¿Habla ingles? Language in Peru
Peru's official languages are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, although several other indigenous languages have some degree of official status. However, although many people around Lake Titicaca have Aymara as a mother-tongue, and you'll hear plenty of Quechua spoken on the streets of Cusco, Spanish is spoken by just about everybody you're likely to meet.
Obviously all our guides and representatives will speak excellent English, and you'll find English-speakers in most hotels and restaurants as well, but we do give all our customers a special Peru language guide, and we'd also recommend taking a dictionary or downloading a dictionary app to your phone: it can be really useful if there's something you particularly want to buy but a shop assistant doesn't speak any English, or if you want to make sure of what you're ordering...
||Peruvian Chilli Pepper
||Fish/seafood cured in lime juice
|Chau! / Chaufa!
||(a) girl or a 50c coin
||Corn on the Cob
||Beef and red pepper stir fry
|Mate de Coca
||Large, slightly spicy pepper
Of course, we'd also recommend just having a go at some Spanish, and if you've picked up any Spanish on holidays in Europe then you'll find it works just as well in Peru. The only major difference between Peruvian Spanish and 'Spanish' Spanish is that you can drop the lisp: the letters 'c' and 'z' are pronounced like the English 's' rather than the Iberian 'th'. Apart from that, pronunciation is pretty similar and the great thing about Spanish is that it is almost always pronounced as it's written, so don't be afraid of having a go at words on menus or in guides.
Where Peruvian Spanish can be a bit different is in vocabulary, just like American English vs British English. In fact, in the same way that American English contains what are actually archaic 'British' words (eg: Sidewalk for pavement), Peruvian Spanish contains many archaic Spanish words. So Peruvians will say 'manteca' and mean butter whereas in modern Spain it means 'lard' and they use 'mantequilla' for butter.
Aside from the odd example, most vocabulary is the same and frequently any differences are also the same in other South American countries. However, there are a few bits of vocabulary which are uniquely Peruvian, so in this table we've given you a few bits of Peruvian Spanish that you probably won't find in your dictionary!