Spanish is a language whose seductive, singsong accent makes an impression on all who hear it.
We adore that particular habit of rolling the “r,” the rapid succession of syllables, and all those words that rhyme with pasión.
And to know everything about the Spanish language, you must also be interested in the various accents.
If you like to travel, you have certainly noticed that accents and expressions are noticeably different depending on the country and the region.
From Barcelona to Seville, passing through South America, you will discover the most common accents of one of the most spoken languages in the world.
Spanish is the official languages of 20 countries. It is spoken mainly in Spain, in Central America, and in South America.
Spanish culture is extremely rich.
Even though there are hundreds of variations, we have a tendency to distinguish between two types of accents: the peninsular accent, fluently spoken in Castile and in the regions of the Spanish peninsula, and the Andalusian accent.
The Spanish accent of the Americas is quite similar to the Andalusian accent.
To really understand why, let’s take a quick plunge into the heart of the history of the Spanish language, starting at the age of great discoveries.
The Spanish conquerors began the colonization of Central America and South America at the end of the 15th century.
The majority of the settlers came from Andalusia and Extramadura, in the south of Spain. They rapidly spread their language over a large part of the continent.
Today, the American Spanish pronunciation still bears numerous similarities with the Andalusian accent.
Spain contains multiple regions. And in each of them, the language is spoken with a subtly different accent.
Nevertheless, one must have a well-trained ear to be able to discern the entire range of nuances. It’s easier to perceive the difference between the accents of the south and the north.
Here is a quick overview of the most common accents that you can hear in Spain:
In Andalusia, the tendency is not to articulate very much. The accent is characterized principally by the omission of the pronunciation of “s” in speech.
There are however a few exceptions: the letter “s” is sometimes pronounced when it is at the beginning of a word or between two vowels.
Another particularity: the majority of consonants remain silent at the end of a word.
Having conversations is a great way to learn Spanish.
In Catalonia, the pronunciation of the letter “l” is very similar to English, while in Galicia, the accent is much more singsong, and the pronunciation of the “s” is emphasized.
In the Canary Islands, the accent resembles a nice mix between the Andalusian accent and the American Spanish accent.
The Castilian accent is the one heard the most often in Spain.
It is all the more widespread in the country because under Franco’s regime, it was strictly forbidden to speak any other language.
Contrary to Andalusian, Castilian is a romance language derived from popular Latin.
Among its particularities, there is the use of the second person plural “vosotros.”
This usage is not widespread in Central and South America.
Spanish, also known as Castilian, is the official language of Spain.
But there are also four other co-official languages: Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Occitan (Aranese).
Vocabulary, grammar, spelling, use of vowels… Each facet has its own rules and particularities.
Certain languages like Catalan even have several dialectical variations.
That incredible diversity of accents is also a characteristic of Portuguese.
Does the person you’re speaking to not articulate, do they have a tendency to lisp?
If you’re having trouble understanding everything, you are probably speaking with an Andalusian. The Andalusians have a tendency to enunciate less than in other regions of Spain.
The accent is very particular and there is a certain nonchalance in their delivery. People from Andalusia often eat their syllables. Keep in mind that there are several Andalusian accents. There are a few noticeable differences in the pronunciation between the inhabitants of the East and the West.
Certain letters disappear from the end of the words, most often “s” and “d.” For example, “Cansado” becomes “Casao.”
The double “l” is always pronounced in the same way, as “y.” The letters “c” and “z” transform into “th” (pronounced as if the speaker had a lisp).
Grenada, Seville, Cádiz, Málaga… Andalusia is an ideal region for a vacation. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Andalusia, don’t be disconcerted by the accent.
Discover Andalusian bullfighting!
With a good foundation of Spanish lessons, you will be able to navigate the accent easily.
If you hear “hata luego,” you will easily deduce that someone is saying the famous Spanish “hasta luego,” which means “see you later.” Someone from Andalusia might welcome you with a “bueno ‘día” instead of “Buenos días.”
In the same way, if someone says to you “ma o meno,” you will understand that they’re saying “más o menos,” which means “more or less.”
Adding a letter here or there, you will intuitively understand the meaning of the conversation. After a bit of time adapting, you won’t even notice it anymore.
In big cities, the accent is even more toned down.
In rural zones, it is more pronounced and perhaps more complicated to understand for beginner Spanish learners.
The Andalusians also have their own expressions. Humor and levity will make things fun while reinforcing your vocabulary.
Ask them to teach you during your stay.
The inhabitants of Central America and South America who speak Spanish have a slight Andalusian accent that dates back to the colonial age.
Nevertheless, the accent has a few nuances stemming from its evolution over time. Certain elements of ancient Spanish were abandoned and others conserved.
Today, Spanish Latin America possesses its own unique characteristics. While in a traditional Spanish, the “c” and the “z” are pronounced like “th” in English or like “θ” in Greek, in Latin America, the “c” the “z” and the “s” are always pronounced as “s.” It’s called the ceceo in Spain and seseo in Latin America.
Discover the Spanish accents of Latin America.
Because these different letters are pronounced the same way, it is even more important to pay attention to the context to really grasp the meaning of the phrases.
For example, in Latin America, “casa” (which means house) and “caza” (which means hunting) are pronounced the same way.
Similarly, “cocer,” (which means to cook) and “coser” (which means to sew) sound the same.
So it’s best not to half-listen to your interlocutor.
Another particularity is that the “s” at the end of syllables is often less emphasized in Latin America. If your interlocutor says the words niños and España, you might hear niño and Epaña.
Typical of Andalusia, the yeísmo also predominates on the other side of the ocean. Quesaco? It’s the phenomenon of pronouncing “y” and “ll” in the same way.
For example, the word “pollo” (which means chicken) is pronounced “poyo.” The yeísmo can create comprehension problems. Numerous homonyms like “calló” (which means he remained silent) and “cayó” (which means he fell) can be confused.
In certain countries of Latin America, such as Peru, Bolivia, or Paraguay, Castilian cohabits with the Native American language. The sound “ll” is clearly pronounced.
Although it has nearly disappeared from the spoken language in Spain, don’t forget that the use of formal address remains in use in Latin America.
While in Europe, it is more common to use the “tú”, on the other hand the use of “usted,” (the formal address in the singular) or of “ustedes” (formal address in plural) is everywhere in the Latin American countries. Not used in Spain for many years now, the usage of “vos” is also characteristic of Argentina and Uruguay.
Although it is at its origin a 2nd person plural personal pronoun, it is now employed as a 2nd person singular personal pronoun as a form of formal address between friends.
So don’t be surprised if instead of asking you “¿de donde eres?” an Argentinean asks you “¿de donde sos?”
Beyond the accent, the countries of Central and South America whose official language is Spanish have a vocabulary that’s a bit different than what might be heard in traditional Spanish lessons.
The Hispano-American lexicon is a mix borrowed from Spanish, indigenous languages, and, more recently, American English.
Would you like to perfectly master the Spanish accent of your favorite regions or countries?
Discover Spanish in San Sebastián.
And yes, take Spanish lessons before going on vacation, it might prove useful.
In the beginning, use a phonetic alphabet. You will learn to better comprehend the tone accents and the acute accents.
Spanish dictionaries and Spanish translators will give you an idea of the etymology of words.
Castilian, Andalusian, Latino… to perfect your pronunciation, take private Spanish lessons, available through Superprof.
Our private tutors possess all the expertise necessary to help you improve your pronunciation.
Some have traveled and taken a course in Andalusia or Catalonia, while others are originally from the north or south of Spain, Argentina, or even Mexico.
Friendly and knowledgeable, they will impart their knowledge to you with good humor and will help you develop the classic accent that we all love so much.
No matter your level, you are guaranteed to progress thanks to the skill of your private Spanish teacher and their Spanish lessons.
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