The principal language of Cuba is Spanish and is spoken throughout the island. Spanish in the country is quite similar to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican Spanish, although the version is quite different from that spoken in Spain, Mexico and South America. Cubans are descendants of Canarians that came from Canary Islands so the languages spoken in Cuba are quite similar the native of the island. Cubans tend to swallow the last syllable in a word and generally swallow the‘s’ sound.
Although there are no local dialects, the island’s diverse ethnic groups have influenced speech patterns. African have greatly enriched the vocabulary and contributed the soft, somewhat nasal accent and rhythmic intonation that distinguish contemporary Cuban speech. Immigration has left pockets of Haitians and Jamaicans in Cuba who speak French-based and English-based creoles (hybrid languages created by the mixture of European and African languages). Words of native Indian origin have passed into their languages like hamaca which means hammock in English. Many practitioners of the Santeria religion also speak Lucumi, a “secret” Yoruboid language of the Niger-Congo family.
Another language that is widely spoken in the country is English. Many Cuban business people understand and speak English, but in most cases foreigners make a greater impact and find more acceptability if they address themselves in Spanish to their Cuban interlocutors. Cubans enjoy talking to tourists, especially if you are staying with them in the “casas particulares” and some knowledge of Spanish will help you understand regular Cubans’ experience.