. Maybe lean Latin American Spanish and then adjust and learn PR when we spend longer periods there.

San Juan, Puerto...
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8. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Prexplorer, perhaps your relatives have lived in the US and have brought those words with them. But pricans that have never left the island will look at you funny if you say rufo, suera (sweater) or furnitura. Oh, and I did refer to "spanish community" and not latino, bc the words you refer to are more common in the NE, where we are called "spanish". "Latino" is used more in the south/southwest.

The current joke with RAE is that they are accepting words that are clear english adaptations of words that are of common usage, not of new terms. A new set of guidelines came out recently.

To the bjschutt, there are always regional differences in language, so it really does not matter which spanish you learn. There will be no "latin american", "puerto rican" or "spaniard" schools. You will learn what is more common in the country you are studying at, then you will learn new words and usage as you practice in other countries.

Edited: 07 April 2014, 19:22
usa
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9. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Well, nytoparis we are just going to have to disagree on this. I have family who lives in PR who have NEVER lived in the U.S. And regarding the term "Latino", it refers to anyone from Latin America and the Caribbean. "Spanish" is incorrect unless you are referring to the language or the people originating from Spain or their cuisine. Puerto Ricans are NOT "Spanish" nor do the people of Spain refer to them as such. They generally refer to non-Spaniards as "Americanos", as in "Latin Americans." Perhaps you are referring to "Hispanic" which is a debatable designation, as the word originates from Hispania, the old Roman term for the Iberian Peninsula.

Edited: 07 April 2014, 23:13
usa
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10. Re: Studying Spanish in Puerto Rico

Regarding the new English/Spanish adaptations, I would be interested in seeing a list of these words.