Learn More About the Cuban Language| Rosetta Stone®
Discover more about the Cuban Language, sometimes referred to as Cubano, and how Cuban Spanish has evolved.
Trinidad in Cuba header of Rosetta Stone Cuban Language page

Learn More About the Cuban Language

Spoken by 11 million native speakers, Cuban Spanish , sometimes referred to as Cubano, is the lingua franca of Cuba. Despite its isolation, the Cuban language has been influenced by the vibrant diversity of the population. The Spanish spoken by Cubans is a variation of Castilian Spanish, brought over by immigrants from the Canary Islands in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, Cuban Spanish and Haitian Creole are the two most widely spoken languages of this vibrant island nation.

While it is considered a close cousin, Cubano does differ in some respects from the Castilian Spanish spoken in Spain. Some vocabulary inherited from communism, Creole slang, and a nasal accent and rhythmic intonation make the Cuban language sound unique compared to other Latin American variants of Spanish.

As travel restrictions to Cuba have eased in recent years, the island has become a bustling business and tourist destination in the Carribean. In addition to learning Spanish , a familiarity with Cubano language, culture, and history will help visitors get beyond the tourist resorts and into the heart of this charming country, nicknamed by the French The Pearl of the Antilles.

Want to learn more about visiting Cuba? Watch Peter as he says Hola to Havana.

The History of Cuban Spanish

Due to colonization by Spain, the Spanish spoken in Cuba most closely resembles Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands and Andalusia, an autonomous community in Southern Spain. Cubano is most similar to the accent of native speakers in La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Island located off the northwest coast of Africa. This influence is primarily due to large waves of immigrants from the Canary Islands in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The eclectic Cubano vocabulary is an example of the various cultural and historical influences on the island. While many Cuban words come from the Canary Islands, you’ll also find terms from West African, French, and even Andalusian or Galician. Despite decades of strained tensions between the two countries, the Cuban language also has words from American English including pulóver (“t-shirt”) and chor for “shorts.”

Since the Cuban revolution began in 1959, large groups of migrants and refugees escaping Cuba had a profound influence on the United States, specifically Florida and Miami. Much of the culture, cuisine, and even the language in Miami reflects strong ties to Cuba since more than half of the citys residents identify as Cuban-Americans .

How to Speak Cuban Spanish

Pronunciation can be one of the trickier aspects of Cuban Spanish. Cubano often assimilates the r and l sounds into the consonants that follow or uses the two sounds interchangeably. The sounds at the beginning of a word can disappear entirely and s sounds may be omitted or aspirated. In general, you’ll hear a lot of slurred consonants in Cuban speech.

It may also help to know a few frequently used Cuban slang words such as yuma (a word for foreigners, usually from the United States) and ay que rico the Cuban equivalent of the exclamation “ay caramba.”

If you’re traveling to Cuba soon and worried about speaking the language, brushing up on Spanish is the best way to interact confidently with locals. While there are some differences between standardized Spanish spoken in Spain or Latin America and Cubano, you’ll have the tools you need to understand and be understood by most Cuban speakers.

Take the free trial to start learning Spanish now.

Try Our Award-Winning App

Surround yourself with Spanish whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app .

Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation .

The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.

Learn Languages app in Google Play store Learn Languages app in iOS app store

Gladys Profile ImageQuote Flourish Icon

I've been using Rosetta Stone for years to gain basic competency in multiple languages including German, French, Italian, and recently Chinese and Russian. Starts with the very basics teaching basic vocabulary and grammar without any memorization. I've even impressed some locals in my travels with pronunciation and fluency. This is an excellent place to start if interested in starting to learn a new language or brushing up on one learned years ago.

-Gladys
Sy Profile ImageQuote Flourish Icon

I am trying out Rosetta Stone, to see if it will help out with the correct grammar and conversation (as well as learning how to read and write the language). Within a week, I can already master the sentence structure and start learning the grammar with particles. The local community is so excited to see that I am starting to learn their language. Out of all the language learning tools out there, I 100% recommend Rosetta Stone!

-Sy
Jim Profile ImageQuote Flourish Icon

I've tried other language learning software but Rosetta Stone is much more challenging and professional. I don't have to worry about earning points and following the leader board. I'm trying out the ninety day trial to learn some Russian and I will pay for the privilege once I reach the end of the trial.

-Jim
Trusted for 25+ years by top organizations.
What people say about us.
"I love Rosetta Stone's software, and I think the approach to learning languages works."
"With its excellent user interface, clear instructions, wide variety of games and challenges... Rosetta Stone has got it going on."
"The gold standard of computer-based language learning."
Sign up to stay in touch.
Get Rosetta Stone news and offers.
Sign up
By signing up, I agree to the
Terms and Conditions
By signing up, I agree to receive information and marketing relating to news, updates on Rosetta Stone products and services, offers, and invitations to events from Rosetta Stone, and I understand and agree that Rosetta Stone may process and transfer my information to its affiliates globally and to third-party entities that provide services to Rosetta Stone for such purposes, in accordance with Rosetta Stone’s Privacy Policy. I understand that I may opt-out of such communications at any time by clicking the link provided in the communication or by contacting Rosetta Stone at  [email protected].