What Language Does Miami Speak?


Have you ever seen those dos equis beer commercials?  They have a spokesman referred to only as ‘the most interesting man in the world.’  Each commercial shows how he is so amazing and interesting.  The most recent commercial that I saw proclaimed that ‘he spoke Russian in French.’  That got me thinking about how the language spoken in Miami is somewhat of a conundrum.  I say ‘In Miami, everyone speaks Spanish in English.’

So a couple of years ago, I took a Linguistics class in college and I found it fascinating.  My professor was this middle-aged lady who was of Turkish decent and raised in Brazil.  She spoke at least four languages fluently.  One of the things I’ve learned was that languages (like everything else in the world) evolve based on either time or how the native lanugage of the country is altered as new inhabitants move there either because of war or for the hopes of a better life. (i.e. USA)

Miami is a city like no other.  Ask anyone born and raised here like me or anyone who’s ever visited or moved here later in life.  Miami is the city with one of the largest, if not the largest, percentage of Hispanics in the country.  As a result, different countries are represented and with different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean come different regional words, sayings, and proverbs.  Add the last 50 years and couple of generations of that to the immigrants needing to learn to speak English.  This city has words that don’t exist in either the English or Spanish language like the word ‘chanks’, or ‘chance’ (read that in Spanish)  And it’s not only ‘callejera’ (of the street) terms, they’re also in Spanish (or English) local newspapers and magazines.  Whenever I speak to family in Spain, I’ll say a word or sentence from time to time in ‘Spanish’ and they won’t know what the Hell I’m talking about or saying because not only do those words not exist in that region of the world, they don’t really exist in that language!

All that said, keep in mind that The United States has no official language and is the only country in the world to not have an official language.  Most counties have one language, some countries like Canada have two (English and French) and some countries have up to five, like Sweden.  Since Miami has a very unique situation, I believe that, maybe not during my lifetime, but Miami will have an official language or dialect similar to what we all jokingly call ‘Spanglish’ or ‘Cubonics.’  Oh, and just in case you think that this is all in my head, The Miami Heat have a jersey labeled ‘EL HEAT.’


3 thoughts on “What Language Does Miami Speak?

  1. Good article. I almost didn’t believe you researched that no official language point. Noel isn’t convinced that Sweden has five “official” languages. Which one does Swedish Chef speak?

    note: Swedish is spelled with one “E”

  2. I completely agree with this article. I talk to family from the Dominican Republic and I’ll say a word and they have no idea what I’m saying. This was a very well written, well thought out article that exemplifies the melting pot Miami has become in the last few generations. Keep up the great writing!
    -your fellow Columbus Alumnus (and favorite student)

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