Limón patois combines English phrases, brought by Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants to the province in the last century, with a Spanish slightly different to that spoken in the Highlands. Though used less these days, the traditional greeting of “What happen?” (“Whoppin?”) remains a stock phrase, equivalent to the Spanish “¿Qué pasa?” (“What’s going on?”). In Limón, you’ll also hear the more laconic “Okay” or “All right” (both hello and goodbye) taking the place of the Spanish “Adiós” (“hello” in Costa Rica rather than goodbye; For more information, see Useful expressions and vocabulary), “Que le vaya bien” and “Que Díos le acompañe”.

Yet, English might be spoken at home, and among the older Limón crowd, but Spanish is the language taught at school and used on the street, particularly among the younger generation. Older Limonenses sometimes refer to Spanish speakers as “Spaniamen” (which comes out sounding like “Sponyaman”).

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