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Puerto Rico – bilingual or not really ?

Spanish and English are the two official languages of Puerto Rico. Since there are two official languages, both of which are taught in school, many people mistake it as a bilingual country.

So what’s the truth? The truth is that Puerto Rico is not a bilingual country. Of course, there are bilingual individuals (just like in any other country), but society as a whole is not bilingual. Spanish is spoken by almost 95% of the population, while less than 20% know how to speak English “very well”.

The reason why Puerto Ricans don’t like to speak English can be traced back to the 19th century when Americans invaded the country. English will always remind Puerto Ricans of an attempt at Americanization committed by Americans.

By introducing English, they wanted Puerto Ricans to understand the concept of democracy, making them more civilized. It was also an attempt to make Puerto Rico loyal to the US.

Another reason might be that Puerto Ricans really value their culture of which language is part of. If English will grow and starts to be more and more used, it will look like a threat to a stable position of Spanish.

However, that doesn’t stop the government from trying to transform the island into a fully bilingual country. But for now, in most cases, if you want to perform some business deal in there, you will need to use the Puerto Rico interpretation or translation services.

Since Puerto Rican Spanish contains some words borrowed from English, a person who learnt only standard Spanish might get confused. And funny things can come out from a wrong translation – to discover what type of things, check out the infographic below.

Puerto Rico – bilingual or not really ?

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