Equatorial Guinea Spanish: Everything Spanish Learners Should Know
If you’re a Spanish speaker or learner, you probably know about the differences between Castilian and Latin American Spanish.
But did you know that both of these differ from Equatorial Guinea Spanish?
Of the countries that speak Spanish, Equatorial Guinea is one you may have overlooked!
So whether you’re planning a trip or simply want to round out your Spanish knowledge, here is everything you need to know about Equatorial Guinea Spanish, plus four resources for learning it.
- A Brief History of Equatorial Guinea Spanish
- The Key Aspects of Equatoguinean Spanish
- 1. It’s noticeably influenced by indigenous languages.
- 2. Pronunciation varies from other forms of Spanish and between speakers.
- 3. The formal “you” is often paired with the informal verb forms.
- 4. Verbal inconsistencies are common.
- 5. Prepositions may be used interchangeably or omitted altogether.
- 6. Nouns and adjectives do not always agree.
- Resources for Learning Equatorial Guinea Spanish
A Brief History of Equatorial Guinea Spanish
Equatorial Guinea speaks a unique version of Spanish that arose from a lengthy historical and cultural background.
The African territory has been controlled by various colonizers throughout its history. Portugal ruled the region starting in the 1470s and ceded it to Spain in the 1770s.
The Spanish wanted the country as a source of slaves for Latin America, but yellow fever soon made the Spanish retreat and the British took over instead.
The Spanish returned in the 1800s and remained in the region until Equatorial Guinea declared independence in 1968.
These European forces and long colonial history had a large effect on both the country and the nature of the Spanish language spoken there, making it noticeably different from any other form of Spanish in the world.
Interested learners can read more in-depth information in Dr. John Lipski’s articles “The Spanish Language of Equatorial Guinea” and “The Spanish of Equatorial Guinea: research on la hispanidad’s best-kept secret.”
For the most important characteristics of Equatoguinean Spanish, however, simply keep reading!
The Key Aspects of Equatoguinean Spanish
1. It’s noticeably influenced by indigenous languages.
It’s thought that about 90% of the population of Equatorial Guinea knows how to speak Spanish, mostly as a second language.
Most people are native speakers of languages indigenous to the region, of which there is an abundance, including Fang, Bube, Benga, Kombe, Equatorial Guinean Pidgin and many more.
Because of this linguistic diversity, native languages can influence individual speakers’ pronunciation and grammar when speaking Spanish. This produces a lot of variation in the Spanish spoken in Equatorial Guinea, which you’ll notice further in the points below.
2. Pronunciation varies from other forms of Spanish and between speakers.
One key difference between Equatoguinean and other types of Spanish is pronunciation.
For instance, an s at the end of a syllable or word is usually strongly pronounced, but is sometimes omitted altogether. Additionally, d can sound like r and there is usually no distinction between r and rr.
There are quite a few other variations that you can read about in more detail in Lipski’s previously mentioned article.
Because of the linguistic diversity in Equatorial Guinea, pronunciation guidelines can also vary a great deal and can be influenced by the pronunciation rules of a given speaker’s native language.
3. The formal “you” is often paired with the informal verb forms.
The formal usted is often paired with the informal tú verb forms in Equatoguinean Spanish.
This is thought to stem from the fact that Spaniards in Equatorial Guinea often expected to be addressed by locals as usted but addressed locals with tú and the associated verb tenses.
4. Verbal inconsistencies are common.
Stems, declensions and conjugations can all vary in Equatoguinean Spanish.
Beyond just the pairing of usted with tú verb forms, you may also notice inconsistent subject-verb agreement, “incorrect” word order and differing vocabulary terms.
5. Prepositions may be used interchangeably or omitted altogether.
De (from), a (to) and en (in) are most notably subject to this rule. While using them interchangeably is more common, they are sometimes omitted.
One of the most common variations is that en is frequently used with motion verbs. For instance, Vamos en escuela might be used to mean “We’re going to school.”
6. Nouns and adjectives do not always agree.
This is true of both number and gender, meaning you might hear a feminine noun paired with a masculine adjective, or a plural noun paired with a singular adjective.
Resources for Learning Equatorial Guinea Spanish
Learning this type of Spanish can be tricky since the rules can vary widely and there are few formal resources to study from.
In the following resources, you are unlikely to encounter as many variations in the language as you might encounter in real-life scenarios. This is because most of these resources are formal and feature exceptionally well-educated speakers and/or writers.
Still, pay close attention and you will learn some interesting things about Equatoguinean Spanish!
“Paludismo en Guinea Ecuatorial”
“Paludismo en Guinea Ecuatorial” (“Malaria in Equatorial Guinea”) is an informational YouTube video created by Medical Care Development International to educate viewers about malaria prevention efforts.
Pay particular attention to the variations in pronunciation between speakers featured in the video.
“Ambassador Discusses Equatorial Guinea’s Native Languages”
In this video, Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador to the United States, Purificación Angue Ondo, briefly discusses the languages spoken in Equatorial Guinea.
This a good opportunity to hear another variation of Equatoguinean Spanish that will also teach you more about the linguistic heritage of the area.
This video is particularly useful for beginning and intermediate Spanish students since the ambassador speaks slowly and clearly. The video is also captioned in English.
“Idioma español en Guinea Ecuatorial”
“Idioma español en Guinea Ecuatorial” (“Spanish language in Equatorial Guinea”) features Paloma del Sol, a singer, composer, writer, actress and painter from Equatorial Guinea.
Paloma del Sol is from the island of Bioko and also performs in the Bube language, so these factors could influence her accent and pronunciation, making it unique from other speakers you’ve now heard.
In this video, she discusses the art and culture of Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea News
While there have not been new videos for a few years, the Equatorial Guinea News YouTube channel offers dozens of great videos featuring the movers and shakers of the region.
You can watch speeches by the president, enjoy videos of sporting events and more. While some videos are in English, there is also plenty of Spanish-language material to keep you busy studying up on Equatoguinean Spanish.
Now that you know more about the Spanish of Equatorial Guinea, go out there and spread your knowledge of this unique variety of the Spanish language!
Your own language experience will be all the richer for it.