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The Birth of Dominican Spanish

How the Spanish language was born in the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America. Its history and process.

By: Maria Aduke Alabi - April 28, 2021 - California

We Dominicans speak a beautiful Spanish, at least that is what Spanish speakers from other countries have told me, they like our accent, although we have no way of hearing and differentiating aurally the way we speak ourselves, if we could identify A Dominican for his speech if we place him next to Puerto Rican, Mexicans, Hondurans, Salvadorans or any other Hispanic speaker from another country, because each has its own accent, we will recognized them and differentiated them from the crowd.

There are many countries that speak Spanish as an official language in America, we have 18 countries; we have Spain in Europe and in Africa we have Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara where it is also official. Many other countries have many Spanish speakers, but they do not accept the language as official. Undoubtedly the Spanish carried Castilian far.

Where was Spanish born?

Spanish was not born in Spain, it comes from Rome, where Latin was born as a peasant language, from where the Castilian language was born, which is so called because it began in Castile and then spread throughout Spain. The Spanish call our language Castilian.

It is Dominican Spanish clearly comes from the Castilian of Spain, since the Spaniards when invading our Quisqueya (First name of the Dominican Republic/Haiti island) in 1492 brought Spanish with them, as part of their luggage. The Spanish practically forced their language through an exorcism at different levels to our aborigines, done by order of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, who, upon learning about the discovery of the new world, asked the Pope for concessions, which were granted to them through what they called bulas, in which the Spaniards grant full rights over our island and its inhabitants for our aborigines being evangelized. This process of evangelization of America gave rise to the Spanish language throughout the American territory.

The Dominicanization of the Spanish language

This represents the beginning since, as you know the Dominican does not speak a Castilian Spanish, he speaks a Dominican Spanish, and how did Castilian become Dominican? You may wonder, I tell you, when Spanish arrived in our Quisqueya (called "Hispaniola" by the Spanish), it replaced the native Taino languages, which were the languages ​​spoken throughout the island.

The Spaniards on the island forced our natives to use the words of to name objects, plants and fruits that were not known to them, such as the batata "sweet potato", the aji "pepper", the guanabana "soursop", the caimito "star apple", the yuca "yucca", the hamaca "hammock", and many others. The same happened with the Africans, who despite being forcibly brought back from West Africa their instruments which they created replicating their owns, such as drums, marimba, its dances, its architecture, its gastronomy and its cultural customs and religious expressions (the atabals, palos, zarandungas, congós, salves.) Also, including some other Africanisms in our Spanish, that was transferred as part of our cultural background. Giving origin to our Afro-Caribbean culture. Some neologisms replaced archaisms of old Spanish. Later on we will take some foreign words from the English of the United States, plus a splash of many other foreign languages ​​that little by little were emigrating to our island and influencing our lexicon.

In response to the question asked several paragraphs above, Spanish became Dominican by been peppered with the seasonings of the native languages ​​of our aborigines, and spiced up by the languages ​​spoken by the by the Africans brought to our island. New words, new terms, those that were gained by the Spaniards in a slow process of adaptation to a new land and to the relationship with different cultures, therefore, these Spaniards on the island were the ones who began the process of birth of the now known Dominican dialect.

A Forced Birth

The Spanish invaders forced themselves on the indigenous people, imposed the Spanish language on them, through forced assimilation, and then the Spanish forced the Africans on our island. Therefor our dialect had a forced birth that brought the death of one member of the trio, the Quisqueyan aborigines, since the Spanish invaders, even without the authorization of the Catholic Church, enslaved our natives, forcing them to do heavy work, and thanks to this, plus the diseases brought by the invaders, our natives practically disappeared from the map and get replaced by African slaves, stolen from Africa and sold around the world as merchandise.

Pedro Henríquez Ureña, in his work "El Español en Santo Domingo," expresses: "Hispaniola was in America the field of acclimatization where the Castilian language adapted to additional needs ..."

So, by summary, our Dominican Spanish is born in Castilian Spanish, it mainly peppered with the Taino languages, Africanisms and Americanisms and reproducing as our own, unique and incomparable product of our identity, which is manifested through our particular phonetic characteristics, linguistic schemes and norms, thus becoming a much broader and more varied vocabulary, which includes the use of beismo (no differentiation between B / V), seseo (omission of S), yeísmo (ll as y), nasalization of vowels, contractions, diminutives, apocope and many more.

It is essential to recognize the origin of our language to appreciate it and give it the position it deserves in our culture without feeling vulgar when speaking it or demanding linguistic perfection in those who express themselves in their own way, without Castilianism. Our Dominican dialect is an important part of the folkloric features of our culture, which, over time, globalization and technology are being disintegrated little by little, besides the desire to pretend to be what we are not and imitate those who because of ignorance we want to be or appear. The Dominican educational system should be part of those institutions that support and value through teaching in classrooms the value of our dialect through the teaching of its history.


Herencia de la Cultura Africana en América Latina. Lione Moscoso, noviembre 2012.

Origen del Español y el Español en Santo Domingo. Laura Marie Gautreaux Cruz, February 2017. Prezi presentation.

Origen del Español en Santo Domingo. Jalinton Reyes. 2015.

Lenguas indígenas del Caribe. Julián Granberry. Cuba Arqueológica / ano V, num 1, 2012.


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