Spanish Languages Varieties

The Spanish-speaking world is very diverse. Spanish is the language of 19 separate countries and Puerto Rico. This means that there is no one standard dialect.

The most common Spanish dialect taught in the U.S. is standard Latin American. It is sometimes called “Highland” Spanish since it is generally spoken in the mountainous areas of Latin America.
While each country retains its own accents and has some unique vocabulary, residents of countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Perú, and Bolivia generally speak Latin American Spanish, especially in urban centers.
This dialect is noted for its pronunciation of each letter and its strong “r” sounds.
This Spanish was spoken in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was brought to the Americas by the early colonists.
However, the Spanish of Madrid and of northern Spain, called Castilian, developed characteristics that never reached the New World. These include the pronunciation of “ci” and “ce” as “th.” In Madrid, “gracias” (thank you) becomes “gratheas” (as opposed to “gras-see-as” in Latin America.)
Another difference is the use of the word “vosotros” (you all, or you guys) as the informal form of “ustedes” in Spain.
Castilian sounds to Latin Americans much like British English sounds to U.S. residents.
The third major type of Spanish is spoken in the Caribbean, coastal areas of Latin America, and in some cases in southern Spain. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the accent in Seville, Cádiz, and other cities in Andalusia, in Southern Spain, began to change. Speakers began to drop the final “s” on words.
The settlers and traders of southern Spain took this dialect with them to the Caribbean and other coastal areas. Today Caribbean or “Lowland” Spanish is characterized by its relative informality, its rapid pace, and the dropping of “s” sounds, allowing people to talk more quickly.
A fourth type of Spanish has developed in and around Buenos Aires and in parts of Uruguay. It is characterized by some out-of-date grammar, and a vocabulary and pronunciation heavily influenced by Italians who settled the area in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Generally in the Spanish world “tú” is the singular way of saying “you.” In Buenos Aires, however, “vos” is used instead. It is accompanied by a modified old Spanish verb form. It is as if part of the English-speaking world still used “thee” and “thou” in everyday speech.
The influence of Italian has even led to the development of a separate language, Lunfardo, which blends Spanish and Italian. Argentine intellectuals have produced Lunfardo dictionaries and books in an effort to keep the language alive.

Wow! What do you think about the spanish languages varieties, now?

I have to say that the first time I came to USA, I was surprise about the spanish language varieties, I could not understand some words in Spanish, words from people from Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, etc… I was surprise about the language varieties in my Spanish Native language, that I did not know about before. I had to learn differents words in spanish from different countries and I realized that some of them can had a bad meaning in some countries that I have to be careful about when speaking and viceversa.

Well, we will probably be expose to all those Spanish varieties if you live in United States, which is not bad at all and it will also help us to learn about other cultures as well. But remember it is all still Spanish and even some words are different you will be able to understand people when you learn Spanish.


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