October 29, 2007

Why Puerto Rico?

So, as we get started, maybe you're wondering what is so exciting about Puerto Rico, anyways. Why aren't I writing about Mexico or Chile or Spain instead? And why should you be interested in going?

Well, the island is very accessible, particularly for Americans. Since it's a territory, it's convenient for Americans. It's only a few hours away from the East Coast, and tickets are cheaper than most international flights. Puerto Rican currency is the dollar, and many islanders speak English.

But those are the practical reasons. What's really attractive about Puerto Rico is the culture. I think I've really gone crazy for it. To me it's fascinating, and quite honestly, I don't think I'll be able to explain why, but I'll give it a shot. There is this great mixture of African, Taíno (Indian), and, of course, Spanish influences, plus a bunch of American thrown in. On top of this is just... Puerto Rican-ness. After all, people assume that Puerto Rico is like any other Spanish-speaking country, or that it's very Americanized, or that there are a lot of Black or Amerindian people. None of these is entirely true. It's a mixture, more successful than America's "melting pot" in many ways.

My favorite thing about this is how it manifests in the music. Puerto Rico has no film or telenovela (soap opera) industry to speak of. The literature is not as well known as Cuba's, much less Spain's or Argentina's. But I would bet that there are more musicians in each square mile than in any other country of the world.

Now, for those of you who don't like reggaetón, this can be hard to fathom. But reggaetón is just an additional part of Puerto Rico's music that has developed from as far back as the Taíno areytos. Meanwhile, reggaetón, whether you like it or not, is one of the largest musical waves in Latin America as well as the US, and it is nearly exclusively a product of the island.

I'll be sure to delve into music again, in less general terms. For now that should be fitting.

I guess something else that I love about the island is the speech, which is the point of this blog, after all. Puerto Rican Spanish is one of the most difficult varieties of Spanish to understand. Once you can understand it, however, you get to experience the fun of speaking it (because turning your s's into j's really is fun) and the richness of the culture that has seeped into it. A lot of very strange slang has origins in culture, and without knowing both the slang and the culture, communicating comfortably with Puerto Ricans becomes much harder. But the slang isn't necessarily difficult to learn and it certainly is interesting.

I could go on with this, but those are my two biggest reasons. I think any another incentives will reveal themselves after time. Hopefully I can cover the island enough in order to appeal to everyone. But let me say this again: this is my passion. I love this island and I love the people, quirky and irritating as they can occasionally be (don't take offense, no culture is complete without idiots). I just hope my enthusiasm can be shared with others.

October 26, 2007


Welcome to Speaking Boricua. Here I hope to introduce Puerto Rican speech to you, as well as culture and other fundamentals necessary to understand Puerto Rico.

You, the reader, are:
- An American learning Spanish who wants to be able to understand (difficult) Puerto Rican Spanish
- An American just interested in other cultures in general
- A Spanish-speaker of another country interested in Puerto Rico
- A Puerto Rican living on the mainland wanting to learn about your/your family's culture
- A Puerto Rican on the island hoping to correct me (which is fine)

I, the author, am a university student who is fascinated by Puerto Rico, particularly the language. I study various languages but my passion will always be Puerto Rican Spanish. I've traveled multiple times to the island, staying for various amounts of time with friends and their families. I also spend a lot of time stateside with my good friend, who is Puerto Rican. I hope I'll be able to share this amazing language and culture with you.

Some things I'll be writing about: use of language (obviously), culture, history, music, politics, food, and more. I plan on using youtube to demonstrate some of this, as well as my own personal photos, experience, and research.

Also, this blog is in English, since it is intended mostly for English-speakers learning about Puerto Rico. However, I'll also include materials in Spanish, hopefully with a synopsis in English.