Honduras has a history heavily influenced by the Mayan and Aztec cultures, as these were the people pueblos who lived there before the Spanish conquest. As in other Central American countries, there were various subgroups that were formed based on their location due to migration. Once the Spanish arrived, Honduras was populated by a large variety of ethnic groups, due to the convergence of groups coming from Central America.
The Atlantic and Caribbean coasts were settled by black people. The Garifuna, were English speakers who arrived to the area from the English in the north of the country in the middle of the eighteenth century. The presence of slaves from Africa can be explained by the demand for labor.
This made the country rich in terms of diversity. It is a multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual country. The only official language is Spanish, but English Garifuna and various indigenous languages are also spoken. only 3% of the population has a maternal language that is not Spanish, and of these, 90% speak Spanish as their second language.
Ethnic groups and languages spoken:
- Spanish: the country’s official language.
- Garifunas: is the mix of African slaves and Amerindians (Caribbean Indians), who speak Caribbean languages and Garifuna.
- Isleños (Islanders): As the name suggests, they are the island inhabitants (Islas de la Bahía) and they speak the Creole English that came from the English and Irish pirates that inhabited these areas after the arrival of Christopher Columbus, and from the slaves brought over in the next century by banana companies in the English colonies of Jamaica and the Gran Cayman Islands. English is their native language.
- Chortís: those who spoke Chol and those that still exist adapted to speak Spanish.
- Lencas: their language is considered extinct.
- Miskitos: Miskito language.
- Sumos and Tawahkas: Tawahka language, very similar to the Miskito language.
- Xicaques (or Jicaques): some who are still settled in the north of the country
- Payas (or Pech): setteled in the north and central region of the country
There is the influence of regional words and terms, especially with the conservation of certain letters and sounds from indigenous languages, such as the predominance of the letter “x”, which is repeated in all of the languages and derived from the Mayan and Aztec cultures. It can be pronounced as “sh” or “j” depending on the region and the words they use, as well as if you are at the beginning or end of a word.
One main factor in the development of the “different dialects” was the degree of access that the inhabitants had to different provinces between the years 1500 and 1800, and the linguistic changes that this produced. It is said that this influenced the chronology of settlement and the relationship with phonetic phenomenon of contemporary speech.
Out of these changes, the following are analyzed:
- The devoicing of sibilants
- The delay of articulation of “s”, “a”, “x”
- The development of the sibilant between the teeth
- The first stages of yeísmo
- The weakening of the "s" at the end of a syllable
- The velarization of the “n” at the end of a word
- The neutralization of the “l” and the “r” at the end of syllables