Panamanian Spanish

Panamanian Spanish is geographically defined as the form of Spanish spoken in the country of Panama in Central America.

The variations among different speaker groups of the same language can be lexical (vocabulary), phonological (pronunciation), morphological (word forms), or in the use of syntax (grammar).

Historically, Panama was part of Colombia (Nueva Granada) for most of the 19th century, and even though there are still lexical similarities shared by the two countries (e.g. 'pelao' in both Colombia and Panama means kid/child), phonetically Panamanian Spanish is more closely associated with the Spanish as spoken in the coastal areas around the Caribbean and the island countries of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

Phonology and Phonetics

The main chararteristic of Caribbean Spanish is the aspiration of the /s/ sound at the end of a syllable or word, such as in the word "cascada" pronounced [kah-ka-δa] (more like and English 'h' sound) instead of [kas-ka-δa] . This aspiration is also observed in the coastal regions of Peru and Ecuador and in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and in Andalucia and the Canary Islands (Spain).

There are strong indications that Caribbean Spanish is undergoing further phonetic changes. The /r/ sound in end-of-syllable position is being substituted by an /l/, (especially among speakers with low educational levels) in Cuba and specially Puerto Rico e.g. puerta => [pwel-ta] .

Another change observed in Panamanian Spanish is the substitution of /ʃ/ sound (as in the English word 'she') for words containing a 'ch' spelling, e.g. muchacho => [mu-ʃa-ʃo] , among mostly and less educated speakers although it can sometimes be observed among better educated speakers. In the later case both the correct and the /ʃ/ sounds can be heard in the same frase.

Lexicon

Lexically Panamanian Spanish presents a variety of new terms introduced and being incorporated into the daily language all the time. The following quotation shows some Panamanian common expressions:

"Vecina, yo no soy "vidajena", y no me gusta esa "vaina" ... pero te voy a contar un "bochinche"...
pero si me das de comer un poco de "chicheme", "concolón", "carimañola", sancocho y mondongo....
Ese "man" flacuchento y "ñato" vestido de "guayabera" azul y "sombrero montuno" que viene allí ... Su "motete" ya no tiene ñame, guineo ni "guandú". Lo que tiene es un "pocotón" de "chécheres". Según la comadre "fula" "radiobemba", el cambio en ese "laopé" no se debe a una "macuá" ..." ¹

¹From Carlos "Cubena" Guillermo Wilson, "El aporte cultural de la etnia negra en Panamá" http://diadelaetnia.homestead.com/cubena.html

[Note: 'laopé' = 'pelao' (boy)]

Further reading

http://www.personal.psu.edu/jml34/lumbalu.pdf - "El Lenguaje de los negros congos de Panamá"
--Alba, Orlando (1992): "El español del Caribe: unidad frente a diversidad dialectal" Revista de Filología Espaňola,72, 525-540.
--Alvarado de Ricord, Elsie: El español de Panamá; estudio fonético y fonológico. Panama, 1971.
--Giralt Latorre, Javier (1991): «Algunos préstamos en el español de Panamá». Estudios de Lingüística de la Universidad de Alicante, 7, 137-158.
--Broce, Marlene y Torres Cacoullos, Rena (2002): «'Dialectología urbana' rural: la estratificación social de (r) y (l) en Coclé, Panamá». Hispania, 85/2, 342-354.
--Quilis, Antonio y Graell Stanziola, M. (1992): «La lengua española en Panamá». Revista de Filología Española, 72/3-4, 583-638.
--Cedergren, Henrietta J. (1978): «En torno a la variación de la /S/ final de sílaba en Panamá: análisis cuantitativo», en López Morales, Humberto (ed.), Corrientes actuales en la dialectología del Caribe hispánico, Río Piedras, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 80-103.
--Cedergren, Henrietta J.; Rousseau, Pascale y Sankoff, David (1986): «La variabilidad de /r/ implosiva en el español de Panamá y los modelos de ordenación de reglas», en Núñez Cedeño, R., I. Páez Urdaneta y L. Guitart (eds.), Estudios sobre la fonología del español del Caribe, Caracas, Ediciones La Casa de Bello, 13-20.
--Graell Stanziola, M. y Quilis, Antonio (1991): «Datos sobre la lengua española en Panamá», en Hernández Alonso, C. y otros (eds.), Actas del III Congreso Internacional de 'El Español de América', 2, Valladolid, Junta de Castilla y León, 997-1005.
--Malmberg, B. 1965. Estructura silábica del español. Estudios de Fonética Hispánica, Madrid: C.S.I.C.
--Quesada Pacheco, Miguel A. 1996. El español de América Central. En Manual de dialectología hispánica. El español de América, ed. Manuel Alvar. 101-115. Barcelona: Ariel.
----http://spanish100.net

External links

* [http://es.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wikcionario:Jerga_paname%C3%B1a Jerga Panameña] en Wikcionario
* [http://www.parlo.com/es/learn/courses/travel-01-ss/lesson-03/culture3_en.asp Some local vocabulary]


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