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.


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"

[Note: 'laopé' = 'pelao' (boy)]

Further reading - "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.

External links

* [ Jerga Panameña] en Wikcionario
* [ Some local vocabulary]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Panamanian passport — Panamanian passports are issued to Panamanian citizens to travel outside of Panama.Visa free travelVisas Omission agreement: The countries listed in this category, have convened an agreement with Panama, by which visa requirements are exonerated …   Wikipedia

  • Panamanian cuisine — is both unique and rich. As a land bridge between two continents, Panama possesses an unusual variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs that are used in native cooking.[citation needed] Panamanian cuisine is a unique mix of African,… …   Wikipedia

  • Spanish dialects and varieties — Spanish language …   Wikipedia

  • Spanish language in the Philippines — Spanish Española/Español filipino Spoken in  Philippines Native speakers …   Wikipedia

  • Panamanian American — A Panamanian American is any United States citizen or resident who traces his or her ancestry to the Central American nation of Panama.In the 2006 American Community Survey, Panamanian Americans were estimated at 123,631. [cite web… …   Wikipedia

  • Spanish language — Castellano and Español redirect here. For the village in Italy, see Castellano, Trentino. For people with the surname Castellano, see Castellano (surname). Castilian castellano Pronunciation [kasteˈʎano] Spoken in …   Wikipedia

  • Spanish profanity — Joder redirects here. For the community in Nebraska, see Joder, Nebraska. This article is a summary of Spanish profanity, referred to in the Spanish language as lenguaje soez (low language), maldiciones (curse words), malas palabras (bad words),… …   Wikipedia

  • Spanish cuisine — Jamón Ibérico, BEHER Belota Oro , was elected as Best ham in the world in IFFA Delicat 2007 and 2010. Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by… …   Wikipedia

  • Panamanian balboa — Infobox Currency currency name in local = balboa panameño es icon image 1 =MonedasPA.jpg image title 1 = 1 centésimo, frac|10 and ¼ balboa coins image 2 = image title 2 = iso code = PAB using countries = Panama inflation rate = 2.6% inflation… …   Wikipedia

  • Panamanian Cycling Federation — The Panamanian Cycling Federation (in Spanish: Federación Panameña de Ciclismo ) is the national governing body of cycle racing in Panama.It is a member of the UCI and COPACI.External links* [ Federación Panameña de Ciclismo …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.