New Language Emerges in Nicaragua

New Language Emerges in Nicaragua

By: By Virna Segovia, Compassion Nicaragua Communications Specialist   |   Posted: October 12, 2004

Many Nicaraguan words come from the Aztec language, Nahualt, including Nicaragua itself, which means "here near the water." Though the classic Nahualt language isn't spoken by anyone in the world on a daily basis, some Nahualt words are used in English today. Some examples are avocado, chocolate, cocoa, coyote, tomato and chili.

Spanish is the official language in Nicaragua but psychologists are researching the emergence of a new language discovered in the country within the last 20 years: indigenous sign language.

American professors are studying the language created by an enlarging community of Nicaraguans who are deaf. Incredibly, these Nicaraguans know nothing of what Westerners call "sign language." Their language was created using gestures that deaf children displayed at home with their families.

Nicaragua has a host of other languages spoken within its borders. They include English, which is spoken on the Caribbean coast, and Miskito, one of the more popular indigenous languages, which is spoken throughout Mesoamerica.

Many Nicaraguan words come from the Aztec language, Nahualt, including Nicaragua itself, which means "here near the water."

Don't expect to find every word you hear in a Spanish dictionary. Nicaraguans are known for their use of slang and invented words.

Here are some helpful Spanish phrases to memorize before going to Nicaragua.

Hello: Hola

Goodbye: Adi󳼯i>

How are you?: Có­¯ está µsted?

I am fine.: Estoy bien

Please: Por favor

Thank you: Gracias

Excuse me: Perd󮥭e

You're welcome: De nada

How much does it cost?: Cuá®´o cuesta?

I'll take it: Lo llevo

I do not speak Spanish: No hablo espa񯬼/i>

I don't understand: No entiendo

Where is the bathroom?: Donde estᠥl ba񯿼/i>

Where is the hotel?: Donde está ¥l hotel

It's hot: Hace calor

Spanish pronunciation tips:

The "h" is silent; therefore, hielo is pronounced similar to yellow.

The "񢠩s pronounced "ny"; therefore, peque񯼯i> is pronounced pe-ken-yo.