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Bozal Spanish is a possible extinct Spanish-based creole language or pidgin that may have been a mixture of Spanish and Kikongo, with Portuguese influences.[1] Attestation is insufficient to indicate whether Bozal Spanish was ever a single, coherent or stable language, or if the term merely referred to any idiolect of Spanish that included African elements.

Bozal Spanish
español bozal
Native toThe Americas
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

The Spanish distinguished negros ladinos[2] ("Latinate Negros", those who spent more than a year in a Spanish-speaking territory) and negros bozales (wild, untamed[3] Negroes; those born in or freshly arrived from Africa).[4] Similarly, the Portuguese distinguished between índios mansos (tamed, domesticated Indians) and índios bravos (untamed, wild Indians), and between negros crioulos or ladinos (blacks born in the territory of a European empire, cf. Spanish criollo meaning natively-born white person from the colony; crioulo is now the main anti-black slur in Brazilian Portuguese) and negros africanos or boçais (blacks born in Africa).

Bozal Spanish was spoken by African slaves in Cuba[1], Uruguay[5] and other areas of South and Central America from the 17th century up until its possible extinction at around 1850.[6] Although Bozal Spanish is extinct as a language, its influence still exists.[6] In some Cuban folk religious rituals today, people speak what they call "Bozal".[7] Similarly, many songs of the afro genre, which flourished in Cuba in the 1930s and '40s, contain lyrics reminiscent of the language.


  1. ^ a b Clements, J. Clancy. "Bozal Spanish of Cuba", The Linguistic Legacy of Spanish and Portuguese, Cambridge University Press, 2009. 9780511576171
  2. ^ esclavo ladino in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
  3. ^ Mario Andrew Pei; Salvatore Ramondino, eds. (1968), "bozal", The New World Spanish/English English/Spanish Dictionary, New American Library, p. 92
  4. ^ Estéban Pichardo y Tapia (1836), "BOZAL", Diccionario provincial de voces cubanas, p. 39
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Lipski, John M. "Where and how does bozal Spanish survive?", Spanish in Contact: Policy, Social and Linguistic Inquiries, John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2007.
  7. ^ Wirtz, Kristina. 2014. Performing Afro-Cuba: Image, Voice, Spectacle in the Making of Race and History. [See Chapter 4.] Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-11905-2